Movie Review : 300

Category: 300 Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: March 27, 2007 | Publication: | Author: Arun R
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The movie is an adaptation of the graphic novel by the same name, written by Frank Miller. The movie recounts the Battle of Thermopylae, where a huge Persian army was met by 300 Spartan soldiers and 1100 other Greek soldiers. The 1400 soldiers were able to hold an army of more than a million for 3 days, which gave the Spartans and Athens army a chance to gather a huge army to meet the Persians in the Battle of Plataea, where the Persians were routed.

This battle, were a very few skilled soldiers stood against a huge army has been etched in history as the first war of independence, it turned the king of Sparta, Leonidas – I into a living legend and the battle is always remembered by warriors when they are facing a situation where the odds are stacked heavily against them.

The movie tells us the story of Leonidas (Gerard Butler) through Dilios (David Wenham), who fought the war with Leonidas. Dilios suffered an injury to his eye, and hence was asked by Leonidas to return to Sparta to recount the story to every Spartan and Greek. Leonidas was banking on the oratory skills of Dilios to unite Greece against the Persians.

In the starting scenes, Dilios is telling a group of soldiers about Leonidas. He tells them how he grew up to be their king, recounting incidents during his agoge (military training). Dilios then recounts the incidents which preceded the Battle of Thermopylae and the battle itself.

The Persians led by Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), who has proclaimed himself as the “god-king” plans to invade Europe. His forces are planning to enter Europe through Greece, and after making elaborate arrangements for the cross over of the army, Xerxes sends messengers to the kings of Greece asking them to surrender, failing to comply would result in the annihilation of the entire kingdom. Xerxes asks for earth and water from their homeland as a token of their submission to him.

When the messenger approaches Leonidas, he kicks the messenger into the well, telling him that there was plenty of earth and water in there. Leonidas then visits the priests who live in the mountains, to seek for their approval before setting out to meet the Persians. The priests, who had already been bribed by a counselor loyal to the Persians advised Leonidas against such an endeavour.

Leonidas believes that any delay in sending troops to meet the Greek would jeopardize the lives of his countrymen. He selects a band of 300 of his best soldiers; who had sired sons for Sparta. He tells the counselors that he is going for a walk along with his bodyguards, and sets off to meet the Persians at Thermopylae. On his way, he is met by a group of Greek soldiers, who offer their help in the upcoming battle.

Leonidas and his men arrive at Thermopylae and set up walls, which would make the Persian army to march through a narrow pass, enabling the small army to attack the Persians. Before the battle Leonidas is approached by Ephialtes (Andrew Tiernan), a deformed Spartan whose parents fled Sparta for the fear that Ephialtes would be abandoned for the dead, to fight alongside his army. Ephialtes claims that he has been trained by his father, who was in the army, and wanted to redeem himself by fighting the Persians.

Leonidas rejects his offer, saying that every Spartan solider is part of a unit (phalanx) wherein other than fighting the enemy, they protect the soldier on their sides. Ephialtes, due to his hunch, would prove to be chink in the armour, resulting in the defeat of Spartans. Leonidas suggests that if Ephialtes wants to help, he could carry water, look after the wounded and carry the dead from the battlefield. Ephialtes is offended and leaves Leonidas, promising that Leonidas would regret not taking him in.

Soon the Persians start their waves of attack. The first wave of Persians is routed by the Spartans, their thick shields and war formation giving them an edge over the Persians. Xerxes then sends his best group of soldiers known as Immortals to fight; they also meet the same fate as the earlier group. After the first two attacks, Xerxes himself appears Leonidas, praising him of his valor, and trying to persuade him to stop fighting. Xerxes promises him land and money, saying that Leonidas would be the lord of Greece and would be answerable only to Xerxes. Leonidas rejects the offer and the war continues, with Spartans annihilating every wave of Persian attack.

The first day of the war belonged to the Spartans, who suffered minimal loss and inflicted a huge loss on the Persians, both in terms of numbers as well as their moral. Back in Sparta, the Spartan queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) tries to rally support for her husband amongst the counselors; but to do so she should get the support of Theron (Dominic West) who commands a lot of respect amongst the counselors, but has been bribed by the Persians. Theron wants the queen to sleep with him, in return of his support, which the queen reluctantly agrees to.

When the queen faces the counselors the next day, Theron betrays her by charging her with adultery and protests against any force being sent to support Leonidas. Humiliated, Gorgo stabs Theron; in this process the Persian coins in the possession of Theron spills out and the counselors name him traitor.

In Thermopylae, a disgraced Ephialtes meets Xerxes and tells him of a secret passageway around the Spartans, if taken would result in the Spartans being surrounded and they would easily be killed. Xerxes offers rich rewards to Ephialtes.

After learning that Ephialtes has betrayed them, Leonidas sends most of the Greek troops who had come to support them back to Greece. Spartans could not go back, since it was a rule that Spartans could either return victorious or dead from a war. All Spartans except for Dilios, stay back to meet their death.

In the final scene, before his army is killed and before he himself falls for the Persian arrows, Leonidas manages to injure Xerxes, thereby dispelling the belief that Xerxes was a god king.

The news of the final stand made by Leonidas reach Sparta and the rest of Greece through Dilios, who manages to gather support from every corner of Greece against the Persians. In the final scenes, Dilios is seen leading an army of 10,000 Spartans and 30,000 Greeks against the Persians in the Battle of Plataea, a year after the fall of Leonidas.

I liked the movie for its amazing visuals, the characters and the fight sequences. The movie was shot in 60 days and the post production took almost a year. Majority of the shooting was done indoors with a green or blue background, and the background we see in the movie was added digitally. Every character played out his part, and gave life to it. The fighting sequences were filmed brilliantly. The film deviates from the actual battle of Thermopylae in many ways to appeal to the movie audience.

I’m not sure how much the movie would appeal to the fairer sex, since its all about war. There is plenty of gore, and sequences where heads, arms or legs are cut off. Strangely, the lady who was in our group who went to watch the movie, liked it, she was fascinated with the fact that the movie is based out of a true story.

I would give it a 4/5.