The 300 Spartans (1962)
A Slow Death for 300
In 480 B.C. Persian King Xerxes (David Farrar) and his army of thousands is marching across Europe, destroying all who would oppose him as Xerxes seeks to become ruler of the entire world. But in his way is Spartan King Leonidas (Richard Egan) who with just 300 men at his command sets about holding of Xerxes and his large army at Thermopylae so that reinforcements will have time to arrive from the other Grecian states.
I wasn't that impressed by the more recent "300" as it came across as all look with little substance but because of that movie I am not that impressed with "The 300 Spartans" the 1962 movie based on the same story of Leonidas and his 300. It makes me wonder what I would have thought of "The 300 Spartans" if I hadn't seen the soaked in CGI "300" first as in some ways it is an impressive movie but it is also painfully slow and even more so when you can't get the powerful performance of Gerard Butler in "300" out of your head.
Anyway "The 300 Spartans" is very typical of its era and the sword and sandal genre as such it is at times an impressive production. The opening scenes which sees one legion of men after another march across the sand infront of Xerxes has that old fashioned sense of scale thanks to the large numbers of extras which would have been used to create that scene. It is clearly aiming for epic and at times it gets reasonably close when it comes to the look with some equally impressive studio sets as well. In truth I would rather watch something like this as it is an impressive production rather than something which is clever use of CGI to create a "faux" epic look.
But the trouble is that despite having an epic look when it comes to what actually goes on it is sadly painfully slow with the script writers having gone down the route where everyone speaks as if they were in a Shakespearean play with dialogue which is long winded, unnatural and frankly dull. But it is not just the dialogue which makes it laborious as so does the acting which also goes down that Shakespearean route rather than going for power and energy. And that more than anything is what it is lacking from "The 300 Spartans" as it makes it hard to believe that Richard Egan as Leonidas has the power or authority to lead the 300 has he waffles on with the other characters.
What this all boils down to is that watching "The 300 Spartans" now is sadly a disappointing experience as whilst the production is impressive the lack of power and the laborious dialogue and acting makes it hard work although admittedly very typical of its era. Ironically it makes "The 300 Spartans" very similar to "300" as the look ends up being the most impressive thing about both movies.
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