In 480 B.C. A cadre of 300 Spartan soldiers, led by King Leonidas (Gerard Butler), formed the vanguard of a Greek resistance army which held back an invasion by The Persian Empire, and led to a Pyrrhic victory for it's Zoroastrian ruler King Xeres (Rodrigo Santoro). Not that any of the aforementioned really comes across in Zack Snyder's '300': an intermittently engaging, but poorly written and overacted adaptation of Frank Miller & Lyn Varley's equally absurd 1998 graphic novel. Now I loved Robert Rodriguez's 'Sin City' for all its scuzzy artistic flair and nihilistic nods to 1940s film noir, but have never warmed to Frank Miller's overrated, occasionally Gobellian, output. Preferring instead the unpretentious and infinitely more accomplished work of Joe Sacco, Andy & Larry Wachowski, Neil Gaimen or the fun, colourful creativity of old masters like Stan Lee and John Romita.
A voice-over by Spartan Dilios (played by 'Lord Of The Rings' veteran David Wenham) is, I presume, an attempt at Kurosawa-esque subtly; highlighting the personal interpretations of truth (i.e. in Sparta's case: morale boosting hyperbole & propaganda to rally her forces) but this is pure guesswork on my part, and leads me to confirm Snyder's stunning inability to comprehend or translate any semblance of irony whatsoever; he did the same thing in 'Dawn Of The Dead' (a remake I quite enjoyed in spite of its flaws) where the mall became a safe-haven, unlike in Romero's original where it was used in conjunction with the zombie epidemic as a means to satirize consumerism. History tells us the real narrator's name was Aristodemus, both he and his comrade-in-arms Eurytus picked up eye infections during the battle; both were sent home but Eurytus disobeyed and returned to embrace "Spartan glory". For this reason, Aristodemus was shunned upon his return, and despite showing great courage in the Battle of Plataea, was ostracized by his countrymen for the rest of his life. Harsh. Now exposition or panelled narration is all well and good on the page, but having some husky voiced orator give us a blow-by-blow account of scenes we can actually see becomes tiresome and unintentionally hilarious, robbing '300' of some much needed flair & excitement, Wai Keung Lau's 'A Man Called Hero' had similar narrative issues, though at least it didn't resort to describing on screen action.
An erotic dancer / oracle (very authentic, I'm sure) advises King Leonidas against going on the warpath during their holy month. But low & behold, her keepers; an irredeemably repulsive quartet of revered priests, memorably described as "pompous inbred swine", are lewd old men on the Persian payroll, and thus Leonidas gathers 300 partisans to meet the aggressors head on. Their first skirmish is pretty intense, the second less so and by the time the third, forth, fifth and sixth occur you're beyond caring. I'd say there were too many battle sequences, but scenes of political intrigue back home in Sparta are so dull, they almost make you wish for a return to the battlefield for yet another OTT, super slo-mo scuffle. Lena Headly (playing Queen Gorgo) struggles with Miller's stilted, cringe worthy dialogue; a prose style that may work in its original medium but grates when read aloud, and all credit to her, Lena manages to turn what could've easily been an intensely annoying, 1950s style speecifying wartime filly, into a reasonably well rounded character, albeit one who only speaks in clichés. Her political adversary is smarmy Spartan Theron; an absolute cad who has a better tan than his compatriots hence confirming this picture's abhorrent visual racism against the darker hued peoples of the Earth. Miller's pedestrian script also tends to gloss over the fact that our heroes were an inspiration to many a latter-day tyrant their societal structure exalted, perverted & implemented by the likes of Hitler, Jobitinsky, Bush, Rhodes, Mussolini, Mayer, Mao and Stalin; incorporated into such inane and venal polices like eugenics, pederasty, incinerating weak or disabled newborns and the dehumanisation of society though endless conflict & war. The entire polytheistic world (and its occidental mirror image in our time) was, in spite of some scientific and artistic achievements, seeped in total darkness; shackled to arcane and irrational habits derived from the antediluvian period of pre & post-flood idolatry. If truth be told, the Persian Empire, though far more civilised an entity than Sparta, was just as cruel, just as backwards and idolatrous as her Greek adversaries. Briefly seized by Alexander The Great in 330 B.C., the mighty empire recovered to its full strength before it was finally toppled by Islamic monotheism, after a long, hard campaign led by Caliph Umar The Great and his fellow Muslim Arabs in 23.A.H. Sparta meanwhile, wasn't blessed with as famous a demise as old Persia, and was rather unceremoniously overcome by Epaminondas and his Theban Sacred Band in 337 B.C.
Now its alleged that the Iranian Arts & Culture secretariat were none too pleased by Snyder's depiction of Persia's pre-Islamic past, though how anyone could be offended by such an intentionally gratuitous, and frankly nonsensical movie is beyond me, after all, its hardly 'The Battle Of Algiers' (banned in France upon its release), 'Lion Of The Desert' (banned in Italy), 'Hidden Agenda' (heavily suppressed in Britain upon its release), 'Army of Shadows' (banned in the U.S. for a staggering 37 years) or 'Valley Of The Wolves: Iraq' (censored in the U.S. and unreleased in Britain). '300' is about a bunch of buff, well dressed warriors who fight in a big battle and then go home...or die. Indeed, if 'The Battle Of Thermopylae' serves as a modern day analogy for anything, it's most likely for Mujahadeen warriors taking on the massive Anglo-American-Israeli-NATO coalition in Afghanistan. For Leonidas, like a Taliban leader in Helmand Province, conceives convoluted, near suicidal yet ingenious guerrilla strategies to negate Xeres armies in Sparta's mountainous corridor: 'The Hot Gates'. In much the same way as the Afghanis, outgunned and outnumbered, are said to use knowledge of their lands to thwart invasion after invasion; humiliating militarily superior aggressors from the British Empire (trounced on three separate occasions) to the Soviet Union, the Mongol Horde and now North America too. And perhaps the best evidence for the above is '300's' perennial conflict between ariel bombardment and hand-to-hand-combat: "cowards" snarls Leonidas in response to an incoming wave of Persian arrows. For Xeres, like the U.S., is supremely confident in his air superiority whilst Leonidas, like the Afghanis, prefers to look his enemy in the eye; and for all his bombastic pronouncements about glory and martyrdom, it should come as no surprise to learn that Leonidas is the Greek equivalent of the Arabic name Osama. And yet, at the end of the day, '300' is a graphic novel, a comic, and not a very good one at that, for as Sigmund Freud once said: "Sometimes a cigar is simply a cigar". Though I did learn that Xeres was a giant Latino drag queen, Leonidas couldn't quite keep the Glasgow out of his Greek accent, Persian harems look a lot like Moroccan-themed cafes whilst Spartans bypassed the whole concept of Hades and jumped forward a few centuries with talk of Hell. Clever.
One could argue that this self-important soufflé of uncircumcised, dick swinging bravado displayed a modicum of authority blasting out on IMAX but shrivelled up on the small screen '300' is exposed as nothing more than dumbed down history for bozos. Snyder's insistence on having his cast overact isn't hyper-real, but simply highlights the fakery of battle scenes CGI'ed to kingdom come. Half the time he comes across as an incompetent fan boy who can't quite decide whether he wants to make 'Der Sieg des Glaubens' or cut promos for the WWE, and perhaps that's less an indictment of the director, then it is the writer Snyder so slavishly dotes over. On a more positive note: I liked the impressive CG work conveying the scale of a burning Spartan village, the first clash at 'The Hot Gates', Gerard Butler's commanding performance, David Wenham's closing speech, Spartans deflecting Persian bombs whilst Snyder's penultimate, post battle, shot was beautifully done (even Dilios's voice over worked here), and reminds me of Jacque Louis David's painting "Leonidas an den Thermopylen" (1814) now if only the rest of the film had matched up. As a ludicrous, mildly entertaining action movie, you could do worse than '300' and perhaps in a world without 'Braveheart', 'Gladiator', 'Lord Of The Rings', 'Kingdom Of Heaven', 'Troy', 'Alexander' & 'The 13th Warrior', this would've been hailed as a landmark picture. '300' is ultimately undone by a terrible script which promotes the anachronistic, tragic myths of race, war & nationalism; an embarrassing set of costly delusions best consigned to the footnotes of history. So if its ancient Greece and war you"re after; I'd recommend revisiting Wolfgang Peterson's masterly take on Homer's 'The Iliad' in 'Troy': An epic film that, unlike '300', depicts conflict in all its illusory allure and banal, horrific reality.
this film is fabulous as great as sin city if not better i am quite a big fan of gory and blood thirsty films but this one takes the biscuit. Gerard Butler plays his role very well and so do his co stars (Lena Headey, Dominic West and Zach Snyder)
this film as as good as Frank Miller and Lynn Varley's graphic novel
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Leonidas is the king of ancient Sparta The city is famous for its warrior philosophy and Leonidas won kneel to the demands of Persia&39;s King Xerxes Instead Leonidas leads his 300-strong army against Xerxes&39;s army of millions Meanwhile his wife campaigns in Sparta for the city to send reinforcements as she butts heads with the treacherous Theron
Adapted from the comic book series by Frank Miller, this is a modern retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC, when the 100,000 strong invading Persian Army of King Xerxes was held back in a narrow mountain pass by 300 Spartans. King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) is given four days by Persia's King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) to lay down his arms and surrender. Rejecting the proposal, the battle ensues, and the Spartans are only defeated by the treachery of local shepherd Ephialtes (Andrew Tiernan), who shows the Persians a secret route, enabling them to outflank their opponents.