About The Production
Mysterious. Fierce. Formidable. Spartans are among the most enigmatic cultures in history. Taught never to retreat, never to surrender, they are the perfect warriors. "The Spartans remain a mystery to everybody," says Frank Miller, who wrote the graphic novel 300 which inspired the film. "They are arguably unique in that they are completely a battle culture, absolutely dedicated to warfare. They have a code of honor on what it means to be Spartan, and out of that arises a heroic class like the world has never seen before."
Co-writer/director Zack Snyder adds, "Spartans live for battle. They love it," he says. "They fight as one, creating a phalanx in which each warrior's shield protects the man beside him. It's an awesome and intimidating sight, even for the masses of Persians. Though the Spartans face insurmountable odds in terms of numbers, a true Spartan warrior is always willing to die for freedom--they consider it a 'beautiful death.' They define themselves by sacrifice and freedom."
Frank Miller first encountered the Spartans when he saw the film "The 300 Spartans" as a kid. He remembers, "I was quite shaken and inspired by it because it taught me that heroes aren't the people who necessarily get a medal at the end of the story, that heroes are people who do what is right because it is right, even making the ultimate sacrifice to do it. All my life I wanted to tell this story because it's the best story I've ever encountered. And, eventually, I gained the skills as a cartoonist, such that I thought I could finally handle it."
To illustrate 300, Miller synthesized his substantial research--which took him to the cliffs of Thermopylae itself--with the trademark style he brought to such legendary graphic works as Sin City and The Dark Knight Returns. He pared down the Spartans' uniform (roughly half his body weight in uniform and weapons) down to its most essential and symbolic features and peppered the story of the historic 480 B.C. battle of Thermopylae with elements of prior and subsequent clashes between Xerxes and the Greeks.
"Frank took an actual event and turned it into mythology, as opposed to taking a mythological event and turning it into reality," says Snyder, who blended Miller's bold vision with his own to make the feature film. "That's the refreshing thing about it. He wanted to get at the essence, as opposed to the reality, of what a Spartan is. If you go to Thermopylae, the statue of Leonidas is a nude; he's got a shield and spear and a helmet and that's it. Frank went to Thermopylae and I'm sure he saw that and went, 'Okay, this is how we have to do it.'"
Walking through the underbrush of Thermopylae had a profound effect on Miller. "It's a place where great and glorious things happened," he describes. "We are talking about the crucible, the epicenter of the battle for everything that we have, for everything that is Western civilization. There's a reason why we are as free as we are, and a lot of it begins with the story of 300 young men holding a very narrow pass long enough to inspire the rest of Greece."
300 became a best seller and won Miller numerous industry awards. "The story sold itself," he comments. "I just did my best to do justice to a great moment in history. It was very important to streamline the appearance of characters to make them more dynamic and to lose the sense of this being an old story. It's not an old story; it's an eternal story."
The book gained a legion of fans, counting among them the co-writer/director and producers of the feature film. "The beautiful thing about Frank's book, and about any of Frank's work, is the prose that goes along with his drawings," notes Snyder. "It is not just an illustration; there is this poetry. The way that he structures the prose is as important as the drawings to me. I wanted to think of a way to preserve and honor his prose, as well as his imagery i
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