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Image driven film

Category: 300 Reviews
Article Date: March 23, 2007 | Publication: Screen (India) | Author: Piroj Wadia
Source: http://www.screenindia.com/fullstory.php?content_id=15226

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Frank Miller was inspired by the original Battle of Thermopylae after viewing the 1962 film The 300 Spartansas a child. His perception of the concept of hero and heroism changed greatly after seeing the Spartans make their sacrifice. Later as a graphic novelist he couldn't stay away from this epic Spartan tale. Director Zack Snyder chose to render a 21st century version account of the barbaric Battle of Thermopylae and base it on Frank Miller's work. The resultant 300 is stylish, though gory and explicit. When Gladiator was released, it was considered the last word in epic battle and action sequences, but Zack Snyder's '300' topples it from the position.

As Sparta is threatened by subjugation of the Persian king Xerxes, the Spartan king Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and his band of 300 soldiers went toe-to-toe with Persia's massive armies in 480 B.C. Pigeonholing his enemies into a constricted and controllable mountain passage, Leonidas and his company staged a brave front against escalating forces for three days. Their courageous stand bought limited time for Leonidas' wife, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey), who fought to overcome political opposition in Sparta and assemble a properly armed resistance. Grand battles are usually shot with disorienting speed, producing sequences of chaos. Often, it's impossible to tell in a battle who is hitting whom. Snyder opts for long, unbroken shots of choreographed carnage. His slow-motion approach showcases the fighting technique of the soldiers, and gives us ample time to drink in the stunning visuals, though gory, that complement the conflict. '300' delivers more than relentless, bone-crunching violence. Snyder takes time to explain Sparta's core beliefs as he illustrates the legendary grooming of Leonidas, trained from birth to be the victor. He also takes a lingering sequence of Leonidas' meeting with Oracle who is guarded by a bunch of grotesque men.

Gerard Butler as the driving force of '300', projects the intense Leonidas as a leader at the crossroads of undaunted loyalty. In a brief but pertinent role, Dominic West ably plays the power grabbing Theron. The fly in the ointment is Persian emperor Xerxes the Great played effectively by Rodrigo Santoro but misrepresented as a glam queen. What has Hollywood got against the Persian kings? In Alexander Oliver Stone caricatured Darius and now Snyder does the same with Xerxes.

Zack Snyder's 300 is a blend of swift pace and stylishly stunning visuals thanks to brilliantly striking cinematography . The latter is the key to the film than the star cast, for 300is an image driven film.

 


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