Swords, sandals and CGI in 300

Category: 300 News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: October 15, 2006 | Publication: Kung Fu Cinema | Author: Mark Pollard
Publication/Article Link:http://kungfucinema.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=108&Itemid=9

One of the most spectacular and bloody last stands in military history as envisioned by graphic novelist Frank Miller is coming to the big screen by way of a whole lot of CGI effects work and a large cast of brawny, sword-bearing he-men in little more than loincloths and helmets.

300 is the name of the movie and it tells of how King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) led 300 Spartan warriors on a suicide mission to defend Greece by holding off a massive Persian invasion. Using a narrow pass to their advantage, the vastly outnumbered, but highly-trained and highly-motivated Spartans held off Xerxes and his army for several days in what came to be known as the Battle of Thermopylae.

What makes this sword and sandals movie different from GLADIATOR, ALEXANDER and TROY is its unique visual style and over-the-top action, all inspired by Frank Millerís graphic novel of the same name. To recreate the stylized carnage that unfolds in the pages of Millerís book, director Zack Snyder (DAWN OF THE DEAD) applied similar techniques used by Robert Rodriguez to shoot SIN CITY by filming 300 almost entirely in front of blue screens.

Shooting 300 warriors pitted against thousands, who were meant to not only represent the pinnacle of martial prowess in 5th-century Greece, but also match the superheroes of Millerís telling required a different approach. Thatís where stunt and fight coordinator Damon Caro (THE BOURNE SUPREMACY) and his first assistant Chad Stahelski (THE MATRIX) come in.

With no historical guideline for period Spartan or Persian combat to work from, the fight coordinators drew on a variety of more modern Eastern and Western martial arts styles to find the right mix of screen fighting techniques.

Caro and Stahelski have both been schooled at the The Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts where they learned Filipino martial arts and Jeet Kune Do. Their skills got them into the movie business where they have been collectively working as stuntmen, doubles, and stunt and fight coordinators on some of the hottest action films coming out of Hollywood over the last 15-plus years. They currently run the 87Eleven action film company along with David Leitch.

The warrior cast of 300, led by Gerard Butler (BEOWULF & GRENDEL) went through intensive physical training prior to the shoot, under the guidance of trainer and mountain climber Mark Twight, to buff up and prepare for the filmís many demanding fight sequences.

Considerably buzz has been building around the web over 300 and for good reason considering what has been seen of the visually-stunning production so far.

A jaw-dropping teaser is available in high-definition Quicktime. An official production blog has been running with video segments posted that include features on the training and fight choreography. Fans of the graphic novel will especially enjoy a side-by-side comparison of Millerís drawn images with film stills. Thereís also a Myspace site available.

Warner Bros. has scheduled 300 for release March 9th, 2007. To help pass the time, check out Steven Pressfieldís excellent historical novel GATES OF FIRE. It fills in all the details surrounding the Battle of Thermopylae and the militaristic Spartans who fought in it.