300 O'Clock High

Category: 300 News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: November 8, 2006 | Publication: FilmStew.com | Author: Richard Horgan
Publication/Article Link:http://www.filmstew.com/showBlog.aspx?blog_id=884

We’re all familiar with the L.A. Q & A screening routine.

After an entire film is shown, a panel discussion with select principal(s) ensues, guided by anyone from F.X. Feeney to Pete Hammond. But to see major chunks of a still wet upcoming new release, interspersed with lively podium commentary from the co-writer and director, followed by a host-less exchange between said director and the colorful author of the colorful source material, well, that’s something special.

That was the scene this afternoon on The Lot in Hollywood where, beginning at 3 p.m., Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead) unveiled footage from his spectacular March 2007 action epic 300, about the historic Before Christ battle between 300 Greek Spartan soldiers and many, many more Persians. In his intro to the proceedings, Warner Bros. production executive Greg Silverman made reference to The Matrix as one of the few other big-budget times he has been this excited about a studio project, and the comparison is apt. Snyder’s green screen spectacular, for which only two brief moments were shot outside the confines of a Montreal soundstage, is going to do for the historical epic what the Wachowski brothers did for the mumbo jumbo sci-fi thriller. Not to mention crown leading man Gerard Butler as the rightful heir to Mel’s Braveheart throne.

“Cool movie, Zack!” exclaimed graphic novelist Frank Miller as he strolled down a middle aisle to join Snyder at the front of the screening room, wearing a familiar Fedora. Few people remember the old 1962 film The 300 Spartans, but for Miller, it was a formative experience. “I saw it when I was six, seven-years-old, with my brother, who was nine,” the author recalls. “At one point, I asked my dad, ‘Are the good guys going to die?’ And he said, ‘I’m afraid so, son.’ That movie definitely redefined heroes for me.”

“Thanks to Zack’s dedication, his verve and even his humor, we will hopefully create another situation of bright-eyed kids who have a story they can’t get out of their heads.”

Snyder is indeed a funny guy, a surf-like dude who peppered his comments with many comical asides about the British cast (“notoriously health conscious people who love fitness”), the choice of Montreal as a location (“I know… French and harsh winters instantly brings to mind Greece”) and his ongoing amazement during the making of 300 that Warner Bros. was giving him free reign (“I kept thinking, ‘Dawn wasn’t that good, guys’”). By applying equal amounts of attitude, visual style and unapologetic violence to a 2,500-year-old stage, he appears – dare I say it – to have out-Sin City-ed Sin City.

Miller says that along with producer Gianni Nunnari’s undying enthusiasm and producer Mark Canton’s undying obsession, this upcoming adaptation of 300 was sealed by how impressed the author was with Snyder’s knowledge of the subject matter. Especially when, during their first meeting, he brought up author and historian Victor Davis Hanson.