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Granted the acting in this film from director Rudolph Maté is wooden, on a par with the Trojan Horse and the ships that turned out to the wooden walls of Athens that defeated Xerxes at Salamis. But there is still something substantial to the battle sequences, as when Xerxes sends his Immortals against the Spartans and when the Spartans make a final valiant charge to kill the Persian monarch. The basic political history of the times is covered in the film; Greece was debating whether or not to send soldiers that far north to stop the invaders and the Spartans decided not to send troops until a religious festival was over. Consequently, King Leonidas (Richard Eagan) left with his personal bodyguard of 300 soldiers. There is a trivial romantic subplot involving a young Spartan soldier and the girl he tried to leave behind, as well as an exiled Spartan King, Demaratus (Ivan Triesault) who tries to educate Xerxes (David Farrar) about the worth of these 300 soldiers. In the end, the Spartans are betrayed by a Greek traitor who tells the Persians of a pass through the mountains where they can attack from the rear.Read more ›
The movie takes place on lacation, at a very scenic area, with many extras, performing excellent in man to man combat and chariot combat, too.
The classic phrases "Molon Lave", told by Leonidas to Xerxes and "I tan i epi tas", told by the Spartan mothers to their sons, are told, and explained in the movie.
The armor of the Spartan warriors is the historically accurate one, with the big Greek "L" on the front (standing for "Lacedemoniis" (Spartans in ancient Greek), they wear the red cloaks, (so no Spartan blood would be visible to the enemy). The daggers are of the correct size and not mistaken by the Sariza, and the battle cries are the appropriate ones.
The musical score is by Manos Hadjidakis, capturing the epic history in a bewildering way.
After all the "historical" epic - junk i watched lately, i was pleasantly surprised to watch this marvel that was filmed more than 40 years ago. Well done!
Richard Egan ably leads his men as Leonides the Lion King of Sparta, but somehow does not have the stature as an actor to really captivate our attention, and other actors include Ralph Richardson as Themistocles of Athens, and David Farrar as Xerxes I.
The cinematography by Geoffrey Unger ("2001: A Space Odyssey") is spectacular, and the transfer to DVD excellent with rich reds in the costumes and the deepest of blue seas, and the score by Manos Hadjidakis ("Never on Sunday") is marvelous and adds a lot to the film.
Director Rudolph Mate had a long career as a brilliant cinematographer going back to the silent film era with the 1928 masterpiece "Passion de Jeanne d'Arc" to later films like "Pride of the Yankees", and this was to be his next to last film as a director.
One can learn history even from a Hollywood epic, as I never knew of the existence of Artemisia the Warrior Queen of Halicarnassus, here played by Anne Wakefield.Read more ›