Grant Godfrey Film Appreciation 11/27/09 Glory or Death A Film Analysis of “300” Most people have heard the story of King Leonidas and the bold three hundred; but for the people that have never heard of the three hundred Spartans until the movie came out, it definitely opened their eyes after viewing the film. Some do not understand why this story is one of the most amazing ones in Greek history, mostly the people who do not know much about it. It is an inspirational story that tells us many things about life and what comes with it.
Three hundred Spartans standing up to thousands of Persians sets the example that size in numbers do not matter, and neither does being the underdog. When the Persians asked the Spartans to surrender, King Leonidas would reply with “Glory or Death. ” Some things are worth fighting for, and in this situation, worth dying for as well. When you work hard for something and believe in yourself, you can achieve anything. The amazing editing and camera techniques of the movie stay consistent from beginning to end. Wherever the scenes lead to, the physical theme never fades. It is not a very colorful movie.
From the sea to the cliffs to the ground, everything in the background is gold. Once inside a building or palace, all the pillars seem to be lit up, and everything behind them is shadowed out, so the focus is on the characters and what is directly behind them. Another way the cinematography captures our attention is by focusing in from one thing to another, also known as mise en scene. Something up close to the camera will appear, then get unfocused and direct the focus on something in the background. The whole movie is narrated, as if someone is telling this as a story to a group of people.
A few minutes into the beginning we see a group of Spartans, and who the narrator is. It is another Spartan who fought alongside with King Leonidas, and is continuing the story of the brave three hundred. The narrator, or Spartan name Dilios, says the king’s name, and the other Spartans start to chant a battle call. This motif symbolizes the toughness and profession of the Spartans. Now that we have a feeling for the movie early on, the genre becomes clear that it is a Greek age movie. This genre is a mix of true style and updated techniques.
The simplicity with the color and accurate clothes, weapons, and environment make it true to style. The actors acting out their characters are what make the movie seem updated, because they act more modern. The exposition of the movie shows future King Leonidas as a child training to become a Spartan. As he grows he returns to Sparta and becomes king. But with this responsibility comes problems. King Xerxes of the Persians wants to take over Sparta. This causes Leonidas to go into battle with three hundred Spartans. Leonidas being the protagonist, and Xerxes being the antagonist, this causes the conflict for the movie.
One wants to keep their freedom, and the other wants to take it away. What is now the rising action; things are starting to heat up between the two kings. Xerxes sends out many troops at a time to take on the three hundred Spartans, but is never able to defeat them. This is where Xerxes discovers that the Spartans are not just slaves fighting, but trained warriors. This makes him mad and outraged. During these battles, a lot of computer graphic images are used for blood and other gory scenes. Detailed work is also done on the characters bodies.
To show toughness, the editors enhanced the characters bodies to make them look more muscular and invulnerable. Another technique used is erasing. While in battle, a Spartan’s head gets chopped off. With his body still on camera, the editors just erased the head out of the frame. There is a battle outside of Sparta, and another inside. The movie is not only about three hundred Spartans, but also the Queen of Leonidas. This allegory makes the movie about a battle between love and war. Queen Gorgo, Leonidas’s wife, is dealing with councilman Theron while her husband is at war.
Theron did not want Leonidas to go to war against the Persian army. With Leonidas not being home, Theron becomes fond of Gorgo, and attempts to have his way with her. Since Gorgo does not believe in the same things as Theron does, it causes a conflict between them. The Queen eventually gives in and lets Theron do what he wants with her. This is the first reversal of the movie. We see the powerful and strong Queen give in to a bad councilman. While there is a reversal in Sparta, there is another on the battle field. A creature named Ephialtes, whose father fought in the Spartan army, wants to ontinue what his father did, but gets rejected by Leonidas. Ephialtes is upset and decides to join the Persian army. Once all for the Spartan army, and now switching sides and betraying Leonidas. The most defying moment and climax of the movie came when Leonidas was left with a handful of soldiers for the final battle. Xerxes shows up and gives Leonidas one more chance to surrender. Xerses promises him gold for the city and eternal glory. The biggest reversal happens when Leonidas kneels down to Xerxes and drops his weapons. We as an audience feels like our hero has let us down and given up.
A second reversal then comes when Leonidas changes his mind and signals for his Spartans to start attacking. Hundreds of archers fire their bows at the Spartans and kill them all; but not before Leonidas could throw his spear and hit Xerxes enough to make him bleed like he promised earlier in the movie. Leonidas’s last words were “My Queen, my wife. ” Though Spartans were supposed to show no sadness or weakness, the strength outside could not hide the love coming from inside. Dilios comes back to Sparta and hands Queen Leonidas the wolf tooth that hung around his neck.
The Queen and her son discover that Leonidas has died on the battle field fighting for their freedom. “It has been less than one year since the three hundred Spartans had made their last stand,” says Dilios commanding an army of now over 30,000 Spartans and Greeks, taking on Xerxes army. This is the perfect denouement for any war movie; seeing someone new become the hero and continuing what the original hero intended to accomplish. The director’s task for the movie was to educate, and at the same time entertain. Also to make it look different from other movies by having less color, and more editing /camera techniques.
Zack Snyder directed this movie to tell an amazing story of King Leonidas and the bold and brave three hundred. Other movies have been made about this story, but no one can top the detail and perfect work that Zack did. Gerard Butler displayed a good King Leonidas and really brought out his inner character. Zack’s idea of having a Spartan from the future narrate the story was genius and made the movie seem more intense. It is better told as a story than just seen as a movie. This is why it is one of the greatest past history stories of all time.