King Xerxes of Persia marches on Greece with his vast army. Greece’s city states are asquabbling, disunited bunch, but Athens and Sparta lead the way to co-operate against thecommon enemy. King Leonidas of Sparta (Richard Egan) must hold the pass of Thermopylae,but Spartan politics mean he has but 300 men to stand against Xerxes’ thousands. So begins oneof the most famous battles of antiquity.
The battle scenes are entertaining and easy to follow, though hardly eart…-shattering. Theperformances are all stiff with Honour and Duty. Most amusing, however, is the film’s ham-fisted attempt to draw parallels between the past and present. Thus, the “slave army” of Persia isthe Communist Hordes, while Greece (and especially the Spartans) is the USA. We are even toldthat the Spartans died “for their freedom… and ours!” Ooookay. Now, what to make about thepositively Nietzschean portrayal of the Spartans…
A couple of options here: the original mono and a stereo remix. The remix is plagued by theusual problems of this kind of audio: surround everything. Essentially all sound is dividedbetween the speakers, where the division makes sense or not, and this is particularly a problemwith the dialogue. Still, the surround voices aren’t as bad as on some other discs. The soundtrackis very much showing its age, and features a fair bit of distortion, muzziness and buzz.
The picture is in very good shape. There are a couple of grainy shots, but the grain isgenerally very minimal. There is no speckling, and only one or two instances of extremely slightprint damage. The colours are excellent (especially the reds of the Spartans’ cloaks), and theaspect ratio is the original 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Not much: the theatrical trailer, the Spanish trailer, TV spots, and trailers forCleopatra, The Robe and Demetrius and the Gladiators. The menu isbasic.
No classic of its genre, but the hilarious subtext keeps the interest level high.
Special Features List
- Trailers and TV Spots