Would you let your 10 or 11 year old watch Troy or “300” films, both certificate 15?

Mr TP and I watched both these films with our eldest son, he was just 10 when he saw Troy and almost 11 when we all watch 300.  I would not describe them as general “family” entertainment, but we discussed these films in great detail in terms of history and the mythology around the events ( more on this later).

I do not generally let him watch “old” films.  These films had these rating because of the violence but that violence was key to the story.  Young people of his age throughout history and across the word have often been exposed to great violence – we are just lucky that we are so peaceful and safe in the here and now.

We watched the films as part of a bigger educational experience.  It all started when my son and I both read the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordon:


We were inspired to learn more about Greek mythology and the ancient world in which it flourished.

We attended talks by Nigel Spivey (expert on Ancient Olympics) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigel_Spivey

We visited the British Museum.

We watched TV documentaries by Bettany Hughes (some available to watch on line): http://www.bettanyhughes.co.uk/

Troy is loosely based on the Iliad by Homer but the story is changed significantly (see: http://archive.archaeology.org/online/reviews/troy/) .   The war should last 10 years and people who survive in the Homer story die in this one and the ending is wrong… details!  I’ve had a copy of the Iliad on my bookshelves for 20+ years but never managed to read it.  I now have it on audiobook too and have enjoyed listening to it.

Watching the film was educational – most will never read the Iliad  so the film introduces us to characters that really did exist and events that did happen.  I’m no expert but  there are many grains of truth in the film, as well as a lot of fiction.   For example, it shows two armies lined up to fight but the kings agree to settle the battle by  just the two best warriors fighting – from what I have read this seems to have been common practice – what a good idea!

I didn’t know about Leonidas and the battle of Thermopylae  before our recent trip to Greece but there were monuments to the man everywhere – statues, street names, who is this guy?  When I told a local that I was going to see Marathon, the site of the famous battle (which took place 10 years earlier), they thought not of Marathon but Thermopylae and told me I was going the wrong way.

Personally, how can I not like the film, hundreds of scantily clad muscle-men on the screen for almost 2 hours!  I thought the film was very accurate in how it showed the Spartan and Greeks.  This battle still has major consequences today – the Persians destroyed every temple standing in Greece at that time – all that we see as tourists today on the Acropolis, at Delphi, etc.  was built by the Greeks after they subsequently defeated the Persians and rebuilt it all.  Amazingly it was all constructed at the same time in a few years.  Wow what a building, programme.

Now there are critics of the 300 film who make many valid points – you can’t just watch it as historical fact.  One point is the very inaccurate portrait of the Persians – now, much as I do agree with those critics I do think the film was from the Spartan point of view – the Spartans may have seen the invaders to be strange, exotic, monstrous, as  in the film.

Here is one of the many online pages worth reading if you are interested in the facts behind 300: http://www.spentaproductions.com/300themovie_the_truth_behind_300.htm


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