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Hoo-Ah! Again.

Category: 300 News
Article Date: April 9, 2007 | Publication: Aerynsunx's Journal (Blog) | Author: Aeryn
Source: Aerynsunx's Journal

Posted by: DaisyMay

To date, I've seen the movie "300" twice. I will probably see it again before it's gone from theatres. When I went to see it the first time, the movie wasn't even 10 minutes old, the principle players weren't even onscreen yet, when I realized I loved this movie and nothing in heaven or hell could change my mind. I had to see the movie after "Rome" ended because I couldn't get enough of men w/swords and sandals. Heh!

I wasn't aware how much narration was in the film before seeing it. And all the narration is done by David Wenham, the Spartan's Storyteller. His narration starts the movie and ends it. The first thing I was struck by was how much David Wenham reminded me of a younger Sean Bean! Peter Jackson was so right to cast him as Faramir in LOTR. The movie is intense. Visually, it is stunningly beautiful. That may seem a contradiction, to say this about a movie that has one brutal battle after another. But it is. The director, Zack Snyder, did say he wanted a "ballet of death". He made it happen. From the first commercials and trailers I saw, I knew this movie was unlike anything I'd ever seen. I have to say a word about the trailers here. The trailers are so well done, the music (NIN) is so perfectly matched, that I found the trailers (from teasers to full length) positively mesmerizing. I should know. I watched them constantly on YouTube. I still had my doubts about whether I'd like "300" going in, but obviously they've been put to rest. You know how it is (Great trailer. Can't wait to see it. Disappointing movie. Lost money and time you can't get back). I also realized the second time around that I missed much of the humor. I guess I was so into the movie the first time that it passed me by. Dunno why because it's so obvious. I'd estimate that half of what King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) says is said in jest. I was also not prepared for the appearance of King Xerxes. He towers over Leonidas. Over everyone! Emphasizing the image of God-King. I believe that the grotesque imagery of some of the characters is meant to emphasize how "monstrous" the Spartans enemies are to the Greeks, as it is told by the Storyteller. "They are not like us.", in other words.

It begins with the story of one Spartan child, as told by the Storyteller. A baby boy deemed fit and spared the pit of death. Taken away for the agoge at the age of seven, the boy learns to fight to survive. He survives to become a man. And not just any man, but a King. It's King Leonidas' story. A King for many decades until the steps of his nation is darkended by an outside force, threatening enslavement or extinction, if the "offer" of surrender and submission isn't accepted. "Madness? This is Sparta!" (Note: I've seen Gerard Butler in absolutely nothing before this movie. But somehow, as an actor, I don't think he knows the meaning of "tone it down a notch." LOL That's an observation, not a criticism. I think he does a fine job and is perfectly cast as King Leonidas.) The "wise elders" forbid the King from marching his army to repel the invasion. He has no choice but to respect their judgement. In fact, the "wise elders" have been paid off by the Persians. He reflects on what he must do with his Queen (the beautiful Lena Headey). She exhorts him to do what is right in the name of their freedom. He chooses to defend his kingdom. Barred from marching his army because of religious observances to fight the invading Persians, he chooses his finest 300 warriors, and leads them himself to the "Hot Gates". Known as Thermopylae. He says goodbye to his family and his Queen the only way a Spartan can. Without sentiment and fanfare. His Queen sends him off the only way a Spartan woman can. That he come back with his shield. Or on it. We do not see as much of the Spartan Queen, Gorgo, as we see of the King. But there is no question she is his match in terms of loyalty, honor and dignity. She decides on her own she will do whatever she can to help her husband get the army he needs. Otherwise, they are all certain to die. With an additional thousand+ Greeks, the 300 set out for the "Hot Gates". They are prepared to fight. They are prepared to die a "beautiful death". "This is where we stand. This is where we fight. This is where they die.", shouts the King as he rallies his men. ( "Give them nothing. But take from them everything!", is sure to become the rallying cry of many a sports team.) And fight they do. Wave after wave of Persian infantry. The Spartans hold. Waves of Persian horsemen. The Spartans hold. The pile of dead Persians rises at their feet. The Immortals come. The Immortals die. The Spartans hold. Raging beasts are set on them. Even the beasts die. Persian arrows do indeed blot out the sun. And when it is over, the Spartans are still standing. Persian King Xerxes himself offers King Leonidas a vast kingdom to rule over. All he has to do is allow himself to be ruled by Xerxes. Leonidas refuses without a second thought. He tells Xerxes that he does not understand the difference between them. King Xerxes will send men to die for him. King Leonidas will die for his men. And he will die if he must, to preserve his people. He promises Xerxes only, that before the end, a God-King will bleed. In the meantime, the Queen has arranged to appear before the council to plead for aid to the 300. But first, she must win over councillor Theron. Or there is no hope for her to sway the councillors.

The 300 continue to battle. They fight on. Battling "wizardry" and cunning soldiers. The 300 take casualties. Some deaths harder to take than others. Meanwhile, they are betrayed. A misshapened hunchback, rejected as a soldier by Leonidas, has betrayed them to Xerxes in exchange for the God-King's offer of treasures. He shows Xerxes men the goats path behind the "Hot Gates". The 300 are undone. The other Greeks abandon the Spartans. King Leonidas sends his Storyteller away with them. "Remember us", he tells him. "Tell our story." Reluctantly, the Storyteller leaves behind his brothers, knowing he'll never see them alive again. He takes the King's token to return to his Queen with him. King Leonidas rallies his soldiers for one last chance at glory. The Queen seeks the help of Theron. He will help her. If she offers him her body. "You will not enjoy this.", he gloats over the Queen. She gives him what he wants. Then the Queen appears before the council. Her words, strong and loyal, appear to sway the councillors to her husband's side. Theron, seeing his hold over the council challenged, accuses the Queen of adultery. That she easily gave herself to Theron, among other men. Theron demands that the now disgusted and angry Queen be removed. Before she is taken, the Queen takes a knife and kills him. And in doing so, reveals him as a traitor to Sparta who has taken Persian money. The 300 will have their support. But it is too late. Now surrounded, the last of the 300 with him, Leonidas is asked to surrender to Xerxes. Before addressing Xerxes, he offers the hunchback a Spartan curse, "May you live forever." He appears to surrender and kneel. But it is a ruse. In fact, Leonidas readies himself for one last throw of his spear. In doing so, he makes the God-King bleed, as he had promised. Knowing he's about to die, Leonidas remembers his Queen, his love. And for the last time, the arrows of the Persians fall. The Storyteller, Dilios, returns to Sparta. He delivers the King's token to the Queen and the news of the fate of the 300. One year later, he tells his story again. This time to rally an army of 10,000 Spartans and 30,000 Greeks against the Persian army. The Greeks are outnumbered 3 to 1. Pity the Persians.

At my job, there is a diner located in the building. It's run by a Greek family. Yes, it seems stereotypical. But it's also true. (In fact, there are two separate diners in my neighborhood run by Greek families.) Anyways, it turns out they are from Sparta. I've taken to calling the younger brother, Sparta. He doesn't mind. But his name is Peter. He told me there is a stone and plaque at the site of the Battle of Thermopylae dedicated to the 300 Spartans and Greeks who fought and died there. He also told me that the pit, where they threw the "defective" babies, is still there, too. At this I said, "Oh." Then I thought, "Ohhhhh." As in, "That's unsettling and unhappy to think about." Right now, I feel hard-pressed to judge their society when just two days ago, a woman put her newborn baby in a plastic bag and left her to die out on a porch. At this moment, I have to say their society was what is was, and ours is what it is. No, that won't do. I have to say our society is far more merciful. But do we value personal honor also? We don't need to be maniacal about it as they were. But do we have any sense of honor? Everytime another reality show debuts, I believe whatever honor our society has erodes away a little more. IMHO, we can borrow a touch of their respect for personal honor to restore what I think is our tarnished value system. I say this in regards to our leaders who we've chosen to represent us. They won't get any better until we expect better from ourselves, and therefore our leaders. Personal honor is a good measuring stick to go by. That's just my 300 cents, anyway.

God! My recap of the film is longer than the movie :O


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