KJ Exclusive: Report on '300'

Category: 300 News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: November 12, 2006 | Publication: World Of KJ | Author: bABA
Publication/Article Link:http://www.worldofkj.com/index.php

Our correspondent Levy recently had the opportunity to watch a half hour of '300' and listen to director Zack Snyder comment on the many aspects of the film. Below, you will find Levy's comments on what he saw and heard. Enjoy.

A few weeks ago I had the chance to watch half an hour of 300, the upcoming adaptation of the Frank Miller Graphic novel about the Battle of Thermopylae, in which 300 Spartans defeated some ten thousand Persians. The material was not chronological, but director Zack Snyder filled in some of the blanks as he talked about his movie. Some of the scenes were already the final version, others still required some work. But from what was shown, it was apparent that the movie slavishly follows the look of the graphic novel.

The first scene shown was the opening of the movie, which one could describe as "The Way of the Warrior". It depicts the upbringing of a child in Sparta, where weak children are thrown from the cliffs, and the strong ones are taken from their families to get combat training. All this is explained by a narrator who guides us to the last training stage, in which the juvenile has to face a mystic wolf. The young child, of course, is Leonidas who becomes the King of Sparta, and is the central character of 300.

With obvious pleasure, Zack Snyder then went on to the second scene in which Leonidas struggles with what he should do about the imminent threat of the Persians. His doubts are quickly erased by his wife Gorgo, who invites him into her bed. The very tastefully erotic scene seemed to be one of Snyder's favorites, judging by his grinning reaction after the lights went on again. However, in the following Q&A, he jokingly negated that he enjoyed shooting the scene - not surprising, since his wife was in the audience, as well.

The next scene shown depicts the arrival of the persian fleet, in which it is apparent that the Spartans have help from high above in their hopeless fight against the superior Persians. To the great joy of the watching Spartans, a storm is raised, which destroys many of the enemy ships. Another element of this segment was the confrontation between Leonidas and Xerxes, king of the persians. Arriving in a gigantic pyramid shaped sedan, the bald and pierced Xerxes is the personalized arrogance, but fails to intimidate Leonidas. Afterwards, Snyder talked a little bit about the research he put into the movie. Interestingly enough, he stumbled across historical drawings that showed a completely different Xerxes from the man depicted in the graphic novel. Irritated, he called Frank Miller to tell him about what he found out, only to learn that Miller knew all along what the real Xerxes looked like. "But my version looks way cooler", Miller continued. Snyder agreed, let historic details be and continued the film with Miller's vision.

The rest of the scenes shown to the audience were mostly battle scenes. Obviously inspired by "Gladiator", they are brutal and bloody. For Snyder, the only way to adapt 300. "Frank Miller is a violent dude", explained the film maker, before recollecting his first meeting with Miller in a restaurant. In the works for several years, Snyder acquired the rights to the graphic novel way before "Sin City" hit the screen - admitting that Miller today probably wouldn't have sold the rights without securing his right to a say. Although the movie came into being without any input by Miller fans of his work don't need to worry. From the half hour shown, the style and look of the graphic novel have been maintained. The almost unrecognizable Gerard Butler seems a perfect choice as Leonidas, but the supporting roles can't be judged from the scenes shown, just as the movie itself can't really be judged. From the collage of scenes shown, I found it to be an interesting choice to use so much voiceover narrative. Almost half of the scenes had a narration, which was somewhat irritating to the whole experience.

Hopefully Snyder won't use narration in any more scenes of his finished product. Visually, however, 300 will - without a doubt - be a beauty. Even though some of the scenes haven't had the finishing touch, the monochromatic look is perfect. Like "Sin City", completely shown in front of blue screen (Snyder explained that green screen couldn't be used for most scenes since the red robes of the spartanian armor left a yellow touch on the edges when shot in front of green screen. Only for the scenes with the Persian green screen could be used), it is another great example how stunning a movie can look today when the director is able to control all the variables. Whether 300 can deliver more than visual fireworks, can't be answered yet, but all the elements seem in place. Mostly because director Zack Snyder seems to be determinated to be not only be visually faithful, but to also be faithful to the source material of Frank Miller. The last time a director did exactly that, we got "Sin City". So far, it's looking as if 300 can come close to this masterpiece.