300: Of Mythology and of Montreal
Category: 300 News | Posted by: maryp
Article Date: March 3, 2007 | Publication: La Presse | Author: Marc-André Lussier
To lend shape to the mythological vision of a battle from Antiquity created by the author of Sin City, the 300 crew came to Montreal.
You are in the City of Angels to attend a press meeting organised around the coming release of 300, an adaptation of a graphic novel written by the author of Sin City, Frank Miller. The head still spinning from the eye-catching images, created by virtual effects, and the very "rock 'n' roll" manner in which you have been drawn into a battle from Antiquity, you are trying to catch your breath. As you take time to read the end credits, you are seeing that the names with a Quebecois ring are multiplying and rolling for a good while, linked to almost every step of the production.
"It's normal, then says the director Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead). The movie has been almost entirely made in Montreal. In a proportion of at least 90 %, I'd say!"
The Quebecois enterprise Hybride, already famous for the quality of its numerical visual effects, has been among those to contribute. The stars of the movie, Gerard Butler, Rodrigo Santoro, Dominic West and Lena Headey, have done battle on a Montreal set in front of a green screen, the remaining surroundings having been added in post-production.
Jeffrey Silver, one of the producers of this epic movie, made with a budget of roughly 55 million dollars, has declared, in one press conference, that the choice of directing the movie in Montreal made complete sense.
The battle of the Thermopylae
"On one hand, the visual effects that Hybride had created for Sin City were already amazing, he explained. The method of the enterprise fitted perfectly with Zack's vision. What's more, the technicians we have in Montreal are first-class. And I have to say that the dynamic policies put forward by the authorities to bring production to shoot in Montreal are very appealing in terms of financing."
This aspect of things was evidently important. When producers went in the Warner Brothers' to talk of the idea of making a movie based on the work Frank Miller had done about a famous battle from Antiquity, enthusiasm wasn't really there. At least, not in the beginning.
"We could understand them, went on one of the producers. Troy didn't really get the hoped-for success, and Alexander had flatly disappointed. They thought we were coming with a project of the same nature."
Luckily for them, Sin City was released with the success that we know. The unique characteristics of 300, as much in the narrative sense than in the visual one, have then been able to convince the brass of the singularity of the proposed vision.
In this sense, 300 relates in a very stylised manner the mythical battle of the Thermopylae, in 480 B.C., when 300 Spartans, led by King Leonidas I (Gerard Butler), fight to the death against the Persian army of Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). Pumped with testosterone, the movie goes to the end of its convictions. And stays true to Frank Miller's graphic novel. Meaning that nothing has been "softened" towards a more realistic, more "human" or more politically correct vision. Here, we are immersed fully into mythology with characters greater than life, fraught with muscle, fierce and blood-thirsty.
Gerard Butler, seen among others in Lara Croft and The Phantom of the Opera, has thus needed to submit himself to a Spartan discipline in order to give shape to King Leonidas.
Bernie Goldman, one of the movie producers, has said that the choice of Butler was finalised when the team saw his interpretation in Dear Frankie, a Shona Auerbach film. "In this movie, he showcased such a masculinity that we immediately thought he would be perfect for the role of Leonidas. Gerard is one of these men who need do nothing to establish their authority. I think that 300 is the movie which will make him a star."
300 is released March 9. Soon in La Presse, our interviews with Rodrigo Santoro, Gerard Butler and Zack Snyder. Travel paid by Warner Brothers.