Two days after the movie was released, Iran’s Fars News Agency reported that the Iranian government was not happy about the movie. Apart from that, the world received it with full of excitement. A guy described it as a ‘Marvelously bloody experience’.
It became an earth shattering hit in the box office, receiving numerous awards. My favourite one is from MTV giving them award for best fighting. If they gave this award to any other movie, the public will be outraged and people will swear not to watch MTV ever again. The same year they received award for best visual effect and music.
The movie opens before the violent Battle of Thermopylae, 540 BC, on a mountain top, where a government official holding newborn baby Leonidas on his hand for inspection.
Dilios Speaks: ‘When the boy was born, like all Spartans he was inspected. If it‘d been small, or puny or sickly or misshapen, he would’ve been discarded‘
It is customary in Sparta to check their babies for any kind of deformities, those babies officials decided as unfit will be taken on top of that mountain and thrown down to a ground where wild foxes breed, giving the child to their meal. But if it is proved well built and fit they instruct the father to raise it up, and assign 9000 lot of land.
Kings, just like any other Spartan, goes through rigorous military training along with other men. So does Leonidas. After training, he sat on the throne in 490BC. Throughout the movie, he talks a lot about something called ‘reason’. This was because it was the time when Greece was flourishing with knowledge. He was born and raised receiving the breath of these knowledge.
Herodotus recorded events of this battle in great detail. Though Cicero called him the biggest liar, for us he is one of the greatest historian.
This was the time when Persians were the most powerful in Asia. They were planning to attack Greece for the second time, headed by Xerxes, son of Darius I. Their plan was to bring Greece, the biggest mortal enemy, and her finest warriors, Spartans down to their knees.
In the first Persian invasion to Greece by Xerxes’ father Darius faced with a bitter defeat and a huge loss. He died while preparing the second one when the army was almost ready for war. Xerxes took over the kingdom and continued the plan of invading Greece to fulfill his father’s will. This time he has to face with iron willed Lionidas. He raised the army and headed to north. This was not shown in the movie, but was implied.
Meanwhile in Sparta, by request of Greece, king Lionidas was planning to take his army and meet Xerxes along with the Greek army. Though he talked a lot about ‘reason’, he cannot decide this matter based on reason and logic alone. Spartan Constitution require him to consult Oracle as well. Strangely those days in Sparta, no one is above the law, including kings. So he consult the oracle. She prophesized doom and destruction to him and his army.
That evening he came back to palace and tells his wife that he prefer reason and logic over an advice from a drunken girl; referring to Oracle.
Anyhow on August he marched with an army of 900 men, and 300 spartan warriors to meet Xerxes’ army of 300,000 men. They met in a narrow passage of land called Thermopylae. Imagine a narrow necked glass bottle, and Persian army want to enter the bottle. There is no other way they can get in except from the mouth and passing the neck. Lionidas‘ army was standing on the neck.
On the fifth day Xerxes ordered to attack. Ever seen a lion runs after a herd of deers. The same way Xerxes’ force ran towards Lionidas army and attacked. But the spartan and greek weapons were more powerful, one by one Xerxes solders fell. If they hold their feet that way, soon Xerxes army will defeat.
As they kept standing firm and blocking the only passage that can pass and enter to Greece, a man from greek side betrayed them for wealth and revealed another secret passage to Xerxes where his army can pass. Next day greek army was surrounded by Persian army from all sides just like a dot in the centre of the circle.
Before the dawn broke in, Leonidas saw certain death to his army. He brings more courage and send 900 solders back to home. He said to his Warriors ‘Tonight we dine in hell‘
As the day begins, Xerxes force met with 300 spartan solders who were trained from birth to be warriors. They hold the ground with courage. Xerxes forces was loosing its solders at an alarming rate. After seeing this he called up his special warriors, a heavily armed infantry unit of 10,000 solders. Who are called immortals.
At This time Xerxes send a message to Lionidus asking him to ‘Hand over his arms‘
To this, Lionidas respond ‘Come and take them‘
After that, these 10,000 men met 300 Spartans face to face. Soon the butchery begins in Spartan side. Though Spartans knew they are doomed, they stood with their king and faced the army with boiling blood of rage. The battle continued until the last warrior fell after releasing the last breath into the air filled with dust.
Once the 300 men fell, Xerxes ordered to find Lionidas. When they found his body, Xerxes ordered to cut his head and put it on a stick. As the army moved ahead on horses and on foot, a solder at the front was holding the stick with Lionidas head on it.