Eva Green’s Artemisia Disappoints in ‘300: Rise of an Empire’

Written by Andé Morgan.

300: Rise of an Empire isn’t a movie about conflict – it is conflict.

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300: Rise of an Empire (300: ROAE) was released Friday, about seven years after the original film…and that’s going to be it for historical accuracy, because there is precious little in the movie.

The film was directed by Noam Murro, and the screenplay was written by Zack Snyder. Snyder also wrote and directed the original film, 300 (2006), and is the writer/director responsible for Sucker Punch (2011) and Man of Steel (2013). The events in 300: ROAE take place before, during, and after the Battle of Thermopylae depicted in the first film, and again represent creative interpretations of key battles of the Greco-Persian wars, namely, the naval battles of Salamis and Artemisium.

Sullivan Stapleton is Themistokles, an Athenian politician-soldier who ascends to power after killing Persian Emperor Darius I at the Battle of Marathon. Rodrigo Santoro and Lena Headey reprise their respective roles as Xerxes, the so-called god-king of Persia, and Gorgo, Queen of Sparta. Eva Green plays Artemisia, commander of Persia’s naval forces and advisor to Xerxes.

[caption id="attachment_9382" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Eva Green as Artemisia. Eva Green as Artemisia.[/caption]

300 was groundbreaking. Memorable elements, like the highly stylized costumes and CGI sets, the gratuitous slow motion violence, or Gerard Butler’s beard, have been adapted or satirized in many subsequent works. Unlike the imitators, however, 300: ROAE can lay direct claim to the production design of the first film. So, how has the 300 look fared after eight years?

Well, it turns out that the sequel is not as original as the original.

Everything about 300: ROAE seems bloated. The plot is more complex, which is fine, but the pacing is a tad slow; even the action sequences drag on. The characters have more dialogue, but not much more depth. Themistokles is slightly more well rounded than Gerard Butler’s Leonidas, and Xerxes gets a backstory (daddy issues and something about an evil hermit spa).

The battle setpieces are expanded. We get wider views of Sparta and Athens, and the backgrounds hold more detail. Unfortunately, this realism runs counter to what made 300 so awesome; it was the lack of detail and the claustrophobic camera work that made 300 seem more like a dream or a hallucination than a typical swords-and-sandals blockbuster.

And the blood…oh, the blood.

The original film could be accurately described as bloody, but the sequel is blood-drenched. Ridiculously so. The slow motion decapitations and hydraulic blood-sprays in 300 were a perfect fit for the stylized violence-as-art motif of the first film, but the violence in 300: ROAE is just hokey. Think Mighty Morphin Power Rangers instead of high art.

[caption id="attachment_9386" align="aligncenter" width="470"]Indeed. OK, I will, just put down the sword![/caption]

The historic Artemisia is a fascinating figure. Artemisia I of Caria, (aka Queen Artemisia of Halicarnassus) was a Greek and the daughter of a Persian magistrate. Her husband was also a ruler; when he died, Artemisia took his throne. During the Greco-Persian war, she contributed several ships to Xerxes’ already massive navy. After distinguishing herself in combat during the battle of Artemisium, an impressed Xerxes praised her skills as a tactician and asked for her advice. The Athenians were quite upset about being beaten by a woman and offered a reward to the man who could capture her alive (so that she could be “shown her place,” I speculate).

By comparison, Snyder’s Artemisia seems to lack the inherent strength of the historical Artemisia. Instead, she exists as a damaged mechanism of vengeance. In 300: ROAE, Artemisia’s family is killed (her mother raped first) in front of her eyes by a group of Greek soldiers. Afterwards, the soldiers rape Artemisia and keep her captive as a sexual appliance in a ship’s hold. These scenes are disturbing, as they should be. Particularly so is the scene where we see the eight-year-old Artemisia (played by 10-year-old Caitlin Carmichael) battered, in chains, and surrounded by a gang of leering men.

[caption id="attachment_9387" align="aligncenter" width="636"]Young Artemisia looks on while her family is slaughtered. Young Artemisia looks on while her family is slaughtered.[/caption]

Several years later, a catatonic Artemisia is thrown out, like refuse, onto the docks. She’s found by one of King Darius’ kindly warlords,* who takes her in and teaches her the art of war. Eventually, her immense skill as a warrior gains her Darius’ favor. After the king dies from the injury given by the hand of Themistokles during the Battle of Marathon, Artemisia manipulates the grief-ridden Xerxes (who is not at all giant or golden at this point) into disregarding his father’s dying advice by renewing the war with the Greeks. She’s also responsible for planting the “god-king” delusion in Xerxes mind. The resulting dynamic is that Xerxes recognizes his need for Artemisia’s skill, but resents her for it, and for being Darius’ favorite.

Snyder gives us a break from the bloodshed and atrocity by inserting a sex scene between the two main battles. Upset by the failures of her sub-commanders, Artemisia summons Themistokles to her chambers under the pretense of negotiation. Her true intent is to persuade him to defect. She sees his skill as almost equal to her own – between the two of them, Persia would be unstoppable. Themistokles is not having it, however, so Artemisia resorts to seduction.

[caption id="attachment_9407" align="aligncenter" width="597"]Wikipedia doesn't have anything on a Themistocles-Artemisia rendezvous. Wikipedia doesn’t have anything on a Themistocles-Artemisia rendezvous.[/caption]

The rough sex scene that follows is kind of rapey, and given Artemisia’s background, I found it uncomfortable to watch (it didn’t help that Stapleton and Green lacked chemistry and seemed a bit embarrassed to be in scene themselves). Other commentators have pointed to the fact that Artemisia both initiates and ends the act as evidence of her power, and note that it’s often unclear during the scene who is coercing who. While Artemisia has more depth than the typical fighting fuck toy (FFT), towards the end of the scene the male gaze of the camera puts Green’s breasts front and center and lingers there longer than would be necessary to establish her fearlessness. Artemisia’s costumes are also somewhat impractical and sexualized, but, to be fair, there were one or two men in the film who seemed under-dressed for the weather.

The merits of the sex scene are debatable, but I argue that sexual assault does, unfortunately, define Artemisia. As Kate Conway noted in this 2012 piece for xoJane, rape as backstory is a common trope (e.g., Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I Spit on Your Grave) and it is often utilized by lazy writers attempting to quickly add some depth and motivation to a female character. Often, this woman is a vengeful, violent, female action character (VFAC), i.e., a “badass.” Artemisia is certainly vengeful and violent; in the film, she orders executions and suicide bombings and does quite a bit of skull-cleaving.

A predilection towards violence usually causes critics to reflexively deem a VFAC a “feminist” character. While seemingly directly opposed to the women in refrigerators trope, VFACs often end up as sidekicks or props for the main male character to use to further his own glory. In this way, VFACs usually have the equivalent effect of enforcing, rather than transcending, traditional gender roles. Additionally, VFACs are often killed off as subtle or overt punishment for their perceived masculinity (e.g., the Olga Kurkulina’s Mother Russia in Kick-Ass 2).

Surprisingly, none of the characters in the film comment on the discrepancy between Artemisia’s gender and skills as did the historical Xerxes. After the actual Battle of Salamis, according to Polyaenus, Xerxes said of Artemisia, “O Zeus, surely you have formed women out of man’s materials, and men out of woman’s.” Even Green herself seems to have internalized traditional gender stereotypes. At the red carpet premier last week, Variety quotes Green saying about Artemisia, “She’s so extreme, she doesn’t tolerate people who doesn’t [sic] follow her orders, she has no patience—completely irreverent. She’s a man.”

Unfortunately, during that interview Green also perpetuated the crazy woman stereotype, saying, “I wish I could fight like her or have the courage that she has, but she’s on the edge. She’s crazy.” A similar quote from Green in a USA Today piece reads, “She is a psychopath. I am so far from this in real life.” That article also exemplified the frustrating focus that many reviews have placed on Green’s physical appearance and clothing in the film, rather than on the development or historical context of the character.

[caption id="attachment_9385" align="aligncenter" width="635"]r2-v10b17-80213-co3-pulls-01rl-0009-tiff Lena Headey as Queen Gorgo[/caption]

Queen Gorgo gets more screen time and much more dialogue in 300: ROAE than in the original. However, much of this dialogue is straightforward exposition. The first fifteen minutes of the film are essentially a voice over – Gorgo giving us the film’s elevator speech. While on screen, Gorgo’s dialogue revolves around either worrying about her husband or mourning her husband. Her presence as a combatant as the Spartan cavalry rides in at the end of the film is welcome. Although – as with Artemisia – her motivation is vengeance rather than ideology or pure lust for conquest. While Gorgo is certainly a strong character, her impact on the narrative is minor.

Most disturbing is the mixed message the film conveys about rape and war. We’re shown several graphic scenes depicting the rape and murder of women as natural consequences of war in the ancient world, but Snyder must have been aware that they are just as common today. While narrating Artemisia’s backstory, Themistokles blandly states that it was his fellow Greeks who raped and murdered her mother, but he has no aversion to admitting this. Even more disconcerting, Artemisia herself presides over the sacking of Athens, during which we see several Athenian women stripped, raped, and hacked to death with short blades. Does Artemisia see this as suitable retribution? Does the memory of her mother’s suffering cause her to feel any empathy for these women? We do not know, because she makes no comment. This was a huge missed opportunity.

Similarly, just as Carmichael’s portrayal enables us to feel something of the pain experienced by the young Artemisia as she watched atrocity befall her family, we can also feel the pain experienced by Calisto (Jack O’Connell) as he witnessed Artemisia’s arrow pierce his father, Scyllius’ (Callan Mulvey) heart. Yet, despite what we see, underneath the talk of glory and freedom there is no coherent discussion of the futility of war and no allusion to the mental and physical scars left on the combatants.

Artemisia’s death scene articulates the film’s conflicted non-commentary on rape and war. Bloody, beaten, and anticipating the imminent arrival of the Spartan ships, we see Artemisia on her knees in front Themistokles, the point of his sword at her throat. Rather than accept Themistocles offer of escape, Artemisia chooses death. She feigns attack, and Themistokles stabs her through her lower abdomen. In excruciating detail, we see the sword sawing back and forth through her body. As she pulls Themistokles close, we see an almost orgasmic look cross her face.

While some have interpreted this scene as positive, her refusal to flee or to submit to capture a final example of her autonomy and self-determination, I argue that it instead serves as a capstone, an indirect culmination of the sexual assaults of her childhood, and a direct, forced (by Themistokles) culmination of the sex act that she had earlier delayed in her chambers.

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300: ROAE is not a feminist movie, and that is not surprising given the film’s genre. The film fails the Bechdel Test; Gorgo and Artemisia never share a scene nor speak to other women. Snyder’s Artemisia is ultimately a construct of typical VFAC tropes and, despite a skilled and enthusiastic portrayal by Green, doesn’t do the historical Artemisia justice. Moreover, it’s disappointing that Snyder, having chosen rape as a shortcut to an interesting character, didn’t take the opportunity to also provide relevant commentary on the contemporary use of rape as a tool of war.

If you’re looking for buckets of blood, CGI naval battles, and fancy costumes, check it out. If you were hoping for an authentic adaption of the story of one of the ancient world’s most interesting women, you’ll be better off to stay home and curl up with a copy of The Histories instead.

*Coincidentally, the same warlord that Leonidas introduced to the bottom of a pit in the original film while saying the now infamous line, “Watch your step!”


Andé Morgan lives in Tucson, Arizona, where they write about culture, race, politics, and LGBTQ issues. Follow them @andemorgan.

19 Comments

  • jacie333
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Not too bothered by this.

  • James Tuthill
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    You spoke my mind. It was hard to tell actually. I thought that Artemisia was interesting, though. My only gripe is that this wasn’t the type of character that I wanted to see use seduction as a tool.

    Green is a kooky lady herself. She isn’t a stranger or a prude about showing off her assets in movies, see “The Dreamers” or any other movie she does.

    I thought her character was consistently interesting and moving. She was betrayed by an awful script with some of the crappiest dialogue ever.

    I can’t tell if it’s demeaning to linger on her boobs the way they did. I mean… I’ll admit I have my male gaze fighting what I know to be exploitation on that one. I am always curious how offended women are by that. I mean… It’s just flesh, it’s just sex and it’s just kind of hot, she doesn’t seem to care, so is it worth getting worked up over? Debatable, I can’t see hypersexualized women in film without feeling like I’m doing something wrong for demeaning them.

    There are men who are half naked all the time in this film as well. If you’re of the “get over it, they’re just nipples” school of thought, then everything was fair, no?

    What I did wonder about was the rapey feel of that scene. I don’t know, the slamming sounds didn’t make it seem like anybody was enjoying that. Especially considering the angry looks they shared.

    I just think her character deserved more respect than a sex scene. Sex scenes tear characters down. Also, she was a very ferocious fighter in her own right, so why would she resort to that? Just to get Thermystocles on her side? I didn’t buy it…

    This movie just comes off as douche porn on level with “Wolf of Wall Street” to me. I went to see it because I’ve seen everything else worth seeing at the moment…

    I guess it doesn’t help that all of these guys had zero personality as well.

    • Michelle Kirkwood
      Posted April 2, 2014 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      I haven’t seen the movie, and the only thing I find offensive about nudity in films is that it’s always the woman who has to be naked most of the time, no matter what. (Of course, in a make-dominated business were men write,direct, and make most of the movies, that’s no big surprise. For once, I’d like to see a film where the man shows as much skin as the woman does (you only see that mainly in foreign films, where there’s a more mature attitude toward nudity than in American films—well, there was a lot of skin shown in Magic Mike,but not much frontal at all, given the subject matter.) I don’t find nudity in and of itself offensive, just the one-sided gratuitous display of it from actresses only in Hollywood films (where it’s so common.) There’s much more equal showing of skin amongst the sexes in foreign films, anyway. Also, it’s nice to be on a feminist film review site for a change!

      • James Tuthill
        Posted April 3, 2014 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        True, I’ve always felt it was unfair.

        Look, I’m straight, I love all the female nudity in Hollywood films, my nature fights my brain on that lol. However, I do find it distinguishing that I don’t have a problem with male nudity.

        My friends will often exclaim in overly macho ways “UGH, NOBODY WANTS TO SEE THAT!” Maybe women do? Is always my thought. Penises don’t gross me out, I have one… I’m not attracted or repulsed by them.

        It’s strange. I really wish nudity was more evened out amongst the sexes in Hollywood. If you every see a guy naked, it’s played for laughs. The bad part is that the only movies changing that are the “Twilight” movies and their ilk.

        The problem is that when women are shown nude, it’s usually fairly superfluous. Not necessary, just for the men in the audience.

        So to “even it out” you have to do that to men, unnecessarily. Stop the stories and drop the pants.

        I think there should just be more of everything shown in sex scenes. Make it even there and drop the unnecessary boob shots.

        That last sentence made me a bit sad on the inside, but it would be more fair lol.

      • Tyler
        Posted June 25, 2014 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        What? Lol the men showed everything short of their penis and butts. I don’t remember seeing any vaginas and female butts in the movie. You could clearly see a side profile of Thermistokles naked body after the sex scene. As much as you’d like them to be, female breasts aren’t the end all of erotic scenes.

    • Tyler
      Posted June 25, 2014 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      Women who sign up to be nude on screen should expect to be gawked at. There is no reason to feel bad for staring at someone who signs up to be stared at. Your not objectifying women by admiring a hot woman on screen. If anything, your promoting their right to individualism.

      • James Tuthill
        Posted July 10, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

        I know they technically sign up for it. They aren’t exactly being offered roles that don’t call for that, though. I may read too much into it, I just get the feeling that when the nude scene doesn’t feel called for, it was just the actress being forced to sell her tits to the industry to keep her career alive.

        • Paul Ronco
          Posted May 6, 2015 at 7:48 am | Permalink

          There had to be a nude scene in this movie, are you kidding? This wasn’t Rambo. We already knew what we had coming to us, in a manner of speaking, after we’d seen the first one.

  • Posted March 12, 2014 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    Hi James, thanks for your comment. The most pushback I’ve received has been over my interpretation of the sex scene. However, as I said, its merits are debatable.
    I agree, Green is better than the script she had to work with.

  • Lauren B
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I had a couple of comments I wanted to make about your piece. First of all, thank you for the history lesson – I am completely clueless about this time and place in history and to be honest, didn’t know Artemisia was even a real historical figure.

    On to the movie. I was paying very close attention to the scenes depicting rape, sexual assault, and male gaze. Male gaze is tough in this film because it’s given to both the male and female characters. It’s difficult for me to say that Green’s outfits were “too sexy” (which I’m usually quick to complain about – I’ll be honest, here) because all the outfits of the Greeks were basically ‘too sexy.’ For once, the male characters had equally as un-armored bodies as female characters usually do. I’ll cirlce back to this in a minute.

    I was very worried during this film that rape would somehow be made ‘sexy’ by the directing of this film. After all, it is glorifying violence for sure, so it made sense that they might accidentally end up glorifying rape as well. However, you make one mistake in your critique of this movie that I think is important. In the scene in which young Artemisia watches her mother get raped, the voice over you hear is that her ENTIRE family was raped – not just her mother. You don’t see it, but it is said explicitly. This was an important note to me because I felt like Snyder was unblinkingly stating “Yes, rape is a war tool used against all.” It wasn’t just the women, but men and children too. By saying this so matter-of-factly, it made it crystal clear just how horrible and inevitable rape was in war, on either side. I think if we’d then heard anyone say “And that’s bad” it would have taken away from the film. We know it’s bad, everyone knows rape – especially as a tool during war – is bad. It’s the worst thing you can do, and yet this is war, and this film is about war, the real, ugly, disgusting parts of war that get glossed over in a lot of war movies because it’s so awful.

    This is important in the sex scene as well. I don’t know how victims of sexual assault (especially repeated assaults) deal with sexual relations later in life. However, I felt it plausible that because of her past, and the fact that she was a war-hungry warrior, the sex she would engage in voluntarily would be rather violent. I bought that, though tentatively. What solidified it for me was one specific part of the sex scene. After they start, there’s one point in which she is bent over the table. This is the same position that her mother was in when young-Artemisia sees her get raped. I thought that at that moment, Green got a look on her face of displeasure, and she quickly moves around and arranges herself on top. I really believe that this was an intentional nod to her past as a victim – that she would never be the ‘bottom’ in sex again, as she and her mother were forced to be. Afterward, when she kicks him out, the camera does linger on Green’s body in which her full torso is exposed. I am very quick to call out Male-Gaze BS, but this wasn’t sexy. Green wasn’t posed, she was just exposed. It didn’t feel “empowering” so much as it felt as though Artemisia felt no shame about her actions or her body. It’s tough to say, but that’s how I interpreted it.

    Finally, the scene in which Artemisia shoots an arrow and kills Scyllius was an exact repeat of the beginning of the film, when Themistocles kills Xerxes’s father Darius. This felt like a loop, to me. The people and situations are different, but a loop was created, and it is easy to see that the cycle of war will continue, with Calisto taking revenge on someone else to avenge his father, and will probably end up killing someone else’s father, who in turn will kill someone else’s father, ad infinitum. I think that despite how big and dumb this film looks, there are definitive moments which present very real, deliberate theses on war. I think asking for someone to acknowledge the brutality of war at some point during this film is futile, because they cannot see that – is in inherent in the lives of every character. However, as a viewer watching these people tear each other to shreds, continue the cycle of war and brutality to each other, the message of war being futile, endless, inevitable, and hopelessly savage, is crystal clear. The film is the discussion of the futility of war, and of the scars it leaves on its combatants.

    Basically everything else in your review I completely agree with. I would just clarify that VVFACs and ‘Rape and Revenge’ heroes do have some overlap, but are different. Rape-and-Revenge heroes (I Spit on Your Grave, Thriller/They Call Her One-Eye, Kill Bill) are the star of their own films – they don’t play second fiddle to anyone because the story is about them. VVFACs however are often relegated to 2nd place behind Bruce Willis or some other action dude. Either way, we definitely need more female characters in movies that have backstories other than sexual assault victims. Especially when that character is a real historical person who doesn’t need any made-up victim backstory replacing their already-awesome non-victim backstory for no reason.
    Thanks! This was a great read!

    • Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Hi Lauren, thanks for the great comment!
      I can’t diagree with your interpretation of the sex scene because, as I said in the piece, the scene was somewhat ambiguous.
      Great catch on the Darius-Scyllius arrow analogy! I wonder if that was Snyder’s intention, or a happy accident?

    • Paul Ronco
      Posted May 6, 2015 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      “Afterward, when she kicks him out, the camera does linger on Green’s body in which her full torso is exposed. I am very quick to call out Male-Gaze BS, but this wasn’t sexy. Green wasn’t posed, she was just exposed. It didn’t feel “empowering” so much as it felt as though Artemisia felt no shame about her actions or her body.”

      The writers weren’t trying to re-create Botticelli’s Venus. The fact that you got the impression that Artemisia felt no shame about her actions or her body is precisely the point, and what made the breast scene so sexy. Gaze on men.

      “Either way, we definitely need more female characters in movies that have backstories other than sexual assault victims. Especially when that character is a real historical person who doesn’t need any made-up victim backstory replacing their already-awesome non-victim backstory for no reason.”

      As if female victims of sexual assault never become “real historical persons.” And while your sentiment that women are oversexualized in popular culture may be true, I can’t think of a movie in which it would have been less fitting to apply a chaste femme fatale. Artemisia was no teen-aged Joan of Arc. The real Artemisia grew up to be an elite and brutal warrior, a shrewd and merciless killer of her own countrymen at a time long, long before women could traditionally join, let alone command, military forces. Of course there was trauma in her past. We don’t know what it was, but’s absurd to suggest it could have been anything close to normal.

  • Vanta
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    If we want to see 300 as an historic movie, there’re too much anachronisms to write here. It isn’t want to be an historic movie, so the historical characters can be modified (and the male characters are also not the historical characters). You speak about the fancy costumes of Artemesia, but even if she changes herself a little too much (is it a war or a fashion show), we must observe that the armour are “realistic”; it’s not the wtf armours (swimwear, lingerie etc…) we can see in video games. She’s nearly full covered (forgot the legs and the arms, I think that the designer (Alexandra Byrne) doesn’t do arm-covered armours (like Sif’s armour in Thor)) while we are in a movie where the majority of character are in “heroic nudity”. The sex scene doesn’t feel me confortable, I didn’t understand why Artemisia needs to put a “greek female attire” to seduce someone (the costume is beautiful, the fabric remember armour), it would be more strong if she weared an armour (in fact i’d love that at the end of the scene, she would be still in full armour (but I appreciate that she is not completely naked, even if Themistocles is a quite ridicoulus to hide his sex with his cape (the movie is an movie for adults, we see a lot of blood, head-cuted, and in the scene a breast-plan, we can see a masculine sex…))) (sorry for my bad english, I dont pratice it enough^^)

  • Sehar
    Posted April 27, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    I loved this review. I swear I almost puked after I saw the scene where little artemisia is chained in the ship . I suddenly started crying. Why couldn’t they just show a great female warrior without having to show such a disturbing back story . Also I hate hated the scene between her and Themistocles . Why the hell was he raping her . Was he implying that she was meant to be taped. He could’ve been shown to be gentle on her given her history . It was disgusting . Simple hideous.. A real man and a good one should have been shown to be gentle towards her. Why the f… K show her being raped.

    • Paul Ronco
      Posted May 6, 2015 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      Why the hell was he raping her

      You people need to re-define your definition of rape. If anything it was Artemisia who was raping Themistocles. She was the one leading a massive army to kill Greece’s sons and enslave the entire nation under an insane imperial cult. Her dare to Themistocles to take her was clear. She was perfectly safe, on her own ship, surrounded by elite guards. If anyone were to die that night for making a mistake of trust, it was Themistocles. In fact, a strong argument can be made that if Themistocles hadn’t done what he did, then he wouldn’t have walked off the ship alive without agreeing to join her. Rape is about exerting power over someone less powerful, and Themistocles knew he did not find himself in such a position. Artemisia knew it too. Furthermore, if it was rape, then why did Artemisia not mind it? She let him go. Clearly her personal feelings for him must have been genuine because Themistocles was a dangerous strategist who had already caused her army vast losses. Her act of letting him go under those conditions would have been high treason by Xerxes’ definition, but she knew she’d be able to get away with it because when Themistocles re-attacked she knew she could make up any story she wanted if challenged by Xerxes as to why she let him go. I disagree profoundly with the author’s heavy-handed critique of Eva Green’s portrayal of Artemisia and of the character itself. To be fair, once I realized it was more of a harshly judgmental, ranting spoiler for Green’s character than an objective analysis of it, I started skimming, but there were some ridiculous observations of the author’s that stick out. For one, I found their chemistry perfectly believable for two hardened killers. In particular I found the end scene touching, when neither could bring themselves to kill the other and Artemisia realized that the gentle breeze of wind signaled her death. And of course Themistocles would have looked embarrassed to be in the sex scene– he was a Greek general who was being strongly come on to by the enemy commander in her own headquarters. We don’t know much about the historical Artemisia. Therefore we shouldn’t criticize Snyder and Johnstad for their artistic license. I don’t think the story they made up for her is all that far-fetched. Why shouldn’t we entertain the notion that the real Artemisia was adept with a sword and had developed a profound hatred of Greeks? She was, after all, a Greek who spent her life slaughtering thousands of her native countrymen, seeking to destroy Greek culture and turn its population into slaves. I think Green acted the part very well and while I understand that her character had to die at the end (there was no way Themistocles could have saved her from her fate once the Spartans joined the fight), my only regret is that he didn’t kiss her as she died.

  • Healinna Rane
    Posted June 21, 2014 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    I completely disagree with your title. Green did not “disappoint”. She did finominal. She took what was given to her, memorized it and performed it with grace and ease. It was a great performance to watch and the costuming was supurb. Of course it was not al true fact, but it’s got your attention and you probably went and did research after you watched the movie. To me that seems like an accomplishment. So that’s all. Any movie can be great or terrible. It all depends on what you look at.

    • Paul Ronco
      Posted May 6, 2015 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Well said Healinna. I liked Green’s acting as well as the fictional character herself.

  • Christina
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    First of all, thank you for giving a damn about women characters, and how sexual violence can be used frivolously in film. Particularly with female characters. I do agree that this film fell flat in many ways, but Eva Green is the only reason I came across your review. She was by far the most interesting character in the film. She is quite skilled at acting with depth, and with wicked intent. (Check her out in Penny Dreadful) My thoughts on the rape scenes are that rape is common in war, and is an epidemic secret that must be acknowledged in order for it to be stopped. The use of it in the scenes are almost like a natural acceptance of war which I believe is closer to the truth than what we are willing to acknowledge. My second thought about rape equals vengeance with women characters is due to the common knowledge that rape victims (like myself) often imagine vengeance towards their perpetrators. Its a natural psychological reaction to being victimized. I believe women are harder to convince to be violent unless its personal, and less likely to believe a female character is cold, calculated, and willing to cut off someone’s head unless they’re mentally disturbed. Thanks for having this forum, and I look forward to more in the future.

  • Nagneto
    Posted October 12, 2014 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    300 and its sequal are and have always been huge phallic pedestals to misogyny.

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  • By timewantsaskeleton | Tuesday Nerd-Newsday! on March 11, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    […] 300 movies were 7 years apart. The character she played recently in 300: Rise of an Empire got some less than favorable views because of Artemesia’s rape-revenge backstory. Hopefully the upcoming flick won’t be […]

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