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Sunday, August 2, 2009

300 (Released in 2007) - Historical battle and valour

The ancient world was replete with fights and wars. Armies travelled long distances to fight, and warfare was often with massive casualties. One of the most famous kings of the ancient times was Xerxes The Great (Xerxes 1 of Persia), and he was involved with one of the most famous battles of historic times. This was the Battle of Thermopylae (wikipedia), where a much smaller contingent of Greek troops led by the King Leonidas I of Sparta fought till the end to hold off a much larger contingent (in the millions) of Persian troops led by King Xerxes. This was a battle that is part of modern strategy because of the use of terrain planning to level the odds of superior armed forces. King Leonidas was also fighting a rear-guard battle with his Spartan council to get them to support him over this battle, and he wanted to shame them with his valiant sacrifice to take action. In the end, he was betrayed by a traitor (Ephialtes) from within the Greek citizenry who revealed a small path that allowed the Persians to outflank the small Greek army.

300 Historic Movie with battle between Persia and Greek, released in 2007

The movie is a copy of a graphic comic-book style novel by Frank Miller (with the novel having the same name), and is not a re-telling of the actual battle. It is a heavily dramatized telling of the story, and hence also became controversial. In Iran, the movie was heavily criticized because the movie did not portray the Persian army and its King in a very positive light. The movie was directed by Zack Snyder. The movie was also shot in a novel way, with the characters acting against the background of bluescreens in a Studio (shot in a digital backlot technique). This was seen as very innovative and got a lot of publicity. The score of the movie was also controversial because after release, it started becoming clear that the score seemed to be heavily inspired from other movies, and was eventually acknowledged by Warner Bros. Pictures in an official statement.
The movie is about the conflict between King Leonidas of Sparta and the Persian Emperor Xerxes. Xerxes wants the Greeks to acknowledge their submission to him, something the proud Spartan king refuses to accept. Leonidas now anticipates war, and wants the support of the Council of Sparta and the priesthood (Ephor), but the Ephors do not support him (they have been bought over by the Persians). Without this support, Leonidas sets out with a small force to fight at a superior terrain where we can fight and hold off the numerically many times superior Persians. And hence the battle starts at Thermopylae. where Leonidas refuses riches by Xerxes and promises to make him bleed. The Spartans used their tight formations to defeat the many thrusts by the Persians, but look set for defeat when they are betrayed and a secret path is shown to the Persians.
In Sparta, the Queen is trying to rally support, and eventually manages to get the Council united in battle against the Persians. Eventually, the Spartans are beaten by the sheer force of the Persians, but by this time, the Greeks send in a force that has a much higher number of warriors. With memories of losses against 300 Spartans, the Persian army is low on morale, and eventually lose the final battle, the Battle of Plataea (Wikipedia).

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