300 (movie)

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Published on: 2007.03.19

This movie probably isn’t your type, if you don’t already know something about it. 300 is Zack Snyder‘s take on the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. Made for $65 million, this film has already recouped its costs and is on the way to making tons of money. It was the third-highest opening weekend for an R-rated movie. And there are good reasons for this.

There aren’t any huge names in the credits for this one, other than Frank Miller, who wrote the comic book on which the movie was based. Actors include Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West and David Wenham.

The actual Battle of Thermopylae, in history, featured an alliance of Greek city-states fighting off the invading Persian armies at the pass of Thermopylae in central Greece. One of history’s famous last stands, the three-day struggle gave Athens the time it needed to prepare for the naval battle that would prove decisive in the war’s outcome. By the end of the war, the Greeks had shut down the attempted Persion expansion into Europe. Without this battle, history as we know it probably would have been much different. (See the Wikipedia article for a relatively thorough account.)

Film-wise, this movie was excellent. Though it was shot mostly against a blue-screen to duplicate the comic book’s imagery, much of the scenery appears to be real.

Director Zack Snyder claims that the movie is 90 percent historically accurate, but maintains that it’s meant to be an “opera,” not a documentary. On the other hand, some modern historians have pointed out a few flaws with the story.

To me, most of that is irrelevant. If I want a history lesson (and I often do), I’ll read about it in history (and I did). But I went to the theater to be entertained, and this movie was 100 percent accurate in that department. Amazing action scenes, wonderful stories of love and heroism, and fantastical monsters and creatures filled this movie from beginning to end.

When the last stand came, I as a viewer felt the intrinsic need to stand with the Spartans. The film inspires that kind of feeling in a viewer.

On the other hand it is incredibly, mind-blowingly violent. But I challenge anyone to tell me that it was more violent than the events must have actually been on that day in 480 B.C. The violence was entirely appropriate for this movie, just as it was for Saving Private Ryan.

There was nudity, too, which was the other reason for the R-rating. But again, the two instances of female nudity that I remember from the film were also entirely warranted. One was during the oracle reading at the Greek temple, which was most likely the kind of thing that actually went on in those days. Another was during an intimate midnight conversation between a husband and wife, which also seemed realistic to me, rather than gratuitous.

Language-wise, I don’t remember a single use of a “profane” word (though I personally don’t believe words themselves can be “bad” or “good.”). The movie seemed to get its point across without offending our ears.

In the theater, there were parents with small children, and I can only hope that those children fell asleep quickly. I wouldn’t recommend this, but of course — you’re the parent; I’m not.

Read up on this one, and get out to see it if at all possible.

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