Miller's 300 Thrills With Throes
Category: 300 News | Posted by: DaisyMay
Article Date: February 26, 2007 | Publication: UTD Mercury Online Student Newspaper | Author: Lucas Johnson
Decapitation. Dismemberment. Death. All in a day's work for the Spartan heroes of the new movie "300."
"300" tells the story of the Battle of Thermopylae, a historical event which pitted the continent-conquering armies of Persia against a mere 300 warriors of the Spartan army.
"The first time you see the Spartans, they're deciding whether to throw their children off a cliff," said director Zack Snyder. "So, we're not supposed to identify too much with them."
Snyder oversaw the remake of "Dawn of the Dead," and he brings the same intensity to "300."
Frank Miller and Lynn Varley wrote and created the artwork for the graphic novel of the same title on which the movie is based.
Like the movie "Sin City," also adapted from Miller's graphic novels, "300" stays faithful to its source material in story as well as visual style. Many of the shots spring straight from the pages of the book. Both movies used blue-screen technology to superimpose actors on top of computer-generated backgrounds.
Rodrigo Santoro, who plays Persian King Xerxes, said, "It's great exercise for an actor to use every cell in his brain to imagine a million men behind you."
Santoro suffered for his art. His role required him to be completely hairless, so he waxed his body.
"I have so much respect for women now," Santoro said.
Gerard Butler also suffered for the film. To prepare for his role as Spartan King Leonides, he trained in a gym twice a day. He said the painful training, which included banging his head against a wall, not only made him look like a king, but also helped him feel angry.
"In the middle of the film, I don't know if I could kick a single person's ass," Butler said. "But, I felt like I could...and I wanted to."
Butler said he abandoned himself to the role of Leonides. When he bellowed, "We will take everything, and give nothing," he embodied the authority of a king.
He showed he could be subtler in scenes with Leonides's wife.
"So much is said in this film with silences," Butler said. "Even the raising of an eyebrow can show so much."
Snyder wanted experienced actors, but he decided not to use well-known stars.
"I didn't want the movie to pop like that," Snyder said. "'What's Brad Pitt doing in a loincloth? I just saw him with Angelina (Jolie)?'"
Snyder flew to London to find actors who would not be familiar to American audiences and who also had the desired vocal training.
"It's a convention of sword-and-sandals movies to have the British accent, and not a fake one," Snyder said.
His decision paid off. The actors' accents never distract from the story.
Some surreal touches, like a man with the head of a donkey, add moments of humor to a mostly-dark movie.
"300" looks great. It tells an action-packed story with believable, sympathetic characters. Go see it.