300: “Spartans! Enjoy your breakfast, for tonight we dine in Hell!”
Okay, first of all, everyone who saw this and gave it a bad review needs to see it again and actually pay attention. Take the cotton batting out of your ears, clean your eyeglasses, turn off your goddamn cell phone and actually pay attention, because you’d have to be deaf and fucking blind not to understand what’s going on.
We’re introduced to Sparta through the eyes of a young boy, no younger than 7 and no older than 10. As we follow him through the introduction, he gets older, always explaining the ways of Spartan life and the importance of being always battle-ready. We are told first and foremost that to a Spartan male there is nothing more important and no honor greater than dying in battle to defend Sparta.
As well, it does help you if you already know anything about the Spartan people. People use the word Spartan these days to describe something “simple” or “prepared” or even “combatative.” That’s because the Spartans did not live in excess. They owned only what they needed and were raised always to be battle ready. Their women were not subdued or submissive (though they did not have equal rights they were not recieved or treated like slaves). Spartan women were taught to read, write and engage in combat, were encouraged to own businesses and property and were relied on often to deal with the finances of their families because so often the men were in training or in battle. As well, the Helots were the slave class to the Spartans, so most of the work that other cultures delegated to their women were given to the Helots instead. Not all Greek women were as outspoken as the Spartans were. Spartan women were uniquely outspoken for the time. They considered themselves to be the only women allowed to speak to a man direspectfully because “Only Spartan women give birth to real men.” They truly believed that. In Sparta the only people who received a grave stone upon death were soldiers who died in battle and women who died in childbirth.
The movie follows this young boy into his adulthood where we see him beginning to train his own son in battlereadiness. We learn very soon after that, that the boy we first saw is Leonidus, the King of Sparta.
Here also begins the “epic love story.” Not to say that it was unimportant, because it was quite important, as with Spartan way of life, the concept of an honorable death in battle was much more important, so the battle scenes were and will always be more important to the story, so the love story was not elaborated on in such excess that it became a cause for battle. The point and most important part of the movie was seeing the strength of character we witness of Leonidus in the film.
After the introduction and character building of Leonidus’ wife, Queen Gorgo, we are quickly introduced to the first men of Persia. They come to Sparta to offer what they consider to be peace “Earth and Water”. What that really means is that they are offering Sparta an opportunity for peace if they submit to Persia as their rulers. The Persian King, Xerxes, and his people, consider him to be a God, and therefore ruler of all the world. The intent was to have Sparta submit to the rule of Xerxes and in return they would recieve a declaration of peace.
Leonidus knew better of this submission, and that Persia intended to enslave their entire country under their rule. So he defies the council of Sparta’s Gods and leads 300 of his best men into battle. He leads them into the Hot Gates of Greece in Thermopylae, so that the millions of men that made up Persia’s army (the Persians and other armies from across Asia) could not pass into Sparta without coming across Leonidus’ small army, where they will be engaged in battle and killed (essentially bottlenecking and killing off the men one by one).
Of course, battle ensues, Leonidus and Gorgo are separated by battle and while the battle is going on, there are politics in Sparta that Gorgo must delegate to her own council and handle on her own. Leonidus is strongly driven into battle to defend Sparta, not only because he is a great and loyal leader, but because Sparta is his home, the kingdom is his home, and he has a family he would protect with his life. We are explained that all 300 men in Leonidus’ army are completely loyal to one another, that they work most effectively as a singular unit (PHALANX FORMATION). We see that no one man is expendable. The only army member that Leonidus puts in direct danger at any time is himself, during a ceasefire at sundown because to kill him for any reason at this time would be considered an assasination and a declaration of war against Greece as a whole, giving Sparta the authority to officially declare war on Persia.
The film was beautifully shot. We were not spared, visually. We see deformed men, rape, transsexualism, lesbianism, graphic sex, graphic nudity and gory, graphic violence. This film, aside from the CG blood, was visually as real as it gets. The colors were intense (the red of the blood and of the red cloaks worn by the Spartan army were especially bold). The film was colored to not defy the graphic novel, Frank Miller’s visual stylings were very clearly showcased. My favorite scene, visually, was the scene with the council, watching the vessel recieve her commands from the Gods. The score was moving, exciting, effective and emotional. I generally consider battle movies to be reserved for guys, but this movie blew me away. The acting was seamless, and Gerard Butler should easily earn an Oscar for his performance in this film.
The American people could learn a thing or two about REAL battle and REAL patriotism from this film. I rank this film on the same level with V For Vendetta, and easily knocks Gladiator and Braveheart out of the running without breaking a sweat. This movie was simply incredible.
The only unrealistic thing about the film is that the Spartans fight with only a shield and helmet as armor in battle. This is actually not true of the Spartans at all. What made them effective was the two weapons they had (a spear and a variation of longsword), their phalanx formation and 60 pounds of armor plating in addition to the shield and helmet.
What we are not shown in the film is the true aftermath of the Spartan clash with Persia. Sparta led the entire Greek army to battle in Plataea in 479 BC and defeated the Persian army. War continued between Greece and Persia for 30 more years before Persia was conquered by Alexander The Great. Sparta was however eventually destroyed in 396 AD by the Alaric and in the 9th Century AD the Slavs invaded and the Spartan people migrated to Mani.
If you go to see this, keep remembering that sacrifice for the name of a victorious battle is paramount to everything to the Spartans. Particularly with Gorgo, the battle is everything, victory is everything. So do not be quick to judge some of the things that happen in this movie without the understanding of the importance that battle had to the Spartans.
10/10. I wish that more than 100% was actually possible on the traditional rating system. This could quite likely be the best movie I will see all year.
The only thing that damaged my ability to fully enjoy the theatre experience was the constant giggling during Gerard Butler’s nude scenes. People, grow the fuck up. You all have an ass. If it looks so funny, look at it more often.