Based on the epic graphic novel by Frank Miller, '300' is a ferocious retelling of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes and his massive Persian army. Facing insurmountable odds, their valor and sacrifice inspire all of Greece to unite against their Persian enemy, drawing a line in the sand for democracy. The film brings Miller's (Sin City) acclaimed graphic novel to life by combining live action with virtual backgrounds that capture his distinct vision of this ancient historic tale.
This movie is a fictional telling of the actual Battle of Thermopylae, back in 480 B.C., where 300 Greeks, overwhelmingly outnumbered, held back the invading Persians for three days before a local resident, motivated by the desire of a reward, betrayed the Greeks by revealing a mountain path that led behind the Greek lines. Though the Greeks' defeat was inevitable, their incredible endurance and unity against the Persians is astounding.
Right from the beginning, we see the life of a Spartan warrior is not an easy one. From the age of seven, he is taken from his mother, where he is to serve in the military until the age of 30. The ordinary Spartan was a citizen-warrior, trained to obey and endure. Leonidas survives such training until he is named King, and continues the traditions with his own son. Soon, Persia is knocking at the door, determined to overtake every bit of land and have all bow down to the current ruler, King Xerxes, who proclaims himself a God-King, and will grant mercy to those who agree to serve Persia, as long as the kneel to his will. Leonidas, unimpressed with Xerxes' wealth and unwilling to bow to anyone, man or King, refuses, preferring to meet the Persians in battle. When he is denied by the priests, whose word is law, his request for their blessing to fight, Leonidas ignores the warning and takes his 300 best men and leads a campaign to repel the enemy. His men are as fearless and enthusiastic to fight as he is himself.
While Leonidas is away from home fighting the Persians, his wife, Queen Gorgo, appeals to the council to send more men to aid her husband. She is a wise and fearless woman, though pragmatic, and does what she must to to influence them to do her bidding for the good of all Sparta, however she is betrayed by an influential politician. Enraged, the queen exacts her revenge and therefore reveals the traitor to the councilmen, who in turn unite against Persia.
The whole reason I wanted to see this movie is to watch the luscious Scot, Gerard Butler, in action, and I was not disappointed. Gerard makes for a great Spartan king, loyal to his people and their ways, resourceful, and unafraid of death. His queen, Gorgo, played by Lena Headey, is a formiddable woman, not one to cower behind her husband but one who stands with him, side by side, and speaks her mind freely, as was the way of Spartan women. For once a female character I could actually like and respect, and not one who came across as clingy, dependent, or indecisive.
The killing in this movie is bloody and plentiful, but combined with the special effects, rather fluid and graceful, a ritualistic dance of violent beauty. The Greeks kill thousands of their enemy, building a wall of bodies to demoralize the enemy. Their strategy is incredibly successful as doubt and fear begin to grow.
Based on actual events, the outcome is not a mystery, but nevertheless the unfolding of events is absorbing to watch. Any film that gets me interested in learning the history behind it is a success in my book, because now I truly do want to read more about the actual circumstances that lead to the making of this movie. It must have looked amazing up on the big screen. Sorry I missed that. Great movie all the same, though.
Have you seen "300"?
Did you like it? Why did you go and see it?
Does the re-telling of actual historical events fascinate you?