Film Critique On The 300 Spartans

1839 words - 7 pages

The 300 Spartans is a 1962 Cinemascope film depicting the Battle of Thermopylae between the Greek Spartans, and the Persian invading army led by King Xerxes which took place around 480 B.C.E.The film, “The 300 Spartans” depicts the Greek Spartans as the stuff of legend. That is, through superior weaponry, armor and tactics (the famed Greek Hoplite phalanx), combined with the narrow pass of Thermopylae, enabled the small amount of Greek Spartan warriors (i.e. 300 total) to repel several frontal Persian assaults for three days even though the Persians (As reported by the ancient Greek historian, Herodotus) outnumbered the Spartans with a combined strength of supposedly two and a half million men. The films central thesis and moral is that although the Spartans lost the battle, they won the war because they were free men fighting against a tyrant and displayed such valor in doing so, that all of Greek would unite and follow suit, crushing the Persian army advance in Greece.The film begins with a council of Greek city states (known as Polis) in Corinth, where the Athenian statesman Themistocles pressed hard to coalesce the rest of the Greek city-states into a united Greek defense against the tyrannical rule of the Persians, thus solidifying the films underlying premise of free men versus tyrannical slavery.Themistocles is successful in enlisting the help of Sparta, by convincing the Spartan king, Leonidas, that if he were to lead his warriors into battle, the rest of Greece would follow. Leonidas and Themistocles quickly devise a plan to thwart the Persian’s vast armies by using a geographically defensible position, known as Thermopylae, where the vast numbers of the Persian’s armies are negated by the narrow pass through the mountains and into central Greece.However, because the Spartans are a very religious city-state, upon sharing the plan with the Spartan city council, King Leonidas is met with opposition to bringing forth the army of Sparta during the “religious festivals” taking place. The Spartan council therefore rules that the army of Sparta will have to wait until after the festivals to defend Greece against Persia.Not satisfied with this conclusion, King Leonidas decides to take his personal guard of Spartan warriors (300 in total) which are not subject to rule by the Spartan council, and march to Thermopylae to defend Greece against the armies of Persia. Along the way, Leonidas is joined by the Thespians (another Greek city state), and bolstering his numbers, they pledge to assist in defending Greece alongside King Leonidas.Leonidas arrives at Thermopylae and begins setting up a defensible position by re-building a wall to funnel the Persians in even further more. King Xerxes, while taking part in the carnal pleasures of men, sends his emissaries to attempt to convince King Leonidas to stand down, which is met with a “free men vs. slaves” speech in which King Leonidas describes how his men are free...

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