SPARTAN FIGHT CLUB
Category: 300 News | Posted by: DaisyMay
Article Date: March 30, 2007 | Publication: The Voice | Author: Amina Taylor
Publication/Article Link:The Voice
An account of a classic battle in ancient Greece is brought to life on the big screen, Amina Taylor speaks to Frank Miller, one of the brains behind 300
Frank Millerís imagination must be stuck on overdrive. With Sin City 2 in production, Millerís executively produced 300 is wowing audiences in cinemas with its amped-up, computer graphically-aided battle in ancient Greece which saw 300 brave Spartans take on the might of the Persian empire in 480BC.
Touted as this seasonís first genuine blockbuster, Miller takes a backseat with directing as Zack Snyderís vision of 300 breaks new ground. As the creator of the original graphic novel on which 300 is based, Film Focus got a rare opportunity to quiz the man whose imagination is revolutionising film.
What inspired you to write 300?
I was a five-year-old boy when I saw The 300 Spartans, a movie made in 1962. I had never seen a story where the heroes died before. It led to a life-long fascination with that battle and that war, and it became a story I never stopped talking about. So, once I thought I could draw and write it well enough I went to Greece and began the research, and a few years later produced the book. It haunted me ever since I was a little kid.
It feels like a Spartan wrote it.
It was meant to be that way. I wanted it to sound as if it had been told by an old warrior over a campfire and to look as we would vision it while listening to him. I wrote it for that five-year-old me.
What was it about director Zack Snyderís vision for 300 that made you confident that he could tell this story right?
He understands the battle as well as I do, and that is saying a lot. My historical knowledge is patchy in certain ways, but I know an awful lot about a three-day battle. And his understanding about the intent of the piece was identical to mine. If anything, he wanted to amplify it. Also, he was up on all the technological stuff that was necessary to make the movie. I liked him Ė I liked his confidence and also his sense of humour regarding the material. He knew how to push the boundaries and he didnít want to make something that was star heavy and then collapse, because he wanted to be faithful to the story.
How did you collaborate with him on the film?
To tell the truth, I didnít do much. I had just become a director myself on Sin City and realized that the last thing he needed was a bunch of people yelling at him. So, as the script came in I spoke my mind about it and quibbled here and there, went over some of the early cuts and so on; but my remarks were minimal. It was Zackís movie and that is what I wanted it to be. I love what he did and I am glad I held back.
Being a director yourself, did you think of getting more involved and maybe even directing it with him?
Of course it crossed my mind; but once a film starts working, if another director jumps on board nobody knows who to listen to. And I didnít want to do anything to mitigate his authority.
How did you feel when you visited the set?
I was there for a couple of days. I felt like that little five year old sitting in the middle of the movie theatre, seeing those men in red capes fighting all the bad guys. I was transported.
What kind of research did you conduct for the project?
I read everything from Herodotus onwards, studied ancient world history and put it in context. And I travelled through Greece, saw those tall cliffs and cruel skies, and realised what a formidable place it would be to attack. I also met with the people and saw how they could move across those impossible places like mountain goats, which explained to me more about the nature of that battle than anything else I could have done.
What qualities do you think lead actor Gerard Butler brings to the role of King Leonidas?
I thought he brought to the role exactly what it needed. He was a real hammer-fist in a role that you rarely see these days, the kind of part Kirk Douglas played in Spartacus (1960). He is all man, all the time, with no policies. I think that in the case of Leonidas, raised the way he was, with the life he had and the decisions he was making, anything less than that degree of energy would have come across as terribly modern. I didnít want this to exist in a certain time, but to be what it really is: not just a classical story, but also an eternal one.
What do you think of Hollywood turning its head towards graphic novels in order to find good stories?
Well, they have to find them somewhere. For a long time, when these graphic novels had gotten into Hollywoodís hands they had been turned inside out; but now a younger breed of producers and directors are showing up who want to keep the material as vigorous and vital as what they first saw on the printed page. Also, we have moved ahead technologically to a point where the excitement of the drawing can be translated onto the screen. So, I can see Gerard Butler in combat; but the sky behind him looks to me like it was painted by Lynn Varley, who did all the colours in the original book. This way, you are able to take the readers to a brand new place where in the past only the artistís hand could.
What did you think of the film when you finally saw it completed for the first time?
I almost couldnít believe I was seeing it, and I also couldnít believe how many of my favourite lines had been kept. There were lines I was praying would make it, like when Xerxes spoke of sharing a culture and Leonidas answered: ďWe have been sharing a culture with you all morning,Ē referring to having been slaughtering all morning. Honestly, I was practically doing handstands when I saw it.