Movie of the Day – 300
April 4, 2012 Leave a comment
HOO-RAH! Swords, Shields, Armies, Persians, Spartans, Shirtless Men, Arrows, MICHAEL FASSBENDER and his other weapon. I am all hopped up on adrenaline and historically inaccurate story telling, but since this came straight from the devious mind of Zack Snyder and the graphic novel from Frank Miller, this is the way history needs to be told. I mean history should be told through a crushed, color palette, ridiculous villains and all the chest thumping one can take in a movie about the story of 300 Spartans fending off a Persian army.
Gerard Butler stars as Spartan King Leonidas and Lena Headey plays Queen Gorgo. The massive army of the Persian Empire is sweeping across the globe, crushing every force that dares stand in its path. When a Persian envoy arrives in Sparta offering King Leonidas power over all of Greece if he will only bow to the will of the all powerful Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), the strong-willed leader assembles a small army comprised of his empire’s best fighters and marches off to battle. Though they have virtually no hope of defeating Xerxes’ intimidating battalion, Leonidas’ men soldier on, intent on letting it be known they will bow to no man but their king. When King Leonidas and his 300 Spartan warriors fell to the overwhelming Persian army at the Battle of Thermopylae, the fearless actions of the noble fighters inspired all of Greece to stand up against their Persian enemy and wage the battle that would ultimately give birth to the modern concept of democracy. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
300 is one of my favorite graphic novels, mainly because the message and art that is present from Miller’s efforts. While the film is usually taken at face value for being this pure action film for men, there is a little something for the ladies as you get to ogle shirtless men who probably don’t look like your significant other. That is one thing just for you ladies and even guys can enjoy, but for me, it’s all about capturing the essence of the story and art from novel to screen. From a visual aspect, the film is gorgeous. While heavily edited and digitally altered, Snyder was able to bring to life the two dimensional pages of monochromatic color palettes and artistic set pieces to the big screen. It is distinctive in it’s look, which sets it apart from other films in the genre, but also has a frantic and kinetic feel to it. The raw energy of the speeches, the spear throwing and battle charges all have a bit of weight to the movie and that certainly helps.
While I could go on about the visual styles of the film and battles, I want to actually applaud the film for managing to tell and interesting hero’s journey. Leonidas is the pinnacle of the male hero archetype, a brash and stoic King that commands the respect of his peers and the soldiers who will follow him into the maw of death itself. He is strong, skilled and fearless, embodying the essence of what his society deems to be the gold standard of heroism. It is the hallmark traits of the hero we all come to know, but the film and story shows us a side of being a hero that isn’t shown often in film. While leading people into battle and coming out a victor is the norm, Leonidas takes his position as King and warrior to the point of sacrifice. To die for your peers and country is something that is pumped up a lot in the film, almost cryptic in its message. It is something that Leonidas is resigned to experiencing in his life and when the time comes he doesn’t flinch. He embraces what is needed to ensure the safety and continuation of life, while inspiring his soldiers to do the same.
It’s a character story, while the story itself is short and straightforward, that manages to make a compelling narrative connection to our understanding as to what it means to be a hero. The men in the 300 and the King himself gave their lives to ensure that their efforts would be used as a catalyst to get others to rally against the invading army. Their sacrifice is documented in the sort of Redbull induced haze of action and plenty of slow motion and fast editing action that happens in the film. The action is fantastic, with several images just lifted from the pages of the novel and it shows that there was a lot of care that went into this film. For me, it might be a bit more bro-ish than others care for, but through it all, it’s a good character story and inspiring. Sure the quotes and dialogue isn’t anything special, more so it seems like it is a live action wrestling match taking place, but it is a total immersion experience from the visuals to the action and sound.
*images via RottenTomatoes