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30 Astoria Greeks storm Manhattan for '300'

Category: 300 News
Article Date: March 15, 2007 | Publication: TimesLedger.com | Author: Nathan Duke
Source: http://www.timesledger.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18083773&BRD=2676&PAG=461&dept_id=542415&rfi=6

Posted by: DaisyMay


At the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C., 300 Spartans died fighting to preserve the world's first democracy against an advancing Persian army of 100,000 men. At 12:45 a.m. Saturday, one-tenth of that number of residents with Greek lineage from Astoria trekked to Manhattan to see the movie about the battle, which is being called the year's first blockbuster.

Astoria's Peter Lagonikos said he and his brother rounded up more than 30 borough residents, including Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) to see the new film "300" on the IMAX screen at AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 on Broadway in Manhattan.

Lagonikos said he has since seen the film a second time with 15 friends at the UA Kaufman Astoria theater and plans on seeing it a third time with his parents, who are from Sparta.

The movie, which grossed $70 million during its first weekend in release, was directed by Zack Snyder and released by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Lagonikos said he heard stories about the famous battle as a child and his family had a miniature statue of King Leonidas the film's lead character who is portrayed by Gerard Butler.

"We grew up with him in our living room," he said. "He was a hero of mythical proportions. We used to always say, 'Why haven't they ever made a movie about this battle?'"

The Spartan constitution was the first known one of its kind to put power in the hands of its people. It is often considered to be the first functioning democracy.

"The battle is thought by many historians to be the most important in all of civilization," Vallone said. "Had the Persian empire been able to come in and subjugate the birthplace of democracy, the entire history of Western culture might have been changed."

The film's 300 Spartans staved off the advancing Persians in a suicide mission at the mountain pass of Thermopylae while their fellow countrymen gathered forces to prepare for an invasion.

Harry Panagiotopoulos, owner of Astoria's Igloo Ice Cream Cafe, said he had seen the film a second time since the late night Friday screening. He said he liked the film better than the other recent Greek epics, "Troy" and "Alexander."

"It's a big moment for Greek history to have a blockbuster like this," he said. "I'm definitely going to see it one more time or maybe twice."

Physician John Lagonikos, Peter's brother, said his only complaint about the film was that it was not longer than two hours.

"It gave you a good sense of what Spartan life was like how they would train, look after each other and took pride in what they did," he said.

Peter Lagonikos said the film should be a hit in Astoria, which has a large Greek population.

"We definitely had a lot of pride that day," he said of his experience watching the film. "(The Spartans) prevailed against a massive army and were willing to die for their freedom. They were known for their courage, which is why you see a lot of sports teams called the Spartans - to exemplify their spirit."

A UA Kaufman Astoria manager said the film, which is being shown in three auditoriums at the theater, played to a number of sell-out crowds during the weekend.

 


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