Review: 300 (2007)


Director: Zach Snyder

Starring: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Michael Fassbender, Rodrigo Santoro

Release date: 23rd March 2007 (UK)

Gerard Butler is looking very butch in leather briefs and a red cape in this testosterone fueled fantasy. Zach Snyder has stayed loyal to the original comic book by Frank Miller with a stylized visual adaptation. This is Greek tragedy in its most epic form and a Clash of the Titans spectacle.

King Leonidas (Butler) of Greek city, Sparta, gathers his ‘300’ Spartan soldiers and takes them into battle against mortal turned almighty God, Persian King Xerxes(Santoro) and his huge army. Power and pride are everything.

Through Greek mythology which began in the Bronze Age (before 800 BC) with stories about Gods, Goddesses, Kings, Queens and monsters – came the writings of Greek tragedy. Tragedian writers like Sophocles (Oedipus) and Euripedes (Medea – remember these texts from drama classes) created dramatic events and visceral characterisation in their storytelling. Miller is all Greeky in his novel, presenting a bloody war that is relentlessly graphic in its violence. The slow motion stylized fight sequences (done a lot these days) capture the intensity of the violence without you having to look away. The blood splattering technique is effective in its cause.

Snyder’s vision is influenced by Greek tragedy in theatrics and boldness of storytelling – the film certainly packs a punch in both. Leonidas is both protagonist and antagonist, a man in profound conflict by his duty as a king and the emotional turmoil of leaving his family behind. The monologue speeches are dramatic with each one telling a story. The impassioned Spartans share a brotherly bond that has connotations and their loyalty holds no bounds in serving their King as martyrs in battle. Snyder has gone for very stylized (that word again) cinematography. The resemblance to the comic book imagery certainly feels Greeky and the robust colours are eye catching.

Gerard Butler is perfect as the king. All brooding, bulging muscles and macho with guyliner(in touch with his feminine side, sweet) Lena Headey as the only female holds her own as the Queen and mother to his son. Michael Fassbender with long hair in an early role. David Wenham’s narration is subjective in its view of the plot despite being in the thick of action as a Spartan. Fairplay to Rodrigo Santoro, he got waxed, shaved and poked about for the role as Xerxes – what us guys go through, eh

Hollywood has long been fascinated by Greek mythology. Films like Spartacus and Gladiator raised the bar in powerful historical storytelling,  300 follows in that tradition with gusto. I am Rahimus Galius the Reviewerus – not dramatic enough!

*****

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