LOS ANGELES — It was courageous, sure — bold and gutsy and valorous beyond measure or expectation, a fight that could only delay defeat and not reverse it.
It was one of the most important battles of ancient history and the most famous last stand of all time. It was the story of a group of 300 men who fought a force that outnumbered them by thousands, of soldiers who lived and died by the warrior code, of simple men whose bravery inspired a nation. It is the story of Sparta.
And according to author and filmmaker Frank Miller, whose graphic novel “300” recounts the story of King Leonidas, his small contingent of 300 Spartan warriors and their bloody fight against hundreds of thousands of Persians at the Battle of Thermopylae, that makes it a story of true heroism (see “Most Badass Epic Battle Now On Film In Frank Miller’s ’300’ “ ).
“Heroes aren’t necessarily the people who get the medal at the end of the story, like Luke Skywalker does. Or get the woman, or get cheered at the end of every story or come back to school like Harry Potter,” Miller declared. “Heroes are the people who do things that are right.”
For the Spartans, doing what was right meant holding off the mammoth Persian invasion for as long as they could while Athenian fleets amassed offshore. They made it three spectacular days before finally getting slaughtered, and March 2007’s “300” will depict all the drama, action and heroism as vividly as possible on film.
“There are a lot of good [scenes like] the first shot of the Spartan phalanx charging,” Miller enthused. “But one that is really startling and original is when the Spartans push a pile of corpses the size of a three-story building over on the enemy. It’s pretty startling.”
Miller, whose “Sin City” and “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” comic books redefined noir grittiness, is pretty hard-core himself. Adapted for the big screen by Zack Snyder (“Dawn of the Dead”) and starring Gerard Butler as King Leonidas, “300” is unabashed in its giddiness to portray the true horrors of combat.
But beyond generating remarkable images of ancient violence, Miller is proud to bring “300” to the big screen because he said it is the culmination of a lifetime of interest in the story — which he admitted influenced his career from an early age.
“I was 7 years old when I first came across the story, and it set the course for my entire creative life,” he said. “I was a little boy sitting in the theater, and I turned to my big brother and said, ’Are the good guys losing?’ That affected me at 7 — I imagine any kid [who sees ’300’] is going to be affected as well.”
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