Epic Presentation For Those Who Further Study Filmed Epics
Feb 24, 2014
I was – and still am – one of those viewers who was totally captivated by the cinematic marvel that was director Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300, the tale of a contingent of Spartan soldiers making one, last, futile stand against a horde of invading Persians. In fact, I was a bit surprised how struck by the film I was considering I only thought its graphic inspiration to be mildly interesting. I appreciated what Miller did sans dialogue, weaving a tale plucked from history of warriors doing what they do best; but Snyder’s film added so much more plot, depth, and complexity to a story Miller essentially reduced to a black-and-white (albeit in color) moment in time. That’s what great films do.
Naturally, I’m excited as are many to see that there’s further story coming to such a seminal period in the history of human civilization, so I’m equally jazzed to provide a few humble words on a book celebrating the film’s unique visual style.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
I’m a stickler for trying to avoid any big spoilers, so even though I’ve given you a heads-up with my above statement you can rest assured I won’t be revealing anything about the film’s plot or action sequences. I will say that, if you thrilled at the first, it certainly would appear that the sequel intends to up the ante by venturing much more closely into the world as created and even envisioned by Xerxes, the mortal-turned-god who presided over the Persians. Also, I’m divulge that the book was prepared with the same limited chromatic style common to the film it obviously represents; while there are plenty of photographs that represent specific moments from the motion picture, there’s also a wide variety of sketches and drawings detailing conception to presentation.
To my delight, I also found a nice sprinkling of either lines of dialogue that might be spoken in the film appearing as quotes, but – more likely – these sentences harken back to other Greek works that explore the characters and events detailed in the film. I’ve no doubt these lines – if they’re not dialogue – were certainly ones consulted by Frank Miller in the act of researching which real-life figures he intended to include in his story; as a lover of quality quotes, there are some terrific ones here. The book furthermore details the greater ‘who, what, where, when, why’ in various sections – i.e. the Corinth Council, Athens, the Battle of Artemisium, etc. – peppering each chapter with plot points that correspond (no doubt) to what’ll be some big action up on the silver screen.
There’s a nice forward from the director Noam Murro, wherein he basically talks about what a daunting challenge he undertook at Snyder’s request … but I’d imagine the obstacles he faced were nothing like what the Spartans did in legitimate history. You’ll pardon my wry reflection, but isn’t it a bit ironic what we find challenging today is staging big moments from history instead of the actual history itself? I know I see things that way. Snyder’s afterward, by comparison, is actually a bit disappointing, reading and sounding more like the Academy Awards speech he probably wants to give. I don’t mean for that to sound as insulting as it probably will, but – as they say – it is what it is, and I’m not inclined to change it now.
Seriously though, this is one very nice book.
300 – RISE OF AN EMPIRE: THE ART OF THE FILM (2013) is published by Titan Books. The book is written by Peter Aperlo with a forward by (director) Noam Murro and an afterward by (producer) Zack Snyder. This coffee-table style edition is available with a cover price of $34.95 (U.S.).
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE. At this point, there’s no way for any of us to know whether or not the film, 300 – RISE OF AN EMPIRE, will approach the sheer awesomeness of its inspiration, but, if the book is any indication, it certainly appears as if it’ll bring the same kind of epic-scope to storytelling for viewers. Readers of the book won’t be entirely spoiled on the plot, I suspect, but – if it’s spoilers you’re looking for – then, naturally, they’re in here. What the volume does best is capture this latest chapter of cinematic big-budget effects particularly well. It’s a grand companion to those wanting to know more about the behind-the-scenes efforts required to bring it all to big, glorious, blood life.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Titan Books provided me with a reading copy of 300 – RISE OF AN EMPIRE: THE ART OF THE FILM by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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