300 || 2006, USA || Adventure || Directed by – Zack Snyder / Produced by – Marc Canton, Bernie Goldman, Gianni Nunnari, Jeffrey Silver / Screenplay by – Michael B. Gordon, Kurt Johnstad, Zack Snyder (based on a comic by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley) / Music by – Tyler Bates / Cinematography – Larry Fong / Editing by – William Hoy / Starring – Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Rodrigo Santoro, Dominic West / Running time: 116 mins.
Zack Snyder’s fantastic-historical epic 300 quickly gained a cult following upon its 2006 release due to its excesses. Based on a Frank Miller and Lynn Varley 1998 comic, which drew inspiration from the Battle of Thermopylae within the Persian Wars, it revolves around King Leonidas (portrayed by Gerard Butler in the film version), who leads 300 Spartans into battle against the Persian “god-kind” Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his invading army of more than 300,000 soldiers.
In retrospect, it’s hard to escape the film’s contemporary political inclination as a product of the Bush administration years; it not only places the Persians as bad guys but also places its emphasis on their close connection with their religion, thus highlighting it as a powerful source of all evil in the movie. Ultimately, the 300‘s apparent shallowness prevents any such connection to come to the fore, or to even be treated seriously.
Snyder’s film unashamedly relies on spectacle through its unrestrained use of CGI, alongside an innovative use of super-imposition Chroma key technique to help replicate the imagery of the original comic book, and muscular semi-naked male bodies, complete with spray-painted abs where necessary.
It is, to be sure, a visually stunning work and its energy is exciting and testosterone fuelled (with a tinge of homo-eroticism). However, it’s hard to believe that the film will truly be able to sustain a long-lasting legacy beyond that of its technical aspects, given its proneness to over-characterization and crazy one-liners. – 4/5