You bring the crowns and heads of conquered kings to my city steps. You insult my queen. You threaten my people with slavery and death. Oh, I’ve chosen my words carefully, Persian. Perhaps you should have done the same… This is Sparta. With these words King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) kicked the Persian emissary (Peter Mensah) into the pit and a similar fate befell the members of his entourage.
The hideous emissary holding the crowns and heads of conquered kings was not only to frighten into submission but a symbolic testament to the fate awaiting all those who had the courage to defy the god king, King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) of Persia. This spectacle was an insult to the valour of the Spartan society.
King Xerxes fancied himself as a god with divine powers. He was a towering figure with a distinctive voice. The display of reverence accorded him was unending throughout the movie. 300 is an adaptation of Frank Millers graphic novel which in turn is based on the true story of the Battle of Thermopylae.
The Spartan society was made up of rare breed of men who ignored all distractions and dedicated themselves completely to the art of combat. By the age of seven the boys pass through the agoge educational system which turned them into the perfect fighting machines alien anywhere else except in Sparta.
The murder of Xerxes emissary is in itself undiplomatic, an insult to the god king, and a declaration of war. The fury of King Xerxes will know no bounds. With his vast army, tiny Sparta faces her greatest test under King Leonidas. Annihilation stares great but tiny Sparta in the face if she is unable to defeat and humiliate King Xerxes or at least beat him into retreat.
King Leonidas is prevented from sending the Spartan army into battle by the Oracle. After consulting the oracle, the Ephors forbade him from going to war as they were about to celebrate the moon festival known as the Carneia. He disobeyed the decree and marched out to face King Xerxes with 300 of Spartas finest soldiers claiming that they were his personal bodyguards.
The movie is full of deceit, blackmail and bribery. The Ephors had been corrupted and even Theron (Dominic West), an eminent politician has been corrupted and his conduct unbecoming of a Spartan citizen let alone an eminent one of his status. Elements like these working against the better interest of Sparta made Leonidas task much more difficult.
In spite of the vices, virtues like nationalism, bravery, loyalty among many others abound. It is an emotional movie and it is immaculately directed by Zack Snyder. Screenplay was impeccably done by Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, and Michael B. Gordon. However, in their first encounter, the demeanour of King Leonidas and King Xerxes seemed a bit bizarre for commanders in chief whose armies are fighting to their death.
The narration every now and then was entertaining as well as informative, exposing us to the rich but diverse cultures of Persia and Sparta. The stunts and superior fighting skills though way out of this world are presented in a believable fashion and a fun to watch. The running time is approximately 116 minutes. 300 is a great action movie by all standards and it has many positives and few flaws.