Comix-to-Flix - 300
Category: 300 News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: November 25, 2005 | Publication: JoBlo.com | Author: Vincent Adriance
COMIX-TO-FLIX is a JoBlo.com column featuring reviews of comic book graphic novels that have been optioned to be made into motion pictures. Seeing as the universe of comic books and movies is becoming more and more connected, we figured that we may as well jump right into them as well, especially since we love both mediums to begin with. We hope that you enjoy this new addition to the site and be sure to email us with your thoughts.
by Frank Miller
In the year 480 BC, emperor Xerxes of Persia attempted to invade Greece and add it to his growing empire. At the time, Greece was made up of city-states, the greatest of which were Athens and Sparta. Facing invasion from the Persians, the Greek city-states attempt to raise an army to fight for their homes. However raising this army will take time. In order to buy the time it takes to get an army ready, King Leonidas of Sparta volunteers himself and 300 of his elite guard to hold off the entire Persian army of 100,000 plus men. They made their stand at Thermopylae knowing they would die.
“That bold Leonidas and his three hundred, so far from home, laid down their lives, not just for Sparta, but for ALL GREECE—and the PROMISE our country holds” –Dilios
300 is currently being shot as we speak. The lead role of King Leonidas is being played by Gerard “don’t call me Phantom” Butler. While a Frank Miller adaptation, this is not like Sin City. Don’t expect him to get the input he had with Sin City, this is being adapted in the normal Hollywood manner. What does that mean? Well, multiple writers, no inclusion of the original author in the creative process, etc. But hey, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be bad.
Many years ago, in an effort to educate children, great literature was adapted into comics. These books were named Classics Illustrated and acted as cliffs notes for a whole generation of kids. The reason I bring this up is because 300 by Frank Miller is the story of one of the great battles in history and reads like History Illustrated. Before going further into critiquing the book I want to address the main nitpick with this book. Many history buffs complain about he accuracy of the book. I am not going to try and defend this book as worthy of being a text in a history class, but it does have educational merit. I say that because after reading this, I myself was energized to go and read up on the 300 Spartans and the battle of Thermopylae, and if a teen reading this is inspired to learn more it has already gone beyond being entertainment. So if you want accuracy watch the Hitler, sorry I mean History channel.
Frank Miller has done something here that I am not used to from him. With Leonidas and the Spartans he has written a story about the nobility of sacrifice. Normally Frank Miller’s characters (as you can see in Sin City) will sacrifice themselves but they do it because they do not value themselves. These Spartans are proud warriors who know that each one of them is worth ten times the soldiers of the other Greek city states. Yet all of them go to die in the hopes of giving Greece a chance to defend itself. This story is a slight departure from the grim city-scapes Miller is famous for.
“Spartans ready your breakfast and eat hearty—for tonight we dine in HELL!” –Leonidas
While the character’s motivations and nobility differ from the normal Frank Miller, the art and hyper violence do not. I really think Miller was able to do a better job with the ancient battle scenes because he had so much experience with illustrating dismemberment in his past works. Man kind has come a long way in the past few thousand years, but compare Sin City to 300 and you will see that once guns are out of the mix, you won’t find that many new ways to kill someone. For me, this added gore is not just for show, it helps add a sense of the brutality that was common place in this era.
The story is what makes this book more than just a book full of pretty pictures. Miller has taken this historical moment and made it a metaphor for a lot of different things. First is that in order to win, sometimes you first have to lose. A novel concept that has gone away as far as I can tell. Also this battle becomes a struggle between reason and barbarism. To Leonidas the rule of law is the most important part of society. Given the events in the world today it is interesting how this conflict could be used by either political orientation (left or right) to justify their position. This is a testament to how universal the acceptance of the rule of law has become.
This story is an excellent introduction to the legend of the 300 Spartans. I gotta admit I’m a sucker for these ancient battles. And as far as sword and sandal ancient battles go, this one is perhaps the greatest of all time. Miller draws you the reader into this world using relatively few words, and a comparatively short number of pages. This is a testament to the subject, and the writer for letting the moment capture the reader. Sometimes writers try to over explain and stumble, not so here.
“Cruel Leonidas demanded that you stand. I require only that you kneel.” –Xerxes
The book retails for $30 and is bound in a nice looking hardcover. But I find it a little hard to stomach this price for so short a collection. To be sure the art is excellent and the story engrossing, but in terms of bang for your buck, don’t pay any more than $20 (check out the link to Amazon above, as I think they are selling it for 19 and some change) for this book if you can.
Another problem with this book is its design. If you collect a lot of trades and have a book case for them, this one will stick out like a sore thumb. It is much more of a coffee table style book, and doesn’t fit nicely in most shelving. This is not the biggest deal in the world, but storage is usually an issue down the line and might be something to consider prior to spending the money on it.
The book is good and I think one of the few times that a film adaptation could easily surpass the source material. The battle scenes could end up amazing once translated to screen. My fear is losing focus of the sacrifice of these men. The part of the story that makes this battle great is the fact that the Spartans knew they would die. Get this part of the story right, and the battles will be more meaningful. Bottom line, this story has a lot of potential, and I think this movie should be fun to watch.
”A NEW age is begun. An age of GREAT DEEDS, an age of REASON. An age of JUSTICE. An age of LAW. And ALL WILL KNOW that THREE HUNDRED SPARTANS gave their LAST BREATH to DEFEND it.” –Leonidas
GRAPHIC NOVEL RATING (7/10)
MOVIE POTENTIAL (8/10)