As pressure intensifies to end the conflict in Iraq, 300 provides an interesting allegory about war and the pursuit of democracy. Should an army fight for what it believes is right and just even if political support for the battle is lacking? In this extremely violent film, 300 Spartan soldiers take on a vast Persian military machine. They’re warriors, but ultimately no match for the multitude.
Set in 480 B.C., 300 re-enacts the Persion War battle of Thermopylae. Persian leader Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) demands that Sparta’s military leader Leonidas (Gerard Butler) submit to him in humiliating fashion. Like when Groucho Marx offends Louis Calhern in Duck Soup by calling him an “upstart,” the slightest offense in 300 signals Leonidas to round up his troops.
Frank Miller’s graphic novel on which the movie is based gets the full Lord of the Rings treatment, as massive numbers of armed enemies rain weapons down on Sparta’s fearless fighters. Several scenes — the dark cloud of spears, elephants riding herd, a behemoth — are direct Rings rip-offs. And fans of decapitation (you know who you are, Apocalypto fiends) will have lots to cheer about.
The blood may be digital — it all vaporizes before ever reaching the ground – yet the message is clear: War is hell, but it sure beats peace.