Like many Hollywood movies which are ‘based on a true story,’ 300 (2006) takes its share of artistic liberties in retelling the events of Thermopylae. Less historically accurate than might be wished, and clearly indulging in comic-book style hyperbole, the movie nevertheless entertains and captures the climactic clash between the Greeks and Persians. Here we address just some of the main questions which may arise in the viewers mind regarding the historical authenticity of 300. This article is replete with spoilers – so watch the movie first!
The 1962 classic offers a less action-oriented, and a more historically-rich take on the battle of Thermopylae than does its counterpart “300” from 2006. Doing without the bare torsos, and abundant displays of physiques, the 1962 film takes its time to develop the intra-Greek political storyline prior to the battle. The movie takes multiple artistic liberties, some of which are similar to the 2006 movie and some which differ, and the result is an interesting and compelling contrast, reflecting two different periods in cinema history. Spoiler alert!
Despite its similarities in style to the original “300,” the sequel, “300: Rise of an Empire,” doesn’t stick to the actual historical events to any great extent. Instead, it reinvents large sections of the storyline following the comic book “Xerxes” upon which it is based. The story, as it is told, revolves mostly around the Athenians and their brilliant admiral, Themistocles, whose military strategy and ardent effort to defend Greece from the Persians made him a legend. Taking place both concurrently with and after the events of “300,” “Rise of an Empire” describes the Greek naval campaign to block, and then destroy the Persian fleet as it moves south towards Athens. Spoiler alert!