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300 dazzles audiences with its cinematography and graphics

“Prepare for Glory!” read the caption on posters advertising the movie 300, which was released on March 9, 2007.

The movie, based on the graphic novel 300 by author Frank Miller and illustrator Lynn Varley, is another success in a long tradition of epic battle films. What makes the film exceptional, however, is not the plot as much as the revolutionary cinematography and graphic design.

The whole movie was shot in digital backlot, which means that the background is composed entirely of bluescreens, like those used during a weather report on television. These groundbreaking techniques, similar to those used in the movie Sin City, also based on a graphic novel by Miller, create stunning visual displays.

300 depicts the battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. between the Spartans and the Persians. In the beginning of the film, King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) of Sparta, is approached by a messenger from King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) of Persia.

Xerxes presents Leonidas with a seemingly generous offer. If Leonidas is willing to come under Xerxes leadership, Xerxes will not attack him. Leonidas, knowing that he has the most skillful, well-trained soldiers in the known world at his back, refuses. Thus, the battle ensues.

At one point early in the battle, a Persian emissary comes up to Leonidas and warns him that “a thousand nations of the Persian Empire descend upon you! Our arrows will blot out the sun!”

Stelios (Michael Fassbender), one of Leonidas’s most valuable soldiers, replies with a grin, “Then we will fight in the shade.”

This scene exemplifies the polar opposite mindsets of these two armies. One will use strength, the other skill.

Behind the scenes, several plots are constructed against Leonidas. Theron (Dominic West), a corrupt, power hungry member of the council, and Ephialtes (Andrew Tiernan), a misshapen man rejected by the army, both betray Leonidas. On the other hand, Leonidas’s men and his wife, Gorgo (Lena Headey) are incredibly loyal and go to great lengths to aid their king.

Unfortunately, history is oftentimes at the mercy of the author or screenwriter’s creative license and 300 is no exception. The film is sprinkled with historical inaccuracies.

For instance, there has been some controversy about how the Greek, Spartan, and Persian cultures have been portrayed. The screenwriter did, however, capture the intensity and harshness of the Spartan society, the predominately pastoral nature of Arcadian society and the use of slaves as soldiers in the Persian society.

Also, the film makes it seem as if the Spartans were the only people personally threatened by Xerxes and that their soldiers were the main ones to fight the Persian army. While they were a crucial force in the battle, an alliance of Greek city-states (of which Spartan was one) also banded together to fight.

On the other hand, it is true that although the Greek army was overwhelmingly outnumbered by the Persians, they were the superior fighters. Despite these historical inaccuracies, the film is still thoroughly entertaining.

Keep in mind that the film did in fact earn its R rating. It includes multiple scenes of graphic violence, one sex scene and some nudity. Violence is to be expected because of the film’s subject matter and although the sex scene is not essential to the plot, it does help to illustrate the intense bond between the king and queen.

In conclusion, as you sit in the theater waiting in anticipation for the movie to begin, remember the advice of the poster and “Prepare for Glory!”

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