I saw it again the other day. What’s really amazing is the entire movie was shot in front of a blue screen in a warehouse. That Gerard Butler could feel so impassioned in a warehouse without the beautiful landscape of Greece to inspire him is unbelievable.
I was reading Readers’ Reviews of 300 in The New York Times online…here are some of the more memorable things people had to say about the movie:
Great Movie For Real Men
“I would expect the reviewer of movies for the NY Times not to like the movie 300. Only a real man who understands honor and sacrifice for a cause greater than one’s self would understand. The feel of the movie reminds me of Shakespeare—Saint Crispin Day Speech from Henry the V. You get the same chill and sense of pride that a wormy little puke living in an office building would never understand. Maybe your boyfriend can explain it to you if he happens to be a little more butch than you.”
What did you expect, A.O. Scott?
“I agree with the people that gave the movie a positive rating and have to wonder what A.O. Scott was expecting when he went to see it. Did you expect group hugs and heartfelt confessions of love? Then go see “Sophie’s Choice” or some chick flick. This film is an epic about a historic event, where warriors went willingly and knowingly to sacrifice their lives in defense of their country. They went to kill and be killed and if that doesn’t raise the hair on your neck just a little bit, you should seriously consider artificially supplementing your testosterone. I would also like to add that a lot of small details in the film are accurate, or at least were reported as such by historians of the time. E.g. even the most conservative accounts have the size of the Persian army at several hundred thousands, while Herodotus reports the army at 2.5 million. Other details, such as Leonidas’ answer to Xerxes “Come and get them” referring to the Spartans’ weapons, the comment “Then we will fight in the shade” and the Spartan wives’ farewell to their husbands using the phrase “Come back with your shield or on it” are also ditbits [sic] reported by historians. The movie is aesthetically breathtaking with its comic-book images and the battle scenes are beautifully choreographed. Oh, and did I mention: It is an action film!”
Metro vs Male
“If you can look past the blatant racism, homophobia, and sexism you just might find a misogynistic nugget in Zack Snyder’s “300”. The two military leaders in this film are polar opposites in our modern male dichotomy. The Persian leader Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) is an effeminate metro sexual male complete with makeup, drawn in eyebrows and literally covered in gold jewelery and piercings. Meanwhile our Christ-like savor King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) is a man’s man, muscled, bearded and very full of heterosexual virility. It is refreshing (seriously) to find an action movie that gives prestige to the Schwarzenegger male rather than the increasingly popular weak, non-believable heroes like Orlando Bloom, Leonardo DiCaprio, or Nicolas Cage. Give our youth something to strive for: a conservative archetype they can hope to become.”
And… an excerpt from one of my favorite reviews, Richard Roeper’s “Battle Worthy,” which ran in the Chicago Sun-Times:
“This is a movie that revels in a time when men were men and women were women, and the men loved the women but spent most of their time fighting with other men, all the while spouting grandiloquent speeches about duty and country and loyalty, and the glory of a “beautiful death” on the battlefield…
…Though his face is covered with a tricky beard throughout and a battle mask for much of the film, Gerard Butler delivers an honest, three-dimensional performance as King Leonidas, who never strays from his convictions and never hesitates to put himself on the front lines. Perhaps the only stronger character in the film is his adoring wife, Queen Gorgo (the luminous Lena Headey). She doesn’t just encourage her king to take on the suicidal task of fending off the Persians, she insists upon on it, telling him, “Return with your shield — or on your shield.” Something tells us she won’t be tying yellow ribbons ’round the old Greek columns, waiting for her man to come home.”
Swords, sandals, abs and pecs
Also, excerpts from the Chicago Sun-Times, “Swords, sandals, abs and pecs: ‘300’ wardrobe caused more fuss than bloody battles,” by Cindy Pearlman:
“…Most of the men wear nearly nothing throughout the entire film, making this movie appealing to those who don’t give a fig about history or bloody action films.
“You can just imagine the notes I got from the studio,” Snyder says over breakfast at the Beverly Hilton.
A slight fellow who looks more like a college student than a hot, up-and-coming director, Snyder, 40, shrugs and recalls the feedback he got when he turned in reels of men clad in teeny loincloths and occasional chest plates that they held in front of their well-toned pecs. Cast members developed these muscles in the “300” boot camp, a month of exercise hell held before filming…”