Smash-hit war epic 300 has upset Iranian film fans, who claim the ultra-violent film insults their ancient culture. In the movie, which stormed to the top of the US box office on Sunday (11MAR07) with a staggering $70 million (GBP36 million) opening-weekend take, Persians are depicted as decadent and evil as they battle the 300 Spartan warriors of the title. Based on a graphic novel, the film is based on the battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C., where a small Spartan army survived attacks from a massive Persian force for three days. But Iranian critics insist the film goes too far in its depiction of their ancestors. JAVAD SHAMGHADRI, the cultural adviser to Iranian President MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, insists the film is Hollywood's attempt to "humiliate" Iran, a long-time foe. Iranian newspapers and TV networks have followed Shamghadri's lead, blasting the film and calling on native filmmakers to give their studied opinions of the film. In Tuesday's (13MAR07) edition of national newspaper Ayende-No, one commentary stated the film depicts Iranians as "demons, without culture, feeling or humanity, who think of nothing except attacking other nations and killing people. The piece continues, "It is a new effort to slander the Iranian people and civilization before world public opinion at a time of increasing American threats against Iran."