Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fundy Does the Movies: Thermopylae and the 300

Clicking through the free movies on cable
late in the evening is not a good choice.

You can scan the available movies 
over and over when you have oodles of time,
and nothing appeals.

But be dog-tired long past your bedtime,
and something positively irresistible shows up.

Last night that's exactly what happened.
Up came 300.


I missed this film in the theater
when it came out in 2007.

All I could remember 
was that I had wanted to see it 
and that it was an account 
of a battle in ancient Greece.

"Available only through the 25th,"
said my cable service.

I thought it was the 25th.
I bit.

I am paying the bleary-eyed price today, 
the real 25th.

300 hooked me from its eerie, bronzed beginning:
A man holds a naked baby
under a lightning-ripped sky,
above tumbled skulls, 
and against a chorus of thunder and voices.

The narrator, a Spartan soldier, Dilios, speaks: 
When the boy was born, 
like all Spartans,
he was inspected.
If he had been small or puny,
sickly or misshapen,
he would have been discarded.
From the time he could stand,
he was baptized in the fire of combat...

I knew then that 300 would be an unusual movie.
I was not disappointed.


Thermopylae  ~  wikipedia
I can still see the word 
on the pages of my history book
in my final year of high school.

That 300.

The storied 300
and their heroic last stand
against the invading armies 
of Xerxes of Persia.
Certain death in the name of freedom.

Before I recalled the details of the battle,
I was captured by the look of the film,
gritty, surreal, mythic.

Leonidas and Xerxes

Leonidas looked like 
he had stepped out of a painting
on an ancient terracotta amphora.

Achilles and Penthesileia by Exekias 
c. 540 BC, BM. London


At first I laughed at the odd way 
the actors spoke and moved 
against the dreamlike background.

And then I suddenly realized that this film was fantasy.
Not meant to look realistic.
So I sat back to experience the tragic tale
whose ending I already knew.

Even later last night I was online
finding out more about the movie.
It had mixed critical reviews,
but attained a cult following among some fans.

The movie is based on 
a five-part series of comic books
written and illustrated by Frank Miller
with painted colors by Lynn Varley.
These were collected and published 
as a hardcover graphic novel 300

The movie was filmed to replicate
the illustrations in the comic book series.

Film Version Over Comic Panel
Movie 300

The film was shot over a 60-day period
using bluescreens,
where the actors perform against a blue-colored screen
and the background is added to the film 
during post-production.
Of course, 
many special effects were used
to create the feel of the original comic book illustrations.

Filming 300 vs Finished Product

Do you ever watch a movie and see an actor
who reminds you of a character in another movie;
but you can't think of who or in what movie?

Well, Dilios, the voice over narrator of 300,
the Spartan soldier who tells the tale of
Leonides and the Battle of Thermopylae
was one such character.

Who is This Guy?
Not Just Dilios

It was driving me nuts trying to think of who he was;
and it wasn't until the end of the movie
when Dilios is speaking to the Spartan Council
that I realized he was Faramir from The Lord of the Rings.

Faramir, Dilios, Father Damien:  
David Wenham is one versatile actor!

No problem recognizing Queen Gorgo 
as Cersei Lannister though.
I enjoyed Lena Headey's stoic performance.
She portrays strong women well.

Gerard Butler as Leonidas 
and Rodrigo Santoro as Xerxes
compelled me to watch,
hero and villan;
both gave me shivers. 

It took me a while to get into 
the stylized dialogue and movement,
but I kept watching 
because the movie was visually gorgeous 
and unlike anything I had ever seen.
I was fascinated.

I loved its dark, brooding palette
illuminated by blood reds and wheaten gold.

Online I read that many critics 
panned the movie as violent, bombastic, 
and racist with one-dimensional characters.  

I'll grant them violent; 
but as for the rest,
Get Over It!

Sometimes you just have to let go
and go with the flow.

Get over historically inaccurate.
Get over unconventional.
Get over West versus East angst.

It's historical fantasy
It's a graphic novel brought to life.

Take Samuel Taylor Coleridge's suggestion
and suspend your disbelief.
The ride is a lot of fun when you do.

Caveat:  If violence disturbs you,
              then this movie is not for you!

              Personally I find violence difficult to watch,
              but the surreal and stylized images in 300
              made it more dreamlike than real;
              like reading a novel
              with your imagination racing. 


  1. I thought it was a great film, violence and all. And the stylized filming was so unique at the time. It's been used in other movies but not with the same effect.

    1. Yes! I thought it was great too, Alex! I haven't seen more films done like this, because I usually don't watch this type of movie. Now I know that I need to broaden my movie watching choices. I want to explore some of the movies featured on your blog. In some ways 300 was like the first Jurassic Park movie ~ when the audiences first saw those lifelike dinosaurs on the screen, unlike any seen before, the stunning impact blew them away. Later movies could never match that first awe. Have a good one!

  2. I liked it too. The plot was a bit incoherent but you can't beat the visuals. "300" was also the film debut of Michael Fassbender who played the Spartan soldier Stelios.

    1. Hey Debra! Who in Hollywood worries about an incoherent plot??? LOL I should have mentioned Michael Fassbender too ~ Oh the sexist things I could say! But I was up way too late and just needed to get it done! Have a good one!

  3. I never really noticed until recently that the Spartan Queen is the woman who plays Queen Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones

    1. Hey, Adam! You inspired me to do a movie post on something outside my comfort zone! Thank you! Hope all is well with you and Daisy!

  4. I am probably in the minority here but I have never seen this film. :)

    1. LOL ~ I'm predicting that you might not enjoy it, given you're a HSP! Just a cautionary note, but some of the visuals might be hard on your eyes! I hope you''re having a lovely day, my Montreal friend!

  5. It was a really good movie, I enjoyed it. Whiny critics can just bite me haha it was a unique way of filming too.

    1. They can bite me too, Pat! I often disagree with critics! Have a good one!

  6. I loved it...and have seen it about 3 times ...hardly ever watch a film more than once...although Sense8 on Netflix is one..I have watched it 2 times and thinking of watching it again..find something I missed each time.

    1. Hey, Jackiesue! I'll have to check out Sense8, although we don't have Netflix yet! One of the few I'm sure! Have a great day!

  7. A very good review, Louise. I remember when it came out and thought it may be interesting.
    However, violence and I do not mix well. So will probably not see this.

    1. Thanks, Jim! Some people would find the violence in 300 distressing; that's why I added the caveat. I bet you'd enjoy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (and it's sequel). It's the funniest English comedy set in India. It's upbeat, colorful, and full of humor ~ it's about a group of elderly British pensioners retiring to a dilapidated hotel in India. We recently watched them and loved them. Have a good one, my friend!

  8. I've seen this together with hubby! I believe we actually saw it in the theater (if my memory serves me right). It was very good but we did chuckle at Gerard Butler's accent (Scottish ?), which seemed kind of silly for a Greek King. And we also had a good laugh at the hairless chests! As a descendant of Greeks, I can tell you that it's difficult to find a Greek man without hair on his chest. And A LOT of hair at that :) So I enjoyed it but was also quite entertained by a few things :)

    1. I wish I had seen it in the theater, Martha! I'm sure it was visually spectacular on the big screen. I did laugh at all the hairless chests! Also all the toned, pumped bodies ~ I guess the main actors had a grueling workout regime leading up to acting in the film. Have a great day!

  9. Replies
    1. Thank you for visiting and leaving a kind comment, DZ!

  10. Hi Fundy!
    I can only agree with you, violent yes, too much focus on battle scenes, as for the rest, who cares about sticking to the story, no one really knows anyway with precision how happened then. So seen as fiction, no problem for me! I loved it!!!
    Keep well and enjoy what's left of your week :)

    1. Happy Thursday, Noushka! I have always believed that story is story, an alternate reality, and I love to immerse myself in other realities. Just let go! But the story has to be good and have heart. This film certain did. As for too much focus on battle scenes ~ well that's just so male!!! LOL This was definitely not a chick flick! Have a good one!!!


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