The 300 Spartans - 1961
Directed by Rudy Mate
This 1961 Epic was Hollywood's first attempt at recreating the Battle of Thermopylae. This version is supposedly what influenced Frank Miller to make his graphic novel. Though this telling is not without its own undertones of propaganda (in this case Cold War hyperbole as opposed to War on Terror rhetoric), this film suffers far less inaccuracies. It acknowledges the efforts of other Greeks such as the Athenians and Thespians and at least depicts the Persians as humans, and Caucasians at that.
Color, 1 hour 48 minutes, English
The Persians march through northern Greece. The movie explains, "King Xerxes of Persia set in motion his enormous slave empire to crush the small group of independent Greek states - the only stronghold of freedom still remaining in the then known world."
King Xerxes (David Farrar) reviews his troops and reflects, "My father's dream: one world, one master. But at Marathon ten years ago he sent a mere wave. I am leading an ocean!" No mention is made of the burning of Sardis by the Greeks that had provoked his father in the first place.
King Leonidas (Richard Egan) udders the words that have made many an arm chair general giggle like a little school girl, "then we shall fight in the shade..."
In a scene that likely made the cut of the sensationalist movie trailers typical of the sixties, slave girls of the exotic east perform their hypnotic dances.
Hydarnes (Donald Houston) leads a contingent of Immortals with the aide of a treacherous Greek goat herder on a path that will allow them to envelop the Spartans.
Xerxes is finally able to get his victory, but at a huge cost that would prove to cost him the war. The only consolation was his burning of an empty Athens (not depicted in the film).
The last stand of the 300.
Persian Archers finish the job at the behest of Xerxes who does not want to waste anymore men.
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