The 300 Spartans (1962)
Narrator: Across the hush of 24 centuries, this is the story of a turning point in history, of a blazing day when 300 Greek warriors fought here to hold with their lives their freedom and ours.
Xerxes, Persian King: It was my father's dream. One world, one master. But to Marathon ten years ago he sent a mere wave. I am leading an ocean!
Themistocles of Athens: The whole of Asia is descending upon us. Many times more men than there are Greeks. These men are fierce, savage, bloodthirsty, merciless. But that is not the reason why we should fear them. That is not the source of their power. Their power lies in their unity. Unity! Remember that one terrible word which will surely destroy Greece, unless we counter it with a unity of our own. A unity of free men fighting together resisting this united tide of tyranny.
Leonidas, Spartan King: A Spartan king cannot act without the authority of his people. But I know my people, and I know they will fight.
Themistocles of Athens: Will they lead all others?
Leonidas, Spartan King: Sparta will fight, whether others will follow or not.
Leonidas, Spartan King: The council must act quickly
Leonidas, Spartan King: In order that we Spartans may reach the first line of defense in time.
Xenathon, Spartan Isolationist: And where might that be?
Leonidas, Spartan King: The Pass of Thermopylae.
Xenathon, Spartan Isolationist: Thermopylae, of course. That's the pass that protects Athens.
Leonidas, Spartan King: No! It's the pass that protects GREECE! Mere cities don't matter now. It is Greece that counts! Only by being united can we hope to avoid slavery. Now, I am no politician, but I will plead this cause with you until the moon wanes and the night brings forth a new day!
Themistocles of Athens: Truth is a heady wine. A politician must never exaggerate people's capacity for it.
Leonidas, Spartan King: Spartans! We have reached Thermopylae. The orders are: From this wall, we do not retreat!
Pentheus, Leonidas' Second in Command: He saved my life, Leonidas.
Leonidas, Spartan King: I know that. He also disobeyed orders.
Leonidas, Spartan King: In wartime, the punishment is death. You know that Phylon.
Phylon, son of Grellas: Yes.
Leonidas, Spartan King: So death it will be.
Leonidas, Spartan King: Get him his armor and a red cloak. That's the only way for Spartans to die these days.
Demaratus, Exiled Spartan King: The Spartans will certainly fight, whether reinforcements arrive or not.
Xerxes, Persian King: Why, they are mad. I cannot think why you would want to be king of such an extraordinary people, Demaratus. I shall capture them alive and put them in cages and exhibit them all over Persia.
Hydarnes, Commander of the Immortals: [Xerxes has sent an emissary to demand the Spartan surrender] yesterday, we only probed your positions. When we attack today, our arrows will blot out the sun!
Leonidas, Spartan King: Good; then we will fight in the shade.
Hydarnes, Commander of the Immortals: Leonidas; you cannot win this fight.
Leonidas, Spartan King: Every day we stand is another day for Greece.
[Starts to walk off]
Hydarnes, Commander of the Immortals: Leonidas, wait! Xerxes says that if you and your men lay down your arms, he will allow you to leave peaceably.
Leonidas, Spartan King: [In Greek] Come and take them!
Agathon the Spartan Spy: Leonidas! The barbarians have sent an emissary to talk with you. It is Hydarnes himself.
Leonidas, Spartan King: Hydarnes? Good, get me a clean cloak.
Agathon the Spartan Spy: How many men do you want for an escort?
Leonidas, Spartan King: [Scornfully] When has a Spartan king needed an escort to talk to a mere Persian?
Gorgo, Leonidas' Wife: In the absence of your dead mother, I present you this shield and say to you
[speaking in Greek]
Gorgo, Leonidas' Wife: 'Return with the shield or on it'.
Woman at Shield Ceremony: What does that mean?
Ellas, Leonidas' Niece: Either return carrying this shield in victory or carried on the shield in death.
Leonidas, Spartan King: Why were you not in council?
Agathon the Spartan Spy: Because I'm not a good liar. I don't want to frighten them.
Leonidas, Spartan King: Then the army is as enormous as they say?
Agathon the Spartan Spy: Leonidas, it is bigger than anything you can imagine. For six days, I watched them pass. Six days! I ran out of numbers and still more of them came. They're drinking the rivers dry. And at night there are more of their campfires than there are stars in the sky!
Leonidas, Spartan King: Good. When I was a boy, I always wanted to reach the stars with my spear.
Narrator: "Oh, Stranger, tell the Spartans that we lie here obedient to their word." This last message of the fallen heroes rallied Greece to victory, first at Salamis, as predicted, and then at Plataea. But it was more than a victory for Greece. It was a stirring example to free people throughout the world of what a few brave men can accomplish once they refuse to submit to tyranny.