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300 (film)

300
Theatrical release poster of 300
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Zack Snyder
Screenplay by
Based on 300 
by Frank Miller
Lynn Varley
Starring
Music by Tyler Bates
Cinematography Larry Fong
Edited by William Hoy
Production
company
Legendary Pictures
Virtual Studios
Atmosphere Pictures
Hollywood Gang Productions
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • December 9, 2006 (2006-12-09) (Butt-Numb-A-Thon[1])
  • March 9, 2007 (2007-03-09) (United States)
Running time
117 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $65 million[2]
Box office $456 million[3]

300 is a 2006 American fantasy war film based on the 1998 comic series of the same name by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley. Both are fictionalized retellings of the Battle of Thermopylae within the Persian Wars. The film was directed by Zack Snyder, while Miller served as executive producer and consultant. It was filmed mostly with a super-imposition chroma key technique, to help replicate the imagery of the original comic book.

The plot revolves around Lena Headey) attempts to rally support in Sparta for her husband. The story is framed by a voice-over narrative by the Spartan soldier Dilios (David Wenham). Through this narrative technique, various fantastical creatures are introduced, placing 300 within the genre of historical fantasy.

300 was released in both conventional and IMAX theaters in the United States on March 9, 2007, and on DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and HD DVD on July 31, 2007. The film received mixed reviews, receiving acclaim for its original visuals and style, but criticism for favoring visuals over characterization and its depiction of the ancient Persians in Iran, a characterization which some had deemed racist; however, the film was a box office success, grossing over $450 million, with the film's opening being the 24th largest in box office history at the time. A sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire, which is based on Miller's unpublished graphic novel prequel Xerxes, was released on March 7, 2014.

Contents

  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Soundtrack 4
  • Promotion and release 5
  • Reception 6
    • Box office 6.1
    • Reviews 6.2
      • Critical reception 6.2.1
    • Accolades 6.3
    • Historical accuracy 6.4
    • Controversy 6.5
  • Biology 7
  • Uses 8
    • Culinary arts 8.1
    • Uses in plant cultivation 8.2
    • Medicine 8.3
  • Cultivation 9
  • History and cultural importance 10
    • Eugenics 10.1
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Plot

One year after the famed Battle of Thermopylae, Dilios, a hoplite in the Spartan Army, begins his story by depicting the life of Leonidas I from childhood to kingship via Spartan doctrine. Dilios's story continues and Persian messengers arrive at the gates of Sparta demanding "earth and water" as a token of submission to King Xerxes; the Spartans reply by killing and kicking the messengers into a well. Leonidas then visits the Ephors, proposing a strategy to drive back the numerically superior Persians through the Hot Gates; his plan involves building a wall in order to funnel the Persians into a narrow pass between the rocks and the sea. The Ephors consult the Oracle, who decrees that Sparta will not go to war during the Carneia. As Leonidas angrily departs, a messenger from Xerxes appears, rewarding the Ephors for their covert support.

Although the Ephors have denied him permission to mobilize Sparta's army, Leonidas gathers three hundred of his best soldiers in the guise of his personal bodyguard; they are joined along the way by Arcadians. At Thermopylae, they construct the wall made up of stones and slain Persian scouts as mortar, angering the Persian Emissary. Stelios, an elite Spartan soldier, orders him to go back to the Persian lines and warn Xerxes after cutting off his whipping arm. Meanwhile, Leonidas encounters Ephialtes, a deformed Spartan whose parents fled Sparta to spare him certain infanticide. Ephialtes asks to redeem his father's name by joining Leonidas' army, warning him of a secret (goat) path the Persians could use to outflank and surround the Spartans. Though sympathetic, Leonidas rejects him since his deformity physically prevents him from properly holding his shield; this could compromise the phalanx formation. Ephialtes is enraged.

The battle begins soon after the Spartans' refusal to lay down their weapons. Using the Hot Gates to their advantage, plus their superior fighting skills, the Spartans repel wave upon wave of the advancing Persian army. During a lull in the battle, Xerxes personally approaches Leonidas to persuade him to surrender, offering him wealth and power in exchange for his allegiance; Leonidas declines and mocks Xerxes for the inferior quality of his fanatical warriors. In response, Xerxes sends in his elite guard, the Immortals later that night. Despite some Spartans being killed, they heroically defeat the Immortals (with slight help from the Arcadians). On the second day, Xerxes sends in new waves of armies from Asia and other Persian city-states, including war elephants, to crush the Spartans once and for all, but to no avail. Meanwhile, Ephialtes defects to Xerxes to whom he reveals the secret path in exchange for wealth, luxury, and (especially) a uniform. The Arcadians retreat upon learning of Ephialtes' betrayal, but the Spartans stay. Leonidas orders an injured but reluctant Dilios to return to Sparta and tell them of what has happened, a "tale of victory".

In Sparta, encircling the Spartans. Xerxes' general again demands their surrender. Leonidas seemingly kneels in submission, allowing Stelios to leap over him and kill the general. A furious Xerxes orders his troops to attack. Leonidas rises and throws his spear at Xerxes; barely missing him, the spear cuts across and wounds his face, proving the God-King's mortality. Leonidas and the remaining Spartans fight to the last man until they finally succumb to an arrow barrage.

Dilios, now back at Sparta, concludes his tale before the Council. Inspired by their King's sacrifice, the Persians will now face a larger Greek army 40,000 strong, led by 10,000 Spartans. After one final speech commemorating the 300, Dilios, now head of the Spartan Army, leads them into battle against the Persians across the fields of Plataea, ending the film.

Cast

Production

Above: the film version of a panel from the graphic novel (below).

Producer Gianni Nunnari was not the only person planning a film about the Battle of Thermopylae; director Michael Mann already planned a film of the battle based on the book Gates of Fire. Nunnari discovered Frank Miller's graphic novel 300, which impressed him enough to acquire the film rights.[5][6] 300 was jointly produced by Nunnari and Mark Canton, and Michael B. Gordon wrote the script.[7] Director Zack Snyder was hired in June 2004[8] as he had attempted to make a film based on Miller's novel before making his debut with the remake of Dawn of the Dead.[9] Snyder then had screenwriter Kurt Johnstad rewrite Gordon's script for production[8] and Frank Miller was retained as consultant and executive producer.[10]

The film is a




External links

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References

See also

In June 2008, producers Mark Canton, Gianni Nunnari and Bernie Goldmann revealed that work had begun on a sequel to 300, 300: Rise of an Empire.[38] Legendary Pictures had announced that Frank Miller started writing the follow-up graphic novel, and Zack Snyder was interested in directing the adaptation, but moved on to develop and direct the Superman reboot Man of Steel.[39][40] Noam Murro directed instead, while Zack Snyder produced. The film focused on the Athenian admiral, Themistocles, as portrayed by Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton. The sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire was released on March 7, 2014.[41]

Sequel

On the third day of the battle, Herodotus wrote that Leonidas and his small Greek force of 1,000-2,000 hoplites advanced into the wider part of the Thermopylae pass to kill as many Persians as possible. Later on in the battle, the Immortals under their general Hydarnes smashed into the rear of the Greek defenses and caused the Greek phalanx to fall apart. All of the Greek spears were broken, and the Spartans and Thespians fought with swords, knives, and their fists. Leonidas fell at some point early in the battle, shot down by Persian bowmen, and the Greeks drove back the Persians four times before they could recover their dead king's body. Leonidas' lieutenant Dioneces and a few surviving Spartans then took their king's body and retreated to a small hilltop near the Corinthian wall, where the Persian archers finished them off with a single volley of arrows.

The first two days of battle in the Thermopylae pass are described differently in the film than in the historical accounts. On the first day of battle, Xerxes ordered 5,000 archers fire arrows at the Greeks before he dispatched a force of 10,000 Medes and Cissians to attack the Greek lines. The Greeks inflicted heavy casualties on the Persians and suffered minor losses of their own. On the second day of battle, Xerxes dispatched his heavy infantry and personal bodyguard, the 10,000 Immortals against the Spartans and their allies, but they too suffered heavy losses and inflicted almost no damage on the Greek defenses.

In the film, Leonidas and his three hundred Spartan troops remain behind to guard the pass, while the rest of the Greek troops retreated after receiving word that the Persians were about to outflank them from the rear. But in the true historical accounts, including Herodotus' Histories, Leonidas remained in the pass with a small force composing of the 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians, 400 Thebans, and 900 Spartan helots.

The Immortals are described differently in Herodotus' account than in the film. According to Herodotus, the Immortals carried wicker shields, short swords, and spears as weapons. They wore colorful tunics over light shirts of scale mail, and over their heads was a wrapped cloth that covered their faces but was thin enough for them to see through. In the film, the Immortals resembled Japanese samurai warriors with katars as their weapons and silver face masks over their grimacing faces.

While the vast Persian army contained light and heavy infantry, archers, and cavalry, Xerses did not have magicians or great war beasts like war elephants and armored rhinos fighting in his forces. Also, while the film states that the Persian army numbered in the millions, many historians disagree. Herodotus placed the number of Persian troops, including Persian, Sargatian, Parthian, and Scythian horsemen, Libyan war chariots, and mounted Arab camel troops as high as 2.6 million, while modern-day historians place the actual size of the Persian army at around 300,000-500,000 in total strength.

The 300 Spartans and the Arcadians are not the only Greek troops that Leonidas leads into the Thermopylae pass. According to Herodotus and other historians, Leonidas led a small force of not only his 300 Spartan hoplites, but also 7,000 Greek soldiers from other city-states, including Thespia, Thebes, Arcadia, Phocia, and Corinth. Herodotus also states that Leonidas chose his finest warriors to form his personal bodyguard, but only of those who have living sons to ensure their bloodlines would survive. In the film, several of Leonidas' warriors are young men who have not married or had children.

The prophecy of the Oracle at Delphi is worded differently in the film than the historical prophesy. According to Herodotus, the prophecy of the oracle states that either all of Sparta will fall into the hands of the Persian Empire or the entire city must mourn for the death of one of its kings. In the film, the prophecy states that despite the fact that Sparta and all of Greece would fall, the Spartans must honor the Carnea festival.

While Leonidas was depicted as the main king of Sparta in the film, he was actually one of two Spartan kings in the historical accounts. Stelios, the young Spartan soldier who fights bravely alongside Leonidas during the three-day battle at Thermopylae is inspired by Leonidas' lieutenant Dieneces.

Differences between the film and the historical accounts

  • These include the short United 300, which won the Movie Spoof Award at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards and a visual parody of Night at the Museum.
  • Skits based upon the film have appeared on Saturday Night Live[28] and Robot Chicken, the latter of which mimicked the visual style of 300 in a parody set during the American Revolutionary War, titled "1776";[29] and in another episode there were several segments in which Leonidas shouts, "This is...(something)!" and kicks a nearby object.[30]
  • 20th Century Fox released Meet the Spartans, a spoof of 300 directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Universal Pictures was planning a similar parody, titled National Lampoon's 301: The Legend of Awesomest Maximus Wallace Leonidas.[31]
  • 300 was parodied in an episode of South Park named "D-Yikes!".[32]
  • In the game Deadliest Warrior: The Game, there is an achievement called "That was Sparta!" that is obtained by killing 300 Spartans.
  • In the video game
  • In the game God of War: Ghost of Sparta, a secret move called the Might of Sparta can be unlocked. This move is a powerful kick which resembles the "THIS IS SPARTA!" kick used in 300 that can deal immense damage to enemies and break their shields without using special attacks.
  • On February 21, 2010, the German heavy metal band Heaven Shall Burn played a show at Szene in Vienna, Austria called "Defending Sparta"; the band dressed as Spartans on stage and ticket sales for the show were limited to 300.[33]
  • 300, particularly its pithy quotations, has been "adopted" by the student body of Michigan State University (whose nickname is the Spartans), with chants of "Spartans, what is your profession?" becoming common at sporting events starting after the film's release, and Michigan State basketball head coach Tom Izzo dressed as Leonidas at one student event.[34][35]
  • King Leonidas's costume is featured in God of War: Ascension's multiplayer. It is an exclusive pre-order bonus for those who bought the game in GameStop.
  • 305 is a 2008 mockumentary parodying 300 and done in the style of The Office.
  • South Korean variety show Running Man member Kim Jong-kook is known for his sudden appearances that are often accompanied by the soundbite "Sparta!" taken from the movie, earning the nickname "Sparta-kooks".
  • Leonidas was pitted against Master Chief (Halo) in an episode of the YouTube series Epic Rap Battles of History.
  • In the online multiplayer game, League of Legends, a spartan-inspired playable character named "Pantheon" includes voiceover lines which reference 300. These include, "Getting kicked into a well is the least of your worries" and one in which the character states his profession to be a baker, rather than a warrior, as in 300.
  • Mad Magazine did their parody "BOO!" in its September 2007 issue #481, written by Desmond Devlin and illustrated by Mort Drucker.[36]
  • Nate Ebner, a football player with the New England Patriots in the National Football League and formerly with the Ohio State Buckeyes, was nicknamed "Leonidas," after the Greek warrior-king hero of Sparta acted by Gerard Butler in the movie 300, because of his intense workout regimen, and his beard.[37]

300 has been spoofed in various media, spawning the "This is Sparta!" internet meme,[27] with parodies also appearing in film and television.

A parody of the film.

In popular culture

The film's portrayal of ancient Persians caused a particularly strong reaction in Iran.[13] Azadeh Moaveni of Time reported that Tehran was "outraged" following the film's release. Moaveni identified two factors which may have contributed to the intense reaction: its release on the eve of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, and the common Iranian view of the Achaemenid Empire as "a particularly noble page in their history."[6][7][14] Various Iranian officials condemned the film.[15][16][17][18] The Iranian Academy of the Arts submitted a formal complaint against the film to UNESCO, labelling it an attack on the historical identity of Iran.[19][20] The Iranian mission to the U.N. protested the film in a press release,[21] and Iranian embassies protested its screening in France,[22] Thailand,[23] Turkey,[24] and Uzbekistan.[25] The film was banned within Iran as "hurtful American propaganda".[26]

From its opening, 300 also attracted controversy over its portrayal of Persians. Officials of the Iranian government[5] denounced the film.[6][7][8] Some scenes in the film portray demon-like and other fictional creatures as part of the Persian army, and the fictionalized portrayal of Persian King Xerxes I has been criticized as effeminate.[9][10] Critics suggested that this was meant to stand in stark contrast to the sheer masculinity of the Spartan army.[11] Steven Rea argued that the film's Persians were a vehicle for an anachronistic cross-section of Western stereotypes of Asian and African cultures.[12]

Some interpreted the portrayal of King Xerxes (right) as homosexual. Snyder said of Xerxes: "What's more scary to a 20-year-old boy than a giant god-king who wants to have his way with you?"[4]

Depictions of Persians and Iran's reaction

Contents

  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Soundtrack 4
  • Promotion and release 5
  • Reception 6
    • Box office 6.1
    • Reviews 6.2
      • Critical reception 6.2.1
    • Accolades 6.3
    • Historical accuracy 6.4
    • Controversy 6.5
  • Biology 7
  • Uses 8
    • Culinary arts 8.1
    • Uses in plant cultivation 8.2
    • Medicine 8.3
  • Cultivation 9
  • History and cultural importance 10
    • Eugenics 10.1
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Frank Miller – commenting on areas where he lessened the Spartan cruelty for narrative purposes – said: "I have King Leonidas very gently tell Ephialtes, the hunchback, that they can't use him [as a soldier], because of his deformity. It would be much more classically Spartan if Leonidas laughed and kicked him off the cliff."[3]

Michael M. Chemers, author of "'With Your Shield, or on It': Disability Representation in 300" in the Disability Studies Quarterly, said that the film's portrayal of the hunchback and his story "is not mere ableism: this is anti-disability."[2]

Ephraim Lytle, assistant professor of Hellenistic history at the University of Toronto, commented: "Ephialtes, who betrays the Greeks, is likewise changed from a local Malian of sound body into a Spartan outcast, a grotesquely disfigured troll who by Spartan custom should have been left exposed as an infant to die. Leonidas points out that his hunched back means Ephialtes cannot lift his shield high enough to fight in the phalanx. This is a transparent defence of Spartan eugenics, and convenient given that infanticide could as easily have been precipitated by an ill-omened birthmark."[84]

Eugenics

The 300 writer Frank Miller said: "The Spartans were a paradoxical people. They were the biggest slave owners in Greece. But at the same time, Spartan women had an unusual level of rights. It's a paradox that they were a bunch of people who in many ways were fascist, but they were the bulwark against the fall of democracy. The closest comparison you can draw in terms of our own military today is to think of the red-caped Spartans as being like our special-ops forces. They're these almost superhuman characters with a tremendous warrior ethic, who were unquestionably the best fighters in Greece. I didn't want to render Sparta in overly accurate terms, because ultimately I do want you to root for the Spartans. I couldn't show them being quite as cruel as they were. I made them as cruel as I thought a modern audience could stand."[91]

Newsday critic Gene Seymour, on the other hand, stated that such reactions are misguided, writing that "the movie's just too darned silly to withstand any ideological theorizing."[121] Snyder himself dismissed ideological readings, suggesting that reviewers who critique "a graphic novel movie about a bunch of guys...stomping the snot out of each other" using words like "'neocon,' 'homophobic,' 'homoerotic' or 'racist'" are "missing the point."[126] Snyder, however, also admitted to fashioning an effeminate villain specifically to play into the homophobia of young straight males.[128] Slovenian critic Slavoj Žižek pointed out that the story represents "a poor, small country (Greece) invaded by the army of a much large[r] state (Persia)," suggesting that the identification of the Spartans with a modern superpower is flawed.[130]

Outside the current political parallels, some critics have raised more general questions about the film's ideological orientation. The New York Post‍ '​s Kyle Smith wrote that the film would have pleased "Adolf's boys,"[105] and Slate‍ '​s Dana Stevens compares the film to The Eternal Jew, "as a textbook example of how race-baiting fantasy and nationalist myth can serve as an incitement to total war."[109] Roger Moore, a critic for the Orlando Sentinel, relates 300 to Susan Sontag's definition of "fascist art."[114] Alleanza Nazionale, an Italian neoconservative political party formed from the collapse of the neo-fascist party MSI, has used imagery from the work within candidate propaganda posters titled: "Defend your values, your civilization, your district".[119]

Before the release of 300, Warner Bros. expressed concerns about the political aspects of the film's theme. Snyder relates that there was "a huge sensitivity about East versus West with the studio."[96] Media speculation about a possible parallel between the Greco-Persian conflict and current events began in an interview with Snyder that was conducted before the Berlin Film Festival.[101] The interviewer remarked that "everyone is sure to be translating this [film] into contemporary politics." Snyder replied that, while he was aware that people would read the film through the lens of current events, no parallels between the film and the modern world were intended.[103]

Controversy

Dr. Kaveh Farrokh in a paper entitled "The 300 Movie: Separating Fact from Fiction" [93] notes that the film falsely portrays "the Greco-Persian Wars in binary terms: the democratic, good, rational 'Us' versus the tyrannical, evil and irrational, 'other' of the ever-nebulous (if not exotic) 'Persia'". He reminds the reader about three commonly accepted historical pieces of evidence that demonstrate the fundamental and essential contribution of the Achaemenid Empire to the creation of democracy and human rights. "The founder of the Achaemenid Empire, Cyrus the Great, was the world's first world emperor to openly declare and guarantee the sanctity of human rights and individual freedom", "Cyrus was a follower of the teachings of Zoroaster, the founder of one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions" , and to put his own words in action "When Cyrus defeated King Nabonidus of Babylon, he officially declared the freedom of the Jews from their Babylonian captivity. This was the first time in history that a world power had guaranteed the survival of the Jewish people, religion, customs and culture."

The director of 300, Zack Snyder, stated in an MTV interview that "the events are 90 percent accurate. It's just in the visualization that it's crazy.... I've shown this movie to world-class historians who have said it's amazing. They can't believe it's as accurate as it is." Nevertheless, he also said the film is "an opera, not a documentary. That's what I say when people say it's historically inaccurate".[89] He was also quoted in a BBC News story as saying that the film is, at its core "a fantasy film". He also describes the film's narrator, Dilios, as "a guy who knows how not to wreck a good story with truth".[13] In an interview 300 writer Frank Miller said, "The inaccuracies, almost all of them, are intentional. I took those chest plates and leather skirts off of them for a reason. I wanted these guys to move and I wanted 'em to look good. I knocked their helmets off a fair amount, partly so you can recognize who the characters are. Spartans, in full regalia, were almost indistinguishable except at a very close angle. Another liberty I took was, they all had plumes, but I only gave a plume to Leonidas, to make him stand out and identify him as a king. I was looking for more an evocation than a history lesson. The best result I can hope for is that if the movie excites someone, they'll go explore the histories themselves. Because the histories are endlessly fascinating."[91]

Robert McHenry, former editor-in-chief of Encyclopædia Britannica and author of How to Know said the film "is an almost ineffably silly movie. Stills from the film could easily be used to promote Buns of Steel, or AbMaster, or ThighMaster. It's about the romanticizing of the Spartan 'ideal', a process that began even in ancient times, was promoted by the Romans, and has survived over time while less and less resembling the actual historical Sparta."[88]

Some passages from the Classical authors Aeschylus, Diodorus, Herodotus and Plutarch are split over the movie to give it an authentic flavor. Aeschylus becomes a major source when the battle with the "monstrous human herd" of the Persians is narrated in the film. Diodorus' statement about Greek valor to preserve their liberty is inserted in the film, but his mention of Persian valor is omitted. Herodotus' fanciful numbers are used to populate the Persian army, and Plutarch's discussion of Greek women, specifically Spartan women, is inserted wrongly in the dialogue between the "misogynist" Persian ambassador and the Spartan king. Classical sources are certainly used, but exactly in all the wrong places, or quite naively. The Athenians were fighting a sea battle during this.[87]

Touraj Daryaee, now Baskerville Professor of Iranian History and the Persian World at the University of California, Irvine, criticized the film's use of classical sources, writing:

Victor Davis Hanson, National Review columnist and former professor of Classical history at California State University, Fresno, who wrote the foreword to a 2007 re-issue of the graphic novel, said the film demonstrates a specific affinity with the original material of Herodotus in that it captures the martial ethos of ancient Sparta and represents Thermopylae as a "clash of civilizations". He remarks that Simonides, Aeschylus, and Herodotus viewed Thermopylae as a battle against "Eastern centralism and collective serfdom", which opposed "the idea of the free citizen of an autonomous polis".[85] He also said the film portrays the battle in a "surreal" manner, and that the intent was to "entertain and shock first, and instruct second".[86]

Ephraim Lytle, assistant professor of Hellenistic History at the University of Toronto, said 300 selectively idealizes Spartan society in a "problematic and disturbing" fashion, as well as portraying the "hundred nations of the Persians" as monsters and non-Spartan Greeks as weak. He suggests that the film's moral universe would have seemed "as bizarre to ancient Greeks as it does to modern historians".[84]

Paul Cartledge, Professor of Greek History at Cambridge University, advised the filmmakers on the pronunciation of Greek names, and said they "made good use" of his published work on Sparta. He praises the film for its portrayal of "the Spartans' heroic code", and of "the key role played by women in backing up, indeed reinforcing, the male martial code of heroic honour", while expressing reservations about its "'West' (goodies) vs 'East' (baddies) polarization".[82] Cartledge writes that he enjoyed the film, although he found Leonidas' description of the Athenians as "boy lovers" ironic, since the Spartans themselves incorporated institutional pederasty into their educational system.[83]

Since few records about the actual martial arts used by the Spartans survive aside from accounts of formations and tactics, the fight choreography led by stunt coordinator and fight choreographer Damon Caro, was a synthesis of different weapon arts with Filipino martial arts as the base.[81] This can be seen in the blade work and the signature use of the off hand by Arnis/Kali/Eskrima in the offensive use of the shields. The Spartans' use of the narrow terrain, in those particular circumstances, is a military tactic known as "defeat in detail".

Historical accuracy

At the MTV Movie Awards 2007, 300 was nominated for Best Movie, Best Performance for Gerard Butler, Best Breakthrough Performance for Lena Headey, Best Villain for Rodrigo Santoro, and Best Fight for Leonidas battling "the Über Immortal",[74] but only won the award for Best Fight. 300 won both the Best Dramatic Film and Best Action Film honors in the 2006–2007 Golden Icon Awards presented by Travolta Family Entertainment.[75] In December 2007, 300 won IGN's Movie of the Year 2007,[76] along with Best Comic Book Adaptation[77] and King Leonidas as Favorite Character.[78] The movie received 10 nominations for the 2008 Saturn Awards, winning the awards for Best Director and Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film.[79] In 2009, National Review magazine ranked 300 number 5 on its 25 Best Conservative Movies of the Last 25 Years list.[80]

Accolades

Variety's Todd McCarthy describes the film as "visually arresting" although "bombastic"[69] while Kirk Honeycutt, writing in The Hollywood Reporter, praises the "beauty of its topography, colors and forms."[70] Writing in the Chicago Sun Times, Richard Roeper acclaims 300 as "the Citizen Kane of cinematic graphic novels."[71] Empire gave the film 3/5 having a verdict of "Visually stunning, thoroughly belligerent and as shallow as a pygmy's paddling pool, this is a whole heap of style tinged with just a smidgen of substance." 300 was also warmly received by websites focusing on comics and video games. Comic Book Resources' Mark Cronan found the film compelling, leaving him "with a feeling of power, from having been witness to something grand."[72] IGN's Todd Gilchrist acclaimed Zack Snyder as a cinematic visionary and "a possible redeemer of modern moviemaking."[73]

Some of the most unfavorable reviews came from major American newspapers. A.O. Scott of The New York Times describes 300 as "about as violent as Apocalypto and twice as stupid," while criticizing its color scheme and suggesting that its plot includes racist undertones; Scott also poked fun at the buffed bodies of the actors portraying the Spartans, declaring that the Persian characters are "pioneers in the art of face-piercing", but that the Spartans had access to "superior health clubs and electrolysis facilities".[65] Kenneth Turan writes in the Los Angeles Times that "unless you love violence as much as a Spartan, Quentin Tarantino or a video-game-playing teenage boy, you will not be endlessly fascinated."[66] Roger Ebert, in his review, gave the film a two-star rating, writing, "300 has one-dimensional caricatures who talk like professional wrestlers plugging their next feud."[67] Some critics employed at Greek newspapers have been particularly critical, such as film critic Robby Eksiel, who said that moviegoers would be dazzled by the "digital action" but irritated by the "pompous interpretations and one-dimensional characters."[58][68]

Since its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 14, 2007, in front of 1,700 audience members, 300 has received generally mixed reviews. While it received a standing ovation at the public premiere,[61] it was panned at a press screening hours earlier, where many attendees left during the showing and those who remained booed at the end.[62] Critics are divided on the film.[63] Rotten Tomatoes reports that 60% of critics gave the film a positive review, based upon a sample of 225, with an average score of 6.1 out of 10.[64] Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gave the film an average score of 51 based on 35 reviews.[63]

Critical reception

Reviews

300 opened two days earlier, on March 7, 2007, in MySpace advertising blitz.[60] Producer Mark Canton said, "MySpace had an enormous impact but it has transcended the limitations of the Internet or the graphic novel. Once you make a great movie, word can spread very quickly."[60]

300 was released in North America on March 9, 2007, in both conventional and IMAX theaters.[52] It grossed $28,106,731 on its opening day and ended its North American opening weekend with $70,885,301,[53] breaking the record held by Ice Age: The Meltdown for the biggest opening weekend in the month of March and for a Spring release. Since then 300‍ '​s Spring release record was broken by Fast and Furious and 300‍ '​s March record was broken by Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. 300's opening weekend gross is the 24th highest in box office history, coming slightly below The Lost World: Jurassic Park but higher than Transformers.[54] It was the third biggest opening for an R-rated film ever, behind The Matrix Reloaded ($91.8 million) and The Passion of the Christ ($83.8 million).[55] The film also set a record for IMAX cinemas with a $3.6 million opening weekend.[56] The film grossed $456,068,181 worldwide.

Box office

Reception

On July 9, 2007, the American cable channel TNT bought the rights to broadcast the film from Warner Bros.[50] TNT started airing the film in September 2009. Sources say that the network paid between $17 million[51] and just under $20 million[50] for the broadcasting rights. TNT agreed to a three-year deal instead of the more typical five-year deal.[51]

In August 2006, Warner Bros. announced 300's release date as March 16, 2007,[48] but in October the release was moved forward to March 9, 2007.[38] 300 was released on DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and HD DVD on July 31, 2007, in Region 1 territories, in single-disc and two-disc editions. 300 was released in single-disc and steelcase two-disc editions on DVD, BD and HD DVD in Region 2 territories beginning August 2007. On July 21, 2009, Warner Bros. released a new Blu-ray Disc entitled 300: The Complete Experience to coincide with the Blu-ray Disc release of Watchmen. This new Blu-ray Disc is encased in a 40-page Digibook and includes all the extras from the original release as well as some new ones. These features include a Picture-in-Picture feature entitled The Complete 300: A Comprehensive Immersion, which enables the viewer to view the film in three different perspectives. This release also includes a digital copy.[49]

Warner Bros. promoted 300 by sponsoring the Ultimate Fighting Championship's light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell, who made personal appearances and participated in other promotional activities.[46] The studio also joined with the National Hockey League to produce a 30-second TV spot promoting the film in tandem with the Stanley Cup playoffs.[47]

In April 2006, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced its intention to make a PlayStation Portable game, 300: March to Glory, based on the film. Collision Studios worked with Warner Bros. to capture the style of the film in the video game, which was released simultaneously with the film in the United States.[43] The National Entertainment Collectibles Association produced a series of action figures based on the film,[44] as well as replicas of weapons and armor.[45]

At Comic-Con International in July 2006, the 300 panel aired a promotional teaser of the film, which was positively received.[36] Despite stringent security, the trailer was subsequently leaked on the Internet.[37] Warner Bros. released the official trailer for 300 on October 4, 2006,[38] and later on it made its debut on Apple.com where it received considerable exposure. The background music used in the trailers was "Just Like You Imagined" by Nine Inch Nails. A second 300 trailer, which was attached to Apocalypto, was released in theaters on December 8, 2006,[39] and online the day before.[40] On January 22, 2007, an exclusive trailer for the film was broadcast during prime time television.[41] The trailers have been credited with igniting interest in the film and contributing to its box-office success.[42]

The official 300 website was launched by Warner Bros. in December 2005. The "conceptual art" and Zack Snyder's production blog were the initial attractions of the site.[33] Later, the website added video journals describing production details, including comic-to-screen shots and the creatures of 300. In January 2007, the studio launched a MySpace page for the film.[34] The Art Institutes created a micro-site to promote the film.[35]

Actress Lena Headey facing right in a silver dress at the London premiere of the film in March 2007
Lena Headey at the London premiere, 2007

Promotion and release

... a number of the music cues for the score of 300 were, without our knowledge or participation, derived from music composed by Academy Award winning composer Elliot Goldenthal for the motion picture Titus. Warner Bros. Pictures has great respect for Elliot, our longtime collaborator, and is pleased to have amicably resolved this matter.[32]

The score has caused some controversy in the film composer community, garnering criticism for its striking similarity to several other recent soundtracks, including James Horner and Gabriel Yared's work for the film Troy. The heaviest borrowings are said to be from Elliot Goldenthal's 1999 score for Titus. "Remember Us," from 300, is identical in parts to the "Finale" from Titus, and "Returns a King" is similar to the cue "Victorius Titus."[29][30][31] (see copyright issues.) On August 3, 2007, Warner Bros. Pictures acknowledged in an official statement:

In July 2005, composer Tyler Bates begun work on the film, describing the score as having "beautiful themes on the top and large choir," but "tempered with some extreme heaviness." The composer had scored for a test scene that the director wanted to show to Warner Bros. to illustrate the path of the project. Bates said that the score had "a lot of weight and intensity in the low end of the percussion" that Snyder found agreeable to the film.[26] The score was recorded at Abbey Road Studios and features the vocals of Azam Ali.[27] A standard edition and a special edition of the soundtrack containing 25 tracks was released on March 6, 2007, with the special edition containing a 16-page booklet and three two-sided trading cards.[28]

Soundtrack

Post-production was handled by Montreal's Meteor Studios and Hybride Technologies filled in the bluescreen footage with more than 1,500 visual effects shots. Visual effects supervisor, Chris Watts, and production designer, Jim Bissell, created a process dubbed "The Crush,"[16] which allowed the Meteor artists to manipulate the colors by increasing the contrast of light and dark. Certain sequences were desaturated and tinted to establish different moods. Ghislain St-Pierre, who led the team of artists, described the effect: "Everything looks realistic, but it has a kind of a gritty illustrative feel."[16][23] Various computer programs, including Maya, RenderMan and RealFlow, were used to create the "spraying blood."[24] The post-production lasted for a year and was handled by a total of ten special effects companies.[25]

300 entered active production on October 17, 2005, in Montreal,[17] and was shot over the course of sixty days[16] in chronological order[14] with a budget of $60 million.[18] Employing the digital backlot technique, Snyder shot at the now-defunct Icestorm Studios in Montreal using bluescreens. Butler said that while he did not feel constrained by Snyder's direction, fidelity to the comic imposed certain limitations on his performance. Wenham said there were times when Snyder wanted to precisely capture iconic moments from the comic book, and other times when he gave actors freedom "to explore within the world and the confines that had been set."[19] Headey said of her experience with the bluescreens, "It's very odd, and emotionally, there's nothing to connect to apart from another actor."[20] Only one scene, in which horses travel across the countryside, was shot outdoors.[21] The film was an intensely physical production, and Butler pulled an arm tendon and developed foot drop.[22]

Two months of pre-production were required to create hundreds of shields, spears, and swords, some of which were recycled from Troy and Alexander. Creatures were designed by Jordu Schell,[15] and an animatronic wolf and thirteen animatronic horses were created. The actors trained alongside the stuntmen, and even Snyder joined in. Upwards of 600 costumes were created for the film, as well as extensive prosthetics for various characters and the corpses of Persian soldiers. Shaun Smith and Mark Rappaport worked hand in hand with Snyder in pre-production to design the look of the individual characters, and to produce the prosthetic makeup effects, props, weapons and dummy bodies required for the production.[16]

Above: A scene during filming. Below: The finished scene.

[14]

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