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Swords, sandals, abs and pecs

Category: 300 News
Article Date: March 8, 2007 | Publication: Chicago Sun Times | Author: CINDY PEARLMAN

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'300' wardrobe caused more fuss than bloody battles

LOS ANGELES -- Director Zack Snyder doesn't understand why the studio was so upset. In fact, the very idea of their dismay, well, it was Greek to him.

Yes, Snyder's new movie "300," opening Friday, is a sword, sandal and scandal Greek epic about the Battle of Thermopylae where King Leonidas (Scottish star Gerard Butler) and 300 pumped-up Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his massive Persian army. One of the most famous last stands in history, it united all of Greece. The studio didn't have a problem with the bloody sword battles in the film version of Frank Miller's popular graphic novel. It was more of a wardrobe concern.

Most of the men wear nearly nothing throughout the entire film, making this movie appealing to those who don't give a fig about history or bloody action films.

"You can just imagine the notes I got from the studio," Snyder says over breakfast at the Beverly Hilton.

A slight fellow who looks more like a college student than a hot, up-and-coming director, Snyder, 40, shrugs and recalls the feedback he got when he turned in reels of men clad in teeny loincloths and occasional chest plates that they held in front of their well-toned pecs. Cast members developed these muscles in the "300" boot camp, a month of exercise hell held before filming.

"I got, 'What the hell are you doing? Are you totally insane? Can we put some clothes on these men?' " Synder says.

The film, which stars "Phantom of the Opera" hunk Gerard Butler and Rodrigo Santoro, the new hunk of beefcake on "Lost," is positioned for cult status. In fact, Warner Bros. Studios is embracing the buzz and is releasing the film in midnight screenings the day before it officially enters theaters. (See box at right.)

A gorgeous piece of artwork come to life, the film looks like a painting in motion.

"I filmed most of it in front of a blue screen," Snyder says. "But I focused on the reality of the moments. When someone takes a swing with a stick at your head, I wanted the audience to feel the blood.

"I didn't want the movie to look like it was made in a computer like 'The Polar Express,' " he cautions. "My movie was shot on film, and I put the grain back into each frame. I wanted it to feel like the Frank Miller book which by its very nature is a very rough experience.

"I went for that organic feeling," says the Wisconsin native and director of 2004's "Dawn of the Dead." But, he says, "300" has been his biggest challenge to date.

"It's based on a graphic novel which is based on a historical event. How do you tell this story now and reinvent the ideas?" he says.

Next up for Snyder is the big budget "Watchmen" for Warner Bros. The film is set at a time when superheroes are banned and revved- up humans must take over to save the earth.

"We plan to shoot in the summer, although I have no cast. You can say I've spoken to several big names," he says. "It's such rich work -- the richest there is, so I'm being careful."

Will there be wardrobe this time?

"They will be clothed in 'Watchmen,' " he insists. "I don't think I could put the studio through this again."

Big Picture News Inc.


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