Monday, February 28, 2011

300 - Movie Review

Watched the movie '300' -a violent movie based on a graphic novel. It is about the famous Battle of Thermopylae fought over three intense days of war sometime in 480 B.C., where King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) leads a band of 300 of the best Spartan warriors to counter an immensely strong, a million strong Persian army of the God King Xerxes as the Persian army attempts to conquer Sparta.

The story is narrated by Dillos, one of the Spartan soldiers who is injured in the war and is sent back by Leonidas to tell the Spartan council of what actually happened. The movie begins with a Persian emissary coming to Leonidas with the proposal to surrender to Xerxes. Leonidas says Sparta will never surrender and kicks the emissary into the famed Pit of Death, leading to all out war. But before engaging in war Leonidas has to take the sanction of the Spartan Council and before that, the approval of the Oracle and the high priests of Sparta. they refuse - bribed by the Persians. Leonidas however decides to follow his plan and engage the Persians before they can get to Sparta in a narrow corridor, the only way to Sparta. He goes with a mere 300 men to counter the million strong army - in the corridor 'where numbers don't count'. The Spartans are a proud fighting unit known never to take a backward step, never to surrender and merciless in battle. And they are joined by a few more groups Greeks, Aradians, Thebians, Thespians and others to form a small army (historically the army is put at 4000 - 7000 soldiers with the 300 Spartans in the lead).

And so begins the war against the mighty Persian army and the spirited Spartan warriors who have lived, trained for war and do nothing else. Xerxes, historically, waited for three days before he launched the attack and when asked to lay down their weapons the Spartans are famously believed to have said - 'come and get them' - the words which are engraved under the statue of Leonidas as it stands today at Theropylae. As they counter the army, wave after wave, inflicting massive casualties, Xerxes, his generals offer Leonidas, riches to give up but Leonidas refuses. It comes to a stage when the Persians are almost at their wits end as the 300 soldiers repel almost every single attack - from their arrows, to their Immortals, to bombs, to mystical animals. It is only when a hunchback, a Greek who is rejected by Leonidas to fight the battle on his side, sells himself off to Xerxes that the Persians find a path to circle the narrow gateway and surround the Spartans. Th Queen of Sparta meanwhile gets the Council's attention to the impending war and of Leonidas's great sacrifice for the country, after blackmail, adultery and betrayal of one of the Council members which is finally exposed.

300 is gory, violent with lopped heads flying off, blood spilling out of bodies, arms and legs being chopped off in a battle as fierce as it can get. The war and action is shown well and convincingly and the Spartan warriors do look as if they have trained for war all their lives. I liked the words that King Leonidas says to the hunchback when he rejects him - "the Spartan army source of strength is because it fights as a single unit. Each soldier is responsible to protect the one standing next to him with his shield, from thigh to neck. This is the plalanx formation which cannot be compromised by someone who cannot life his shield high enough.' 300 is great to watch - it must have been awesome on screen - but yes, lots of adult content and enough blood and flesh that will stay with you for while. If you are up to it, must watch.

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