It is spring, 480 BC Persian King Xerxes, continuing his fathers, Darius, master plan to conquer the Hellenic city-states, arrives in Hellas. The previous Persian invasion and diplomatic attempts have already turned most northern Hellas tribes and states to the Persian side. But the people of Athens and Sparta, the largest Hellenic powers at the time, feel quite insulted by the Persian emissaries requesting their surrender to Xerxes and slay them. In Sparta, King Leonidas consults the local oracle, which gives two options: either a spartan king will have to be sacrificed or Sparta will be burned to the ground.
A year earlier (481, BC) a panhellenic consortium of all southern city-states have already recognized the superiority of the spartan army (the best organized and trained army at the time) and have announced King Leonidas supreme commander of the combined Hellenic army. It is then decided that a small force should block Xerxes' way to southern Hellas in the Thermopylae passage.This passage was at that time 12 meters wide.The great historian Herodotus, possibly exaggerating, states that there were 1700000 Persians(their true number could be anywhere around 100000 and 1000000) against 7000 Hellenic hoplites and slaves, including the 300 men of the spartan king elite guard.
King Xerxes waited for 4 days for the Hellenes to be frightened and eventually surrender and was quite astonished by his opponents complete apathy who were following their daily program practicing and making their hair! After that Xerxes tried to convince Leonidas to drop weapons, give up his position, kneel before him and live on as a local governor under Xerxes. King Leonidas replied "molon lave", which means "Come and get them". Then the 3 days battle begun with the 300 Spartans, and 700 thespians (the other Hellenes where sent by Leonidas to protect passages to their flanks) slaying thousands of Persians with minimal losses.
The whole Persian campaign would have fail if there wasn't Efialtes who showed Xerxes a secret passage to the Hellenic flanks. After a final battle lead by king Xerxes himself the Hellenic force was completely slain and their heroism and glory was written forever in history. From the beginning of the battle the Hellenes buried their dead in the spot they fell dead. After the battle signs where made for the dead of each Hellenic faction. For the pelloponisians generally (including the 300 Spartans) the sign reads(free translation) 'In this place 4000 thousand pelloponisians fought 30 millions), for the 300 Spartans(lakaedaemonians) especially the sign reads(free translation) 'Oh foreigner tell the lakaedaemonians that we are buried here obeying their laws' meaning that they never hesitated and never retreated from the enemy. The impact of the battle was enormous for both sides. The Persians' morale dropped to zero and the Hellenes lost their fear for the Persian conqueror and organized their defense. After several successful battles the Hellenes ultimately defeated the Persian army and repelled their invasion in the Battle of plataea in 479 BC.
Video: Widescreen 16x9, 2.35:1, Color (ish)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Languages: French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
2 Disc Set
Audio Commentary with director Zack Snyder, writer Kurt Johnstad and director of photography Larry Fong
Featurette: The 300- Fact or Fiction?
Who Were The Spartans
Frank Miller Tapes
Webisodes: Behind the Scenes Peeks