“Freedom isn’t free at all, that it comes with the highest of costs. The cost of blood. ” These words were spoken by Queen Gorgo, wife of King Leonidas, in the movie 300. She speaks one of the basic philosophies of the Spartan nation, and even though they lived thousands of years ago, their principles still impact America today. Most influential movies are a product of the current events happening at the time, and 300 is not an exception. There was a distinct significance in the way the movie 300, as a movie, was developed.
This is due to the fact that the movie was made in order to relate to the American society and clearly shows the point of view of the pro-war attitude when the fight is for freedom and justice. In this paper, I will examine the social and political environment that led to the production of 300, the significance of the choice of topic and the amount of historical accuracy, and how this movie effectively relates to American society and sends a message. The movie 300 was released on December 9, 2006, and was directed by Zack Snyder.
The movie was made in response to the international turmoil and war-related events, and without those issues in the world, 300 would have not been made nor had the same impact on society. In 2006, America was well into the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, “300” was produced during 2005 as well, so one must look at more than just one year of international events. In the time leading up to the production of 300, the most serious fighting in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars began in 2004, where the insurgency greatly increased.
The two battles of Fallujah were declared the bloodiest battles of the war at that time, in which 122 U. S. soldiers were killed with 1,500 insurgents (The Guardian). The Taliban in Afghanistan regained power and attacked, causing American causalities. In America, people were still debating whether or not the war was worth the cost. Everyone had a view on the subject, and some were able to make such a movie, that would not directly give their opinion, but put their views in an analogic or symbolic way that did not offend their audience.
The producers of 300 showed through the movie that war, though it causes many deaths, can be a precedent to a better future and help in the fight for freedom for all. The America soldiers in the Battles of Fallujah, like the three hundred Spartan soldiers, gave their lives for their cause and belief in freedom. The time of war and conflict in the world, especially the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, produced the movie 300. The choice to release a war movie like 300, with its certain historical inaccuracies, in 2006 was no mistake.
There was a distinct significance in producing the movie 300, and that was to assert a point of view to the audience, while entertaining. The writer of the movie, Frank Miller, said “The inaccuracies, almost all of them, are intentional. I took those chest plates and leather skirts off of them for a reason…I knocked their helmets off a fair amount, partly so you can recognize who the characters are… Another liberty I took was, they all had plumes, but I only gave a plume to Leonidas, to make him stand out and identify him as a king… (NPR: National Public Radio)This quote explains that the historical inaccuracies in 300 were for a reason, which helped develop the message of the movie and to develop empathy towards the Spartan soldiers, and therefore the movie benefitted from the historical inaccuracies and was more entertaining. The audience connected emotionally to each individual character in the movie because of the decision to make the costume historically inaccurate, and that helped send the message and the metaphors of the movie more clearly. Even the inaccuracies of the Persian army were made for a reason.
In order for the audience to completely side with the Spartans, not only was the movie told from a Spartan soldier’s view, but the Persians were also seen as monstrous and evil. When the Spartans walked into a deserted village and only one boy survived long enough to tell them what happened, they saw that all the villagers had been killed and made into a tree. This act was seen as unspeakable and horrendous. However, when the Spartans made a wall from the dead Persians and enemy soldiers, it was not seen as evil, but more of a revenge and war tactic.
In the Histories of Herodotus, the Persians were not actually portrayed as evil or monstrous creatures, but rather as another normal, reasonable empire who actually debated whether or not to try to take over the Greeks, and had decent reasons (in their view) for conquering. The audience sympathized and sided with the Spartans from the way that the Persians were portrayed, although it was historically inaccurate. The historical inaccuracies were made in response to the political and social environment of America, and put into the movie in order to develop the message.
The message of the movie 300 is a powerful one that not many Americans are willing to hear. The movie shows that war, though it causes many deaths, can be a precedent to a better future and help in the fight for freedom for all. Some do not want to believe that there is any reason for going into this current war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but America is fighting for freedom. Freedom, not just for America from the threat of terrorism, but the freedom for the innocent people and children in the Middle East from the hold of the terrorist groups and human right violations.
The movie 300 is a way to show this point of view by hinting at it and using the movie as a metaphor or allusion to our current situation. If one was to simply state their opinion and try to give reasons why, people who do not agree would not listen to the argument. By making the movie, the audience could be detached enough to enjoy and watch the entire movie without their personal opinions getting in their way, and possibly think about the meaning of the movie and not become defensive. “300” also shows the type of hero that the majority of society does not think about or depict in films, and how they are equally important.
Most heroes seen in movies, like Harry Potter, end up succeeded in their endeavors and are cheered on by admirers. The 300 Spartans end up dying and failing in their goal, but that does not mean that they were not heroic; in fact, they are even more heroic for the fact that they invited death and were proud to die for freedom. America’s soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are definitely that type of hero, because they are fighting for a cause, and are willing to die for that cause, which so many of them have.
Although many people were against the war in 2005 and 2006, it was due to the part that they may have forgotten the true goal of the war, and the price of freedom. Nevertheless, the movie 300 clearly shows that the true heroism comes from fighting for a righteous cause, like freedom, and to be willing to die for it, even though that means you will not see the finished product of your work. This heroic message in 300 was a product of the social and political environment of America, and the majority of the views of the war against terrorism.
Unfortunately, Queen Gorgo, in the movie 300, was correct in saying that freedom is not free, but requires the cost of blood. The Spartans’ truly believed this, and although the majority of Americans do not want to hear or believe it, it is still true today. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are devastating and have taken too many innocent lives on both sides. However, there are still valid reasons why America entered this war, and 300 reminds us why. Not only is the ilitary fighting to secure freedom and safety in America, but they are also fighting to free the innocent people living in the Middle East under terrorist groups’ rule. Since this was a very touchy issue in 2006 and still is today, “300” was created in order to present this opinion metaphorically, so they did not openly oppose some of its audience’s views. The movie 300 was created to show the opinion that although there have been many deaths and the war may seem pointless, the ultimate sacrifices given by our troops will lead to a better future.