300: Movie Recap

credit: 300

300, also sometimes referred to as “300 Spartans,” is a war action film released in 2006. It depicted one of the wars in the historical period known as the Greco-Persian wars, particularly, in this film, the Battle of Thermopylae.

The story followed the life of King Leonidas, the King, or later, the then-king of the Greek city-state of Sparta. His life was told in a narration technique by one of Leonidas’ soldiers who survived the Persian attack in the Battle of Thermopylae. Having witnessed everything, he was retelling the story of their former King, his sacrifices, and the victories that he had through managing his army well.

credit: 300

Persia asked for Sparta’s surrender

In the beginning, the viewers were shown how Spartan society “filtered” boys that entered. Infant boys were shown to be inspected meticulously, searching for every possible defect, and if they were found lacking such, they were allowed to live. If the infant was sickly or had severe physical deformities, they were thrown down a mountain to die. Those who lived were trained to be warriors at an early age.

One day, a Persian messenger arrived at King Leonidas’ court to ask for “earth and water,” which was a symbol of surrender for the Persians. According to the Messenger, there would be no bloodshed if they just gave up. Leonidas refused to surrender his kingdom and pushed the messenger down a deep well where there were “earth and water.”

The war

After this implicit declaration of war, Leonidas sought the advice of the Ephors, who were the magistrates of Sparta. According to them, they should build a wall through the Hot Gates to funnel the Persians and take them down very quickly. This will give them tactical superiority over the enemy’s numerical. However, the Ephors were secretly allied with the Persians and advised against the mobilization of the Spartan army.

Leonidas gathered three hundred of the best men in Sparta under the guise of them being just personal bodyguards. They were joined by some Arcadians who wanted to protect their homeland as well.

They began constructing the walls and, as an intimidation factor, used some dead Persian scouts as mortar. Another messenger was sent to Sparta but was told by Stelios, another Spartan soldier, to retreat after chopping his arm off.

Leonidas was with Ephialtes, a person with severe physical deformities who only survived because his parents fled Sparta before giving birth so that he wouldn’t be killed. Ephialtes offered to join the army. However, the leader refused because his physical features did not allow him to even carry just his shield. By not being able to do so, the army wouldn’t be able to recreate the phalanx formation.

The battle began when the Spartans refused to surrender in front of Xerxes, the Persian God-King. The Persians sent wave after wave of soldiers but were easily defeated. They sent a barrage of arrows, but they managed to defend themselves because of their shields. Xerxes also sent some beasts, but they were defeated as well. One scene even showed an elephant falling down the cliff.

Ephialtes, who still had resentment towards the Spartans for the rejection, fled to Persia and offered his services. He showed the enemies the weakness of the Spartan formation in exchange for being in the Persian ranks. The Arcadians fled after knowing this, but not the Spartans. Leonidas asked Dilios to come back and tell the story of their victory.

In the Spartan Council, Queen Gorgo, Leonidas’ wife, pleaded that they should send additional reinforcements to the 300 on the battlefield. A politician, Theron, distracted everyone by threatening to sexually harass the queen. Enrage, Queen Gorgo stabbed Theron, revealing Xerxes coins in his robe. Realizing his treachery, she murdered him completely. Reinforcements were unanimously agreed to be sent.

credit: 300

The final battle

During the third day, the Persians encircled the Spartan army thanks to Ephialtes revealing to them the secret path. A general of Xerxes demanded their surrender (again). Leonidas appeared to kneel. The Persians raised their arms in victory. However, Leonidas was just allowing his body to be a springboard for Stelios to leap and kill the general.

Leonidas shot a spear to the side of Xerxes’ face, which wounded the latter severely. This shook down his “god” composure as it showed him to be a mortal, capable of being injured as well.

Xerxes ordered an attack, and the Spartans fought to the bitter end. They all died in a barrage of arrows.

Dilios ended the narration, and this inspired the Spartans. Soon enough, they mustered an army of a far greater number, ready to battle again.

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