Melos is a good boy from Messina and has come to Syracuse, the magnificent city of temples, to buy a ritual sword for his sister's marriage ceremony. He meets a very talented sculptor and they become friends. Later, the King's guards arrest Melos while he was having a walk in the castle's gardens and Syracuse's King, obsessed by the idea of assassins out to kill him, sentences him to death. Melos is desperate, but most of all he wants to be present at his sister's marriage, so he asks the King for three days to go to Messina for the celebration and then return to Syracuse where he will accept the death penalty. The King does not trust Melos, but, trying to demonstrate that nobody could trust him, asks him to find a volunteer substitute in case he breaks his promise. The sculptor accepts to be Melos' substitute in this case...
This is one of the must fascinating movies I had ever seen. With a story that immerse you on an epic journey where the trust became the motor of strength and perseverance, wrapping you on a world of legendary heros... The visuals are a beautiful recreation of the greek environment, with all their magnificent architecture and sculpture. The music really suits the flow of the scenes, making it one of the most enjoyable soundtracks you could appreciate. Although, even if a love this movie, it isn't for everyone. Most of the plot has a slow rhythm, very pleasant to enjoy de scenarios and the melodies
that accompany it. But if you can stop to value this, you would find a really awesome story, that might move something inside you and remember you why to trust.
Let's draw together a parallel. Imagine you're on your way to go to the "Starlite" nightclub. Or the "Dusk Lounge". Or "Thermopylae", if you're gay. Lol. Whatever. You go there, sure that your neat attire is going to give you access to a wild night with loud BPM galore... Suddenly, before passing by the bouncer, one steals your phone! Thankfully, a helpful soul arrest the thief and give you back your personal effect. Afterwards, you enter the club as his recommendation as well regarded regular. You end up spending the whole night drinking with him. That was nice and all... But between
you and I, Would you give your kidney to that guy the day after, if circumstances called it ? I doubt you would. Don't lie. As good-natured as that individual would be, you're not going to sacrifice one organ for the barely known him. You'd live too tediously without it. Pain, and even dialysis routine if you have malfunctioning kidney, would remind you it for the rest of your life.
See, that's my beef against HM! (let's call that title this way from now on). It tries to force its message on you, even though it's demagogically put on. To quote two cues from the movie:
- Lysa: So, did you come out to the city hoping to be a stonemason, too ?
- Melos: Nah, I was just lost on the street and was invited for a drink.
That's the core of problem. The friendship between Melos and Celinunsius has no believability. It is merely a vehicle to demonstrate you how much trust is important in life. It has no chemistry, because all they previously shared in common prior to Melos' ordeal is a goatskin flask of bad wine. Therefore, build up was swept under the carpet despite its capital importance. You want an example of fictive and yet lifellike friendship ? Read the epic of Gilgamesh. After Gilgamesh and Enkidu killed the Bull of Heaven, major Gods sentenced the latter guy to go to hell. There's no doubt the king of Uruk would have given his life to save his companion, even though he's a simple man-beast. Because they faced so many perils together.
Back to the matter, it's hard to take Melos as a role model, let alone get attached to him. Not only because HM!'s plotline is contrived, but mostly because he's so damn dull-witted. He's stupid enough to not put Celine in charge of his sword while he pays visit to Dionysus' castle. And mostly, he couldn't tell the difference between a fake sword and an iron-made one. 358 BC is the third Iron age period. I'll spare you my knowledge about Antique technology, just saying that when you get a hand over such elaborated weapon, you immediately notice it even if you're a humble shepherd.
This characterization loophole isn't peculiar to the main cast. Dionysus himself was poorly written too. To illustrate my argument, just pay attention to that ultimate day moment. It could have been a major highlight of the movie, mind it: the cynical point of view from Syracuse's king confronting Celine's, the idealistic stonemason artist. To say the least, whole dialogue baffled me, because it was that perfunctory even though we're talking about a key-scene. Dionysus looked like clueless from the start to the end. That just wasn't coherent with the protrayal of a tyrant, who put at odds his subjects life for the mere pleasure to prove his knowledge of human nature...
I could go on and on until the supporting cast, but you copied it, I think.
If you don't watch HM! for its flawlessly constructed plotline, then is there anything else worthwhile ? Chara-design is a tad on the dull side. Art direction knows how put in value objects as statues and bas-reliefs, on the other hand. It's too bad this level of attention wasn't applied with the rest, technically. Music is... Here. It's neither haunting nor annoying. It's just sound grooming not especially memorable.
..| Enjoyment |.. 3/10
All in all, HM! had the misfortune to be adapted into a wrong format. I'm sure it could have been way better, released as an OAV series. Without competent scripts, it remains what it is... I tried hard to like it, but I just can't ignore these heaps of flaws that make for an underwhelming tale. To its credit, historical field is so undercovered. I guess you ought to watch this title once at least, whether you're a History nerd as me or you simply like the genre.
..| Content indications / Buzzwords |..
Ketchup meter: While the on-screen suffering is rendered in a striking way, one really got to be sensitive to be shocked by it. G-rating was fair.
Ecchi meter: 0
Fishing scene(s): I doubt that Melos had any time to stop by Syracuse's port to catch groupers. So none :/
+ Antique setting (bloody underutilized, Fantasy genre put aside)
+ Nice premise brought by an eponymous fable
+ Federative message
+ Pleasant background art