Oh, so you want swords huh? And sandals too? Fine…I’ll give them to you. You know what? I’ll give you 300 of them! Yes, 300 swords accompanying 300 pairs of sandals. Worn by 300 buff and tough warriors. For “we are Sparta!”. Ok, so there may not have been exclusively 300 swords but I’m not getting technical here, just like I’m not getting into the debate around the historical accuracy of this film. Nor am I even mentioning any sequel (I don’t do sequels of movies I enjoy). This is 300 (2006) as it stands.
Based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynne Varley, you’ll be rewarded with lots and lots of sandals. And trust me, plenty of swords together with a far larger body count as it tells a fictional version of the Battle of Thermopylae. Depending on how you look at it, you’ll also be rewarded with many a six pack and scantily clad (hmmm, actually cape-and-Speedo-clad) warriors as Gerard Butler, David Wenham and Michael Fassbender among others go into battle against the mighty Persian army appearing as if “all the world’s warriors gathered against us”. You may also appreciate the sandals (no sword I’m afraid, but I wouldn’t put it past her) of Queen Gorgo played by Lena Headey. She’s the perfect match for Gerard Butler‘s Spartan King Leonidas.
This is a great movie that, for me, was best seen on the big screen as nothing quite compares to the visual impact of the Persian messengers coming to Sparta on horse-back and riding, no, almost flying over the ridge in one smooth swoop. And with a dynamic leader like King Leonidas you definitely need enough space that only the big screen can offer. What do you expect from someone who spurs his warriors on with “Spartans. Ready your breakfast and eat hearty for tonight we dine in hell!”. Xerxes played by Rodrigo Santoro likewise needs enough space (you may barely recognise him here just like you may miss him in his role in Jane Got a Gun).
What works really well in this case and probably makes the movie what it is are the effects used. Everything appears sepia with the exception of the Spartan warrior capes and graphically drawn splattering blood which come across in a contrasting red. This, together with the slowed down action sequences make for great viewing. In general, the various battle scenes are wonderfully choreographed (for in their slow motion they really are almost dance-like) and other scenes have a superb cinematographic detail. It really is something.
Make no mistake, this film is violent and gruesome but has ever so slight a comic relief from some great lines. One of my favourites is when a Persian messenger tries to intimidate the Spartans with “A thousand nations of the Persian empire will descend upon you. Our arrows will blot out the sun!” to which Stelios, a Spartan warrior replies “Then we will fight in the shade.”
Directed by Zack Snyder, 300 was filmed almost entirely using a green screen and stars Gerard Butler, Lena Headey as well as Dominic West, David Wenham (he’s great in Pope Joan), Michael Fassbender, Vincent Regan, Tom Wisdom (you should watch him in the fabulous Pirate Radio) and the list goes on.
As I always say, watch it for yourself and enjoy! Just one tip though – the bigger the screen the better. Happy watching.
PS: Out of interest, there’s a website that compares History vs Hollwood of different movies, 300 one of them, including a comparison of the characters. It makes for some interesting reading.
* Quotes taken from watching the movie.