One thing you should know: Gladiator is my favorite movie. I was encouraged at school in Lancaster to love storytelling. This passion came from two inspirational teachers, Peter Sampson and Jim Bates. It was Peter Sampson who taught me English and how to dream. Jim Bates taught us the great Greek and Roman legends of Homer and Virgil. As students, we were totally engrossed by the Punic Wars, the Trojan Wars, and the tales of Hannibal, Achilles, Ajax and Co. The greatest story of all was the Battle of Thermopylae. Here King Leonidas and 300 Spartans resisted Xerxes and his army by diverting them to the Hot Gates pass where they could not use their superior numbers.
Frank Miller (creator of Sin City) wrote 300, a graphic novel version of this incredible story, and the movie version has been a box office hit. I caught it at the Imax Theater in Auckland, New Zealand. The movie theater was packed and nobody moved for the whole 117 minutes. In your face Thermopylae, at last. My conclusion? 300 is Gladiator on steroids. Seventeen years ago we marketed the beer Lion Red in New Zealand as a drink for red blooded men. If Lion Red were a movie, that movie would be 300.