Thursday, 15 March 2012

Time Machine: Research into Presentation and Essay

I'll be researching into the film '300' by Frank Miller and, consequently, the comic book of the same name and author. I'll be looking into the film's and the comics' art style and what influenced them. I'll also look into the idea of Classical Greek idealism n terms of 'perfect, god-like bodies' and how that, along with the Modern Age of Comic Books, has influenced the 300 saga, too.


DiLullo T, Snyder Z, Davis V (2006) 300: The Art of the Film, Milwaukee, Dark Horse Books.

Beaty B (2007) Unpopular Culture: Transforming the European Comic Book in the 1990s, Toronto, University of Toronto Press.

Farrokh, K (<Date Unavailable>) The 300 Movie: Separating Fact from Fiction,

Miller, G(<Date Unavailable>) Inside ‘300’,


“The Phrase “three hundred Spartans” evokes not only the ancient battle of Thermopylae, but also the larger idea of fighting for freedom against all odds.” (Foreword, Par. 1) Conveys the idea of freedom through film.

“The Script is not an attempt at a typical Hollywood fashion to recreate the past as a costume drama. Instead it is based on Frank Miller’s (of Sin City fame) comic-book graphics and captions… but with deference made to the tastes of contemporary popular culture”

The overall atmosphere of the film itself—heroically proportioned, muscular soldiers, virtual reality sets, inky, de-saturated backdrops and CG landscapes.

“This Greece was wholly created—a heavily stylized interpretation of the landscape based on myth, rather than reality.

“Using Miller’s 300 graphic novel as his template for story, character and visual design…”

“2D blood needs to be designed and rendered in a way that audiences can clearly identify what they’re seeing is a deliberate exercise in style, rather than a mistake.”

Stylistic blood is a common theme throughout the film. Made to look illustrated and not real.

Dark skies to enhance dramatic effect. “Our skies are created using a blend of photographic and watercolor elements, giving the backgrounds a unique textured feel without being entirely painted.” P. 23

“When miller focuses on backgrounds he keeps representation quite graphic, using broad areas of light and shadow to define shapes…”

Larger-than life monsters add exotic flair to the movie implemented from Frank Miller’s comic. They make for an impressive cinematic impact.

Large-scale animals like elephants enhance the concept of the creature being alien to the Spartan army. Stories passed down through generations?

The art form prominent in Greek culture heavily influences today’s comic’s depicted perfectly formed bodies of main characters, heroes and heroines. This style makes its way into the film by revealing clothing. EG: Queen’s robe, Spartans in nothing but loin cloth-type armor. Reveals and shows off god-like figures.

“Unpopular Culture” by Bart Beaty:

“Sally Everett suggests that ‘avant-garde art affronts the sensibilities of the popular culture by showing distorted images in unnatural colors.’” Beaty, 2007

Because the techniques used in the film such as an unreal and CG generated world and an unrealistic and unnatural color palette, mostly consisting of de-saturated browns, reds and blues, the film gained some attention from its new avant-garde style, differentiating itself from other films of its kind.

Likewise, the various superhero comic books prominent in the 1990s by the likes of DC and Marvel used vibrant, bright colors whereas 300, created by a different comic book company entirely, used these de-saturated colors.

“Dr. Kaveh Farrokh-The 300 Movie: Separating Fact from Fiction”

The producers of the movie (as well as the actors) are honest in stating that they did not consult primary historical sources. The writer of the comic book appears to have relied on the writings of Greek historian Herodotus, whose works, though valuable, inevitably contain an element of bias, as do any historical works from any culture.”

Explains that the artists and creators of the movie admit they didn’t rely on facts. They relied on story passed down through ancient history by the Greeks themselves, hence the larger-than-life animals and monsters that were told to be monsters.

“Hollywood’s is intent on conveying a certain “image” of the Classics. Perhaps there is a desire to “Nordify” ancient Greece just as there is a desire to “Orientalize” the ancient Iranians. At least the portrait of King Leonidas in the movie was consistent with the depictions of ancient Greeks as seen in the vases of Classical Greece.”

The portrayal of Persians was not 100% accurate. Hollywood seemed to be catering more to a ‘dumbed-down’ audience. Perhaps this was a stab at a hint of racism? Is it white superiority? The portrayal of the messenger, the emissary sent to talk with Leonidas and other Persians were also played by black actors whereas there are of course no black actors in the Spartan army. Perhaps this is, once again, the filmmakers drawing from the ancient tellings of Herodotus who didn’t know much about other races beyond their own.

Notes on the Modern Age of Comic Books

The modern age of comic books is widely considered to be the period of time from the mid-1980s through until present day where the stories of comics became a lot darker, their art style grainier and their character more complex in mind and personality. More and more comic book companies came out from hiding and gained more publicity. Dark Horse Comics’ ‘300’ was one of these comic books. Its dark, grainy storyline and art style, the complex personality of its characters and its moral is easily compared with its counterparts about super powered heroes and heroines.

Inside '300' (Gerri Miller)

“With a couple of minor exceptions, the entire film was shot indoors, against a blue screen. Cinematographer Larry Fong devised an efficient method combining overhead and key lighting that made for faster, more efficient shooting — it allowed the perspective to change by turning the simply reversing the lighting…”

With the dream-like backdrops and sets, the blue screening technique was a prominent one throughout the movie. The artificial-looking lighting created not only the effective lighting that was present in the comic book, but also created a constant, well-lit set that enabled the crew to shoot scenes without the hindrance of nighttime or the sun’s natural light waning away or becoming too bright. Green screening was rejected due to technical problems as Watts states during his interview with Miller:

“We have a lot of red in the movie, and sometimes when you have saturated red on a green screen you often have edge problems, where you get a yellow edge. It has to do with the way light travels through film and interacts with the emulsion layers”

“They say that art is never finished, it’s expanded, and there’s definitely a huge element of that in this movie. I’ve done a lot of movies with a lot of shots and a lot of movies with difficult shots but had never done a movie with twice as many shots that were difficult” (Chris Watts, Visual Effects supervisor)

The graphic art team and a large crew of 500 artists had to create a world which was as accurate to Frank Miller’s comic book as possible. They had to incorporate elements that weren’t in his comics, however, but attempted to remain faithful to it. The scene where Leonidas kicks the Persian messenger into an endless pit, for example, had the ‘camera’ view settled overhead the pair in the comic whereas it’s simply view at eye-line in a wide shot during the film.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Tom - make sure you're presentation adheres to the Time Machine 8 (as this will help you shape your material into a suitably 'contextualised' experience).