I finally watched it and I know you are dying for me to tell you all about those guys with the massive abs (I have these too, just a bit bigger). The movie was good fun if one let historic and presentation stuff slide. A couple of the visuals were great. Now let me bombard you with my views.
“What are we fighting for?”
First of all my main concern is what the movie would make of the Spartan war machine. Nazi propaganda and war lovers tried to cite them as their glorious, bloodthirsty forerunners. The point is that Spartan prowess served freedom, with emphasis on serve. The killing of messengers, cruelty for its own sake and the “we’ve been exchanging civilisations all day” playing after Huntington’s self-realised prophecy is as far from Spartan spirit as could be. I was glad the movie mentioned freedom as the ideal of the war (7x) though it had clearly a back seat in the presentation, except perhaps in the end.
“Dude, Sparta is totally voting for Bush”
Nope. The Spartan training system empowered the simple citizens, reducing the power the aristocrats held till then and making Sparta the freest Greek city up to the Solon/Cleisthenes Law Systems in Athens, which were a democratic step forward. The battle of Thermopylae is considered a landmark because of its symbolism; free people choosing to die for an ideal against the odds. Otherwise it’s yet another battle.
“300 heroes? Nope, more”
A modest sized army of the Greek city-states who chose to fight went to Thermopylae (Hot Gates ) to delay the vastly superior in number enemy forces. When betrayed and encircled, the rest of the army was ordered to retreat, while 300 of the Spartans stayed together with 700 Thespians. These 700 were hot stuff (+servants, slaves etc. IIRC).
“His arm has grown long indeed”
I did catch some instances of Lord of the Rings segueing into 300: the rhino/oliphants, the ghoulish Immortals and the ogre warrior. Ephialtes (with correct pronunciation, woo!) had a clear case of gollum. Trivia: Ephialtes means nowadays nightmare in Greek. I have missed the parts in Herodotus where Xerxes is described as a transvestite.
Now, for Star Wars! The ephors weren’t really clones of Senator/Emperor Palpatine in disguise. Otherwise they’d know Force Grip. If the Persian cavalry looked like Darth Vader from the behind, we’d all be Sith now.
“What’s your price, bitch?”
I don’t know who did the ephors. They wielded power greater than kings but they were elected annually and the whole Spartans keeping Spartans from the war plot was bunk. We are talking about the same war where the “soft” Athenians sacrificed Athens. Being bribed with Persian gold would be a dead giveaway in Sparta, where the coins were designed to be heavy.
“Won’t somebody please think of the children?”
I lol’ed there. Anyway, the women in Sparta had it good for the times. If a Spartan accused a woman of adultery, they’d just laugh. Damn Romans and their ad hominem attacks.
“I’ll sue Jesus on copyright”
We all saw Leonidas raising his hands to die in a Crucifix posture, nailed by the arrows. Also Hell is quite an anachronism there; Hades wasn’t hell. Get off my lawn!
Trivia edit: Thermopylae has nowadays been so eroded by the water that it’s a few kilometres/miles long. The place boggled my young mind when I first saw it.