Movie #2: 300, (2007), starring Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham, directed by Zack Snyder
Boy oh boy, where do you start with this spectacle of violence?
The movie comes from the source material of Frank Miller’s graphic novel, and I think that stylizing provides ample punch to the amazing visuals put forth by director Zack Snyder (Batman vs. Superman, Man of Steel, Sucker Punch, The Watchmen, Dawn of the Dead) and company.
I’ve always been drawn to movies, books, and stories that dealt with heroes, underdogs, honor, duty, valor, etc. There’s something about those ideals that have always spoken to me. When I found this tidbit about Miller, I totally understood:
When he was a child, Frank Miller saw the Rudolph Maté film The 300 Spartans (1962), with Richard Egan as King Leonidas, and was deeply affected by it. He has explained that the film altered his perception of the ‘Hero’ concept insofar as he came to realize that the hero didn’t always win and that sometimes, to be a hero, one must sacrifice oneself. Ever since he saw the movie, he has been fascinated with Thermopylae.
Thermopylae is where most of our tale is set, in a battle against the Persians, their King Xerxes, and their Immortals. I mentioned in my 80 Days post that I had always had an interest in history and the Civilization games, so when I first watched 300 in 2007, Xerxes and the Persians were well known to me. I had been playing Civ since the 3rd version of the game came out in 2001, and was well-aware of this guy…(he looks a tad different in the movie, obviously. The Persians were lead by Darius I or Cyrus in the next version of the game and then again by Darius I in the latest iteration).
But yes, even in the Civ games, the Greeks and Persians can participate in a little brouhaha.
However, the level of violence and insanely complex fight choreography is downright incredible. The sheer amount of technical work, not to mention that countless hours of rehearsal and weapon’s training, is amazing by itself, and the time put in definitely shows on screen. This movie is a text book when it comes to the fight scenes.
For all the terrific action sequences though, there are slower moments where the narration of actor David Wenham (Faramir from Lord of the Rings) truly carries the storytelling. In the very beginning, one of my first notes was to find out who the narrator was, because the voiceover work seemed top notch. Then all of a sudden, we’re hearing that same voice coming from Wenham’s character Dilios. (While the movie wasn’t recognized by the big award shows, Wenham’s performance was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Film awards, so at least some people enjoyed it as much as I did).
I felt Lena Headey’s turn as Queen Gorgo completely set the tone for her big future role. (Also nominated in the ASFFHF **I totally made that up**awards for Best Supporting Actress). It’s plain to me, that this role 100% influenced her casting as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones. Her best scene is where she delivers her speech to the council, and then comeuppance to Dominic West’s Theron.
One of my favorite images from the movie:
Couple cool notes:
- Young Leonidas (not teenage Leonidas that fights the wolf in the above image) is Eli Snyder, son of director Zack.
- 300 served as feature film debut of one Michael Fassbender as Stelios. He had only acted in television prior.
- The quote, “Then we will fight in the shade,” is an actual one from history, spoken by the Spartan warrior Dienekes when warned about the enemies’ arrows. It is also used by Greeks today as emblems on soldier uniforms.
As much as I find myself saying “am I going to watch this again?”, the answer is undoubtedly a resounding “probably”. 🙂 Does that fly in the face of the purpose of purging a DVD collection? Absolutely. But, for the visuals and fight scenes, not to mention the fantastic music (especially the early choral chanting), make it a DVD I cannot part with.
Verdict: With four out of five stars, it’s a keep.
Next: 500 Days of Summer (will have to wait for Nicolette on that one! Quite the genre change there, too.)