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In the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC an alliance of Greek city-states fought the invading Persian army in the mountain pass of Thermopylae. Vastly outnumbered, the Greeks held back the enemy in one of the most famous last stands of history. Persian King Xerxes lead a Army of well over 100,000 (Persian king Xerxes before war has about 170,000 army) men to Greece and was confronted by 300 Spartans, and several hundred Arcadians. Xerxes waited for 10 days for King Leonidas to surrender or withdraw left with no options he moved. The battle lasted for about 3 days and after which all 300 Spartans were killed. The Spartan defeat was not the one expected, as a local shepherd, named Ephialtes, defected to the Persians and informed Xerxes of a separate path through Thermopylae, which the Persians could use to outflank the Greeks. Written by
The key of Zack Zinder's epic style of film was to take the action event and turn it into a mythology He wanted to get to the essence of the Spartans, and to show us the story of a handful of soldiers willing to risk all for a larger western concept of freedom and liberty
"300" is an interpretation of a complex historical event, the collision of cultures that continues to this day Spartan warriors and Persian soldiers were probably the most extreme cultures of that moment
They were interesting elements of truth in Zinder's movie: The Spartans were not like the Athenians They lived under more barbaric rules Every Spartan was a soldier They fight as a specialized unit ("That's the source of our strength!"). Once they get this right group of iron, brass and muscles they become almost undefeatable ("Today no Spartans die!").
If you're a Spartan citizen you're a soldier ("Spartans! What is your profession?"), you're a pure warrior struggling for justice and for what you believe is true The Spartans remain a mystery to everybody They were, probably, unique Till the day of the clash, they have never met an adversary who could offer them what they call 'a beautiful death.' They only were hoping with all the massive army gathered against them, there might be one down there who's up to the task ("Spartans! Ready your breakfast and eat hearty... For tonight, we dine in hell!").
Both the Spartans and Samurai warriors were comparably fierce and passionate ("No prisoners! No mercy!")... They were raging soldiers ("Give them nothing but take from them everything!") But at the same time they had an absolute code of honor on the essence of being a Spartan And it's cruel, very cruel When a boy was born, he was inspected If he's been sick or deformed, the child is murdered From the time he could stand, he was taught not to retreat, never to surrender He was taught that death on the battlefield in service to Sparta was the greatest glory he could achieve in his life At the age of seven, all the boys were taken away from their mothers and plunged into a world of violence, turning them into growing men, ultimate warriors the world has ever known
King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) was a legendary hero, somebody special His name was the descendant of lions He was very powerful, very thoughtful and perhaps in the film far more human than he is even in the graphic novel... Leonidas was a practical man whose life is matched by a straight road to one gleaming moment in destiny and that day, he couldn't meekly swallow the insult of Sparta's submission to the world of Xerxes "This is Sparta!," as he shouted to Xerxes' emissary, affirming that there is no softness, no place for weakness, and only the hard and strong may call themselves Spartans
What I loved about Leonidas was his needs, in his moment of indecision, of a back-up, maybe a second opinion, some assurance of his wife Queen Gorgo So we see him, both times, looking to his wife
Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) was a great character not only in the film but in history She was sexy and beautiful and above all tough and aggressive There was intensity, elegance and ability in her Also a kind of femininity in her nobility... There's only one moment when she loses it at the end and it was not a breakdown
We know lot of Queen Gorgo thanks to Herodotus, the father of the history, who chooses to write about her which clearly demonstrate she was significant Spartan women were special anyway, they were incredibly beautiful and Sparta was the land of beautiful women They were beautiful because they were physically fit, because they were allowed to exercise They were not repressed and were considered incredibly potent Gorgo could speak among men because as she affirmed it before the Persian emissary: "Only Spartan women give birth to real men!"
Gorgo's one love scene with Leonidas and the dialogue beforehand, was powerful: "It is not a question of what a Spartan citizen SHOULD do nor a husband, nor a king. Instead ask yourself, my dearest love, what should a free man do?"
Brutally violent and completely faithful to Miller's work, Zinder's "300" is inspiring, brave, and bloody artistic film
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