Graphic novel comes to life in 300
Category: 300 Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: April 19, 2007 | Publication: The Kenyon Collegian | Author: Caleb Ruopp
The movie 300, which opened recently, is a dramatic retelling of the historic Battle of Thermopylae between 300 Spartans and the entire Persian army, numbering somewhere in the hundreds of thousands. Based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, the movie was no doubt slightly historically inaccurate. I doubt that the Persians had giant misshapen creatures on their side, for example. However, it was a very entertaining movie and inspired a feeling of Spartan patriotism in my heart. Bloody and full of violence, it still had time for a few good laughs and was well rounded by subplots.
Gerard Butler plays Leonidas, the king of Sparta and the leader of the 300 warriors. He was a commanding figure on screen, and his cocky smile made you want to grin as well. In his first major scene, where he faces off with a messenger from Xerxes, I felt inspired when he proudly said the now-famous line, "This is Sparta!" This scene set the mood and gave a good impression of Leonidas' personality and attitude, while also filling in the audience on the back story.
Rodrigo Santoro plays Xerxes, the king who thinks he is a god. He appeared to tower over all he surveyed and had a very believable "holier than thou" air about him in all of his scenes. I especially enjoyed his painful realization that he was mortal; the shock and disbelief mingling with the pierced cheekbones really made for a good expression.
I asked a few classics professors what they thought about the movie. Assistant Professor of Classics Adam Serfass said "I'm not going to be seeing it. I don't want to taint my imagination of the actual event," while Assistant Professor of Classics Amber Scaife said, "I'm looking forward to seeing it. I've read the graphic novel, and I liked it."
They went on to say that the oversized and mutated Persian giants, which I asked about, were probably based on the rumors spread back then about the Persian army. Not to mention that the premise of the movie is that one of the 300 is telling the story to the rest of the Spartans-and no doubt embellishing a little.
I wouldn't describe the movie as an epic, but it is a movie that is much better suited to the large screen, with surround sound to really fill you with the desire to stand up and shout, "For Sparta!" The movie's comic-book feel mostly worked, with its occasional narration and some of the Persian army being less than human-such as one who was ten feet tall and had swords for hands. I found the hunchback, however, to be a little over the top; he seemed too deformed. Nobody's perfectly imperfect.
All in all it was a satisfying movie. The only reason I wouldn't see it again is because I already know how it ends-with honor.