Beautiful to behold, but ugly in nature. Epic in proportions, of struggle of a few. Brutal in its depiction, yet delicate in its presentation. Ancient in setting, but current a subject matter.
Before viewing this film, I have put myself on an embargo on all information regarding this movie, preferring to know as little of the movie as possible. I spied on trailers but quickly look away, not wanting to know every little morsel of goodness that might come out of this movie. It involves a small contingent of Spartans, 300 of them, against an army far outnumbering them in the hundreds of thousands, that far I know.
From the get go, the audience is introduced to the Spartans, a proud race of warriors in ancient Greek. The boys of Sparta are trained to fight from their early childhood, creating, in effect, a military state in ancient Greek.
Scottish born Gerard Butler played King Leonidas, the King of Sparta, a character portrayed as a gruff, battle hardened warrior king. A proud Spartan, that some might consider… well… a bit mad. Mad because he provoked Xerxes, played by Rodrigo Santoro, by throwing Xerxes’ envoys into a bottomless pit. Envoys bearing the severed heads of other rulers of the Greek’s states and demanded Leonidas to ‘submit’ his people under Xerxes’ rule.
Thus began Leonidas’ march towards the coast, meeting the force assembled from all four corners of Xerxes’ rule, with 300 of his finely, finely sculpted men, whose sole occupation was war. Along the way, they see what the Persians can do to the Greek civilians, that the Spartans become more determined to defeat their foe. Joined by their one time enemy, the Thebans, now both groups march together to defeat a common foe.
The combat disciplined Spartans are no match for the first few waves of the attacking Persians, as there were much slash and gore played out in slow motion, the Persians clearly outclassed. They were no match for even the Thebans, as they could only watch as the Spartans make mince meat of the marauders.
The more the Persians throw at them, the more the Spartans relish the challenge, which consider dying a beautiful death in battle as the most satisfying death. Even after Xerxes unleash his hideous monsters plucked from all over his empire, the Spartans stood ground to defend their position, still disciplined and determined as before.
But, ultimately, what led to Leonidas’ men’s demise is betrayal. Betrayal by the council back at Sparta, and betrayal by one of his citizens which he considered unfit to join the elite 300.
A beautiful movie, which some say a true rendition of Frank Miller’s graphic novel, even much more so than Sin City ever was. The film noir, the grain, the stylings of the action, the emotion, all of it contributed to the graphic novel look. Even if you’re not thinking of watching this movie, I suggest that you do. The first movie event of 2007. 9 out of 10.