Who is the Intended Audience for this Film? How Can You Tell?
The movie "300" is based on an ancient war between Spartans and Persians. From the beginning of the movie till the end, it seems to target young people. This suggestion is proved by various aspects within the movie.
At the beginning of the movie, when king Leonidus was a young boy, the theme of courage is emphasized. The young king was initiated to become a man by being taken to the wilderness to defend himself against a wolf. Despite his young age, the society expected no signs of fear, which would deny the country victory in wars. The young king was able to kill the beast and thus was ready to become the king of Sparta. Physical exercises that characterized the lives of men in the movie underscored the importance of heroism, which could only be achieved through conquest. Since conquest could not be achieved by the weak, physical strength was important in the lives of men. Emphasis put on the themes of heroism and masculinity is likely to target young people who are focused on their own growth. The lives of young people are adventurous and full of energy. The focus of the movie on heroism and physical confrontation might reflect aspirations of the young people. Therefore, young people are more likely to find the movie interesting than people within other age brackets.
The theme of serving one's country is portrayed to be more important than other aspects of men's lives in the movie. For instance, king Leonidus was furious when the council did not agree to send Spartan warriors to fight Persians. The quest to achieve the honor of defending his country compelled him to take a suicidal mission of confronting Persian army with only 300 soldiers. Sacrifice for one's country is emphasized in the movie to a point of relegating the importance of one's family. The king knew that it was likely that he would not come back to his family after the battle. However, the need to defend honor for his country was so strong that he had to undertake the mission irrespective of whether he would survive or not. Defense of any country depends on young people who are energetic and strong. Therefore, enormous emphasis placed on the themes of honor, sacrifice, and courage portrays movie's ability to relate to the young people.
In what Ways does the Filmmaker Try to Attract and Please the Widest Possible Audience with this Film?
The filmmaker has been able to please and attract a wide range of audience though various means. First, the filmmaker portrays Persians as aggressors who seek to destroy and colonize Sparta. Persians are portrayed to be stronger compared to wariors of Sparta. The strength of Persia is demonstrated by its powerful conquests. The messenger who is sent to compel Spartans to plead allegiance to the king of Persia comes carrying skulls of fallen kings who had been ousted by Persians. This is both a threat and a sign of might. On the other hand, Sparta is portrayed small and thus the victim of Persia's aggression. Generally, the majority of people like fairness and justice. By portraying Sparta as a victim of tyrannical Persia, a wide range of audience is likely to agree with a plot and the outcome of the movie since Sparta is seen to be fighting for its survival and right for self-governance.
Another means by which the filmmaker strives to please the widest range of audience is by using only 300 Spartans to confront the larger Persian army. By doing this, he creates an apprehension in the minds of viewers as to the outcome of such an encounter. This is an extension of portraying Spartans as victims, who go out of their way to defend their kingdom. Generally, people are likely to be merciful to the weak. Therefore, majority of the audience who are eager to know the outcome of confrontation are likely to support the Spartans who are victims.
The filmmaker, in his attempt to widen his scope of target audience, portrays women to be pivotal in the lives of Sparta. Unlike other ancient kingdoms where women had little say, Sparta valued its women. The difference between Sparta and other kingdoms is evident when the Persian messenger comes to Sparta. The filmmaker uses Queen Gorgo to emphasize a special role played by women in Sparta. The queen talks to the messenger in the presence of the king, which is unacceptable for Persians. When the messenger demands to know why women in Sparta talk before men, the queen tells him that Spartan women talk because they give birth to real men. Moreover, before the king throws Persian messenger into the well, he seeks approval from the queen who nods her head in approval. Upon her nodding, the king and his soldiers throw messengers into the well. By portraying women as important in the daily lives of Spartans, filmmakers can attract more women to watch and enjoy the movie. A movie that relegates the role of women is likely to get scorned by women who may not want to watch it.
To compound filmmaker's efforts to attract the widest possible audience, he reduced homosexual undertones that were likely to occur due to ancient Greeks' indulgence on homosexuality. Homosexuality was rampant in ancient Greece. Since the entire movie revolves around men who are half naked, the audience who may be aware of sexual orientation of ancient Greeks is likely to interpret it as a promotion of homosexuality. Since the majority of people are heterosexual, the filmmaker used several instances to dispel such undertones, which would prevent heterosexuals from buying and watching the movie. One such instance is the use of extended exposure of half naked oracle. When Persians meet the priest of Sparta to persuade him not to allow Sparta to go to war, they promise him gold and oracles, who will be delivered to him daily once Sparta submits to Persia. The promise of girls who act as oracles to the priest emphasizes that men are interested in women to a point of selling out their country's loyalty. Prolonged scenes of sexual intimacy between the king and the queen after king's visit to the oracle also demostrate heterosexual nature of Spartan society.
What Did You Learn about a Specific Period in History from this Movie? Be Specific.
From the movie, I learnt that historical period that movie illustrates was characterized by conflicts between various Greek city states and Persian Empire. Another lesson from the movie is that different city states in Greece were fragmented and unwilling to confront Persian kingdom, which conquered them. Greeks did not have the courage to resist the conquest by Persian empire until Spartans decided to resist the tyrannical rule. The strength and might of Persian kingdom were feared by many who were reluctant to attack the kingdom, despite having the right to self-defense. The might of Persian kingdom is demonstrated by the Arcadians. The Arcadians only joined resistance struggle when they heard that Sparta was going to war with Persia. When some men, both Spartans and Arcadians go on a high ground to scout on Persians, the sight of Persians scares the Arcadian. Large Persian army scares the Arcadians, who later depart after hunchbacked Ephialtes betrays Spartans to Persians.
Do you think that this film is more exciting and worthwhile for history students than for the general movie-going audience? Why? Explain.
The movie is not more exciting to history students than to the general public. The movie is a blockbuster, which means that it is popular among a wide range of different audiences, not only among history students. History students may learn some things from the movie, but the movie is also exciting to a wider range of audience than just to history students. The reason why this movie is a blockbuster, which attracts a large varied audience is because it uses special effects. From the beginning, the use of special effects is evident. For example, when the messenger from Persia disagrees with king Leonidus, he is being kicked into a well. To emphasize the kick, the film shows the scene in slow motion.
Historical setting of the movie is focused on ancient history. During that time, there was little technology, and one would expect the movie to be epic in all its aspects. However, that was likely to discourage contemporary viewers from watching the movie since people are used to movies that are made using advanced technology. Therefore, the filmmaker has utilized special effects to attract viewerss of contemporary generation. The movie is interesting to the general public because apart from historical setting when Spartans and Persians fought, there are a few historical facts outlined by the movie. Actually, the largest part of evets in the movie happen on the battlefield where Spartans fight with Persians. Special effects, such as slow motion during contact between the two warring sides, work to improve the entertainment aspect of the movie. Therefore, the movie is more of an entertainment film than a historical movie. This means that general audience as well as history students can enjoy the movie with almost equal satisfaction.