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300 (Movies)
300 (Movies)
300 (Movies)
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Information about 300 (film)

300 is a 2007 (14 years ago) American action movie adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller, and is a fictionalized retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae. The movie was directed by Zack Snyder, while Miller served as executive producer and consultant. The movie was shot mostly with a super-imposition chroma key technique, to help replicate the imagery of the original comic book.

Spartan King Leonidas (Gerard Butler (5 walls)) and 300 Spartans fight to the last man against Persian "God-King" Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his army of more than one million soldiers. As the battle rages, Spartan Queen Gorgo (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 Mar. 9, 2007 (14 years ago), and on DVD, Blu-ray, and HD DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) on Jul. 31, 2007 (14 years ago). The film's opening was the 24th largest in box office history, although critics were divided over its look and style. Some acclaimed it as an original achievement, while others criticized it for favoring visuals over characterization and its controversial depiction of the ancient Persians.


Through Dilios' narration, the life of young Leonidas is depicted, chronicling his journey from a boy to a man through the Spartan doctrine of Agoge. Years later, after Leonidas is crowned King, Persian messengers arrive at the gates of Sparta demanding its submission to King Xerxes. Offended by their threats and behavior, Leonidas and his guards kick the messengers into a well. Knowing that these actions will precipitate a Persian attack, Leonidas visits the Ephors, ancient priests whose blessing he needs to convince the Spartan council to authorize going to war. He proposes a strategy to repel the numerically superior Persians by using the terrain of Thermopylae (the Hot Gates); his plan involves funneling the Persians into a narrow pass between the rocks and the sea. The Ephors consult the Oracle Pythia, who decrees that Sparta must not go to war. After Leonidas departs a messenger from Xerxes appears, rewarding the Ephors for their covert support and revealing that they have been corrupted by Xerxes.

Denied by the Ephors, Leonidas follows his plan anyway, deciding to set out with only 300 soldiers. While he does not require the council's permission for this, taking such a small force turns what had been a bold strategy into a certain suicide mission. Leonidas hopes that the sacrifice of himself and his men will spur the council to defy the Ephors and all of Greece to unite against the threat to freedom and democracy (represented by Greece) posed by slavery and tyranny (represented by Persia).

Along the way to Thermopylae, the Spartans are joined by Arcadians and various other Greeks. Along the path, the band encounters a sacked town burning on fire, apparently caused by Persian Immortals. Only a young child is left to live. They construct a wall at Thermopylae to contain the approaching Persian advance. Meanwhile, Leonidas encounters Ephialtes, a hunchbacked Spartan whose parents fled Sparta to spare him certain infanticide. Ephialtes asks to redeem his father's name by joining Leonidas, warning him of a secret path the Persians could use to outflank and surround them. Leonidas is sympathetic to the eager warrior but rejects him, as Ephialtes cannot properly hold a shield, which would compromise the Spartans' phalanx formation.

Prior to the battle, the Persians demand that the Spartans lay down their weapons. Leonidas refuses, and with their tightly-knit phalanx formation the Spartans use the narrow terrain to repeatedly rebuff the advancing Persian army. Xerxes personally approaches Leonidas to persuade him to surrender, offering Leonidas wealth and power in exchange for his loyalty. Leonidas declines, promising instead to make the "God-King" bleed. Outraged, Xerxes sends in his elite guard, the Immortals, whom the Spartans dispatch. As the Spartans continue to defeat Xerxes' forces, Ephialtes defects to the Persian king and reveals the location of the secret path. When they realize Ephialtes' treachery, the Arcadians retreat. Leonidas orders a reluctant Dilios to return to Sparta to tell the Council of their sacrifice.

In Sparta, Gorgo, Queen of Sparta reluctantly submits sexually to the influential Theron in exchange for help in persuading the Spartan council to send reinforcements to Leonidas. Following her address to the Council, Theron publicly betrays the Queen, prompting the councilmen to cry out in outrage and Gorgo to kill him out of rage, spilling open a bag of Persian coins from his robe. The exposure of Theron's treachery, along with their Queen's plea, prompts the Council to unite against Persia. Meanwhile, at Thermopylae, the Persians use the goat path to surround the Spartans. Xerxes' general demands their surrender, again offering Leonidas titles and prestige. Leonidas seemingly bows in submission, allowing one of his men to leap over him and kill the general instead. A furious Xerxes orders his troops to attack. As Persian archers shoot at the remaining Spartans, Leonidas rises and hurls his spear at Xerxes, cutting the King on the cheek, thus making good on his promise to make "the God-King bleed." Visibly disturbed by this reminder of his own mortality, Xerxes watches as all of the Spartans are slaughtered by a massive barrage of arrows.

Concluding his tale before an audience of attentive Spartans, Dilios declares that the Persian army, depleted by desertions out of fear the heavy casualties they suffered at the hands of a mere 300 Spartans, now faces 10,000 Spartans commanding 30,000 Greeks. Although still outnumbered, Dilios declares that the Greeks shall have victory. Praising Leonidas' sacrifice, Dilios leads the brave Greeks in a charge against the Persian army, resulting in the great Battle of Plataea.


  • Gerard Butler (5 walls) as King Leonidas: King of Sparta
  • Lena Headey as Queen Gorgo: Queen of Sparta
  • Dominic West as Theron: A corrupt (fictional) Spartan politician
  • David Wenham as Dilios: Narrator and Spartan soldier
  • Vincent Regan as Captain Artemis: Leonidas' loyal captain and friend
  • Tom Wisdom as Astinos: Captain Artemis' eldest son
  • Andrew Pleavin as Daxos: Arcadian soldier
  • Andrew Tiernan as Ephialtes: Deformed Spartan outcast
  • Rodrigo Santoro as King Xerxes: King of Persia
  • Stephen McHattie as The Loyalist: A loyal Spartan politician
  • Michael Fassbender as Stelios: Young and spirited Spartan soldier
  • Peter Mensah as Persian messenger
  • Kelly Craig as the Oracle
  • Tyler Neitzel as Young Leonidas
  • Robert Maillet as Über Immortal (Giant)
  • Patrick Sabongui as Persian General


Producer Gianni Nunnari was not the only person planning a movie about the Battle of Thermopylae; director Michael Mann already planned a movie 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 movie rights. 300 was jointly produced by Nunnari and Mark Canton, and Michael B. Gordon wrote the script. Director Zack Snyder was hired in Jun. 2004 (17 years ago) as he had attempted to make a movie based on Miller's novel before making his debut with the remake of Dawn of the Dead. Snyder then had screenwriter Kurt Johnstad rewrite Gordon's script for production and Frank Miller was retained as consultant and executive producer.

The movie is a shot-for-shot adaptation of the comic book, similar to the movie adaptation of Sin City. Snyder photocopied panels from the comic book, from which he planned the preceding and succeeding shots. "It was a fun process for me... to have a frame as a goal to get to," he said. Like the comic book, the adaptation also used the character Dilios as a narrator. Snyder used this narrative technique to show the audience that the surreal "Frank Miller world" of 300 was told from a subjective perspective. By utilizing Dilios' gift of storytelling, he is able to introduce fantasy elements into the film, explaining that "Dilios is a guy who knows how not to wreck a good story with truth." Snyder also added the sub-plot in which Queen Gorgo attempts to rally support for her husband.

Two months of pre-production were required to create hundreds of shields, spears and swords, some of which were recycled from Troy and Alexander. An animatronic wolf and thirteen animatronic horses were also 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. Mark Rappaport worked hand in hand with Snyder in pre-production to design the look of the individual characters, and to produce the prosthetics, props, weapons and dummy bodies required for the production.

300 entered active production on Oct. 17, 2005 (16 years ago), in Montreal, and was shot over the course of sixty days in chronological order with a budget of $60 million. Employing the digital backlot technique, Snyder shot at the now-defunct Icestorm Studios in Montreal using bluescreens. Butler said that while he didn't 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." Headey said of her experience with the bluescreens, "It's very odd, and emotionally, there's nothing to connect to apart from another actor." Only one scene, in which horses travel across the countryside, was shot outdoors. The movie was an intensely physical production, and Butler pulled an arm tendon and developed a foot drop.

Post-production was handled by Montreal's Meteor Studios and Hybride Technologies filled in the bluescreen footage with more than 1500 (521 years ago) visual effects shots. Visual effects supervisor Chris Watts and production designer Jim Bissell created a process dubbed "The Crush," 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." Various computer programs, including Maya, RenderMan and RealFlow, were used to create the "spraying blood." The post-production lasted for a year and was handled by a total of ten special effects companies.


Since its world premiere at the Berlin International movie Festival on Feb. 14, 2007 (14 years ago), in front of 1,700 audience members, 300 has received generally mixed reviews. While it received a standing ovation at the public premiere, it was reportedly panned at a press screening hours earlier, where many attendees left during the showing and those who remained booed at the end. Critical reviews of 300 are divided. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 60 percent of North American and selected international critics gave the movie a positive review, based upon a sample of 214, with an average score of 6.1 out of 10. Reviews from selected notable critics were 47 percent positive, giving the movie an average score of 5.7 out of 10 based on a sample of 38. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the movie has received an average score of 51 based on 35 reviews.

Variety's Todd McCarthy describes the movie as "visually arresting" although "bombastic" while Kirk Honeycutt, writing in The Hollywood Reporter, praises the "beauty of its topography, colors and forms." Writing in the Chicago Sun Times, Richard Roeper acclaims 300 as "the Citizen Kane of cinematic graphic novels." 300 was also warmly received by websites focusing on comics and video games. Comic Book Resources' Mark Cronan found the movie compelling, leaving him "with a feeling of power, from having been witness to something grand." IGN's Todd Gilchrist acclaimed Zack Snyder as a cinematic visionary and "a possible redeemer of modern moviemaking."

A number of critical reviews appeared in 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. 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." Roger Ebert, in his review, gave the movie a two-star rating, writing, "300 has one-dimensional caricatures who talk like professional wrestlers plugging their next feud."

Some Greek newspapers have been particularly critical, such as movie critic Robby Eksiel, who said that moviegoers would be dazzled by the "digital action" but irritated by the "pompous interpretations and one-dimensional characters."

Awards received

At the MTV Movie Awards 2007 (14 years ago), 300 was nominated for Best Movie, Best Performance for Gerard Butler (5 walls), Best Breakthrough Performance for Lena Headey, Best Villain for Rodrigo Santoro, and Best Fight for Leonidas battling "the Über Immortal." It eventually won the award for Best Fight. 300 won both the Best Dramatic movie and Best Action movie honors in the 2006-2007 Golden Icon Awards presented by Travolta Family Entertainment. In dec. 2007 (14 years ago), 300 won IGN's Movie of the Year 2007 (14 years ago), along with Best Comic Book Adaptation and King Leonidas as Favorite Character. At the 2008 (13 years ago) Saturn Awards, the movie won the award for Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film.

In 2009 (12 years ago), National Review magazine ranked "300" number 5 on its 25 Best Conservative Movies of the Last 25 Years list.


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