Outstanding war adventure
Ron | 09/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The 300 Spartans is an adventure-filled, exciting, and accurate retelling of the last stand of Spartan King Leonidas and his bodyguard of 300 men against the whole Ancient Persian army.
I love to read about history and had been reading about the Ancient Greek wars when I found out about this movie. By the time we had rented it, I knew the story of Thermopylae well and the battle scenes were what you would think an ancient battle would look like.
As I have said above, the battle scenes are excellent and the main actors, Richard Egan (as King Leonidas of Sparta) and Ralph Richardson (as Themistocles, an Athenian statesman and naval leader), play their parts well. Like many movies of its time, an extra character is added, the "301st Spartan," and the actor is convincing as a typical Spartan soldier who would not stay behind when his friends were in danger.
David Farrar plays the glory-seeking, cruel King of Persia, Xerxes, whose armies threaten all of Greece. Some of the Greek leaders do not want to go to the aid of other city-states, preferring to defend their own, but Themistocles convinces several other states to band together with Athens. King Leonidas cannot convince the Spartan statesmen to send their army north immediately to fight Xerxes, so he leads his own bodyguard, the "best of the best" of his army, to the Thermopylae Pass.
The 301st man of Leonidas' bodyguard, Phyllon (Barry Coe), has just been presented with his shield and he is planning on marrying when Leonidas tells him that he cannot come along. The reason is that Phyllon's father is a traitor serving Xerxes and Leonidas cannot have a man with such connections along with his troops.
After the 300 march out, Phyllon, feeling ashamed, contemplates suicide. Ellis (Diane Baker), his love interest, persuades him not to and to follow the 300. With Ellis accompanying him, Phyllon follows just out of sight until they reach Thermopylae.
When Leonidas learns that Xerxes has set up his extremely large camp across the bay from Thermopylae, he takes the best swimmers of the 300 on a commando-like raid and burns the camp. They were unable to kill Xerxes, as he was visiting the queen (Anne Wakefield) of one of Persia's allies. They escape, but one of the Spartan officers is severely wounded by the Persians. Phyllon has gone along with the raiders, undetected, and he rescues the officer. When they get back to camp, Leonidas admonishes Phyllon for following the 300 but acknowledges his courage, saying that the only punishment is to stay.
King Xerxes, flying into a rage, orders all of his army's slaves killed, as he vows that he will take new ones from Greece. Then, he sends his troops to Thermopylae. The Greeks (other Greek soldiers have reinforced Leonidas) hold out, and Xerxes becomes even angrier. After his next assaults fail, Xerxes sends in his bodyguard, the Immortals, to attack the Greeks. The 300 and their allies even defeat them!
The Persian soldiers and their allies, feeling desperate, panic. Xerxes becomes worried about his own safety, and the queen of his ally convinces him to go back to Persia. As the massive army prepares to return home, a Greek goatherd arrives in the camp and tells Xerxes and his generals of a secret path. Ellis, still with the 300, had encountered the man in the mountains and warns Leonidas. Knowing that this may lead to disaster, Leonidas orders the allied Greek soldiers-along with Phyllon and Ellis-to leave Thermopylae. The Immortals who have taken the secret path attack them, but they manage to escape.
The Persian armies taking the main route surround the 300, and the battle sequence that follows is splendid. If you want to know what happens, see the movie!!! If you see it, you will never forget it!
3 1/2 Stars
Ron | Jersey | 01/09/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Good little 60's mini epic. While not as grand as El Cid or Spartacus, this is a decent and often under appreciated film. For the younger movie viewer who has seen Frank Miller's 300, you will laugh at the not so bloody battle scenes and special effects. But for the times, it was as bloody as they would allow and this is the time of no CGI. This version of 300 is more historically accurate than the modern film, though a proper Greek phalanx would be a tight line of men many rows deep. I enjoy this little epic despite the flaws."