Book Review: 300: Rise of An Empire: The Art of the Film by Peter Aperlo

The book tells the film's story through a presentation of its visual elements.
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Peter Aperlo takes readers inside the making of Noam Murro's 300: Rise of an Empire, which expands upon Zack Snyder's 300 in what is being called an “equal” by the filmmakers as opposed to a sequel because, as producer Bernie Goldman states in the book, “it's taking place at the same time as the first movie and it amplifies the first movie...It's the same world, but it's a different perspective...and tells a different story.”

Snyder “pretty much thought there could never be a sequel” until Frank Miller, creator of the original 300 graphic novel, approached him with the idea of a story involving Athenain General Themistokles and the Battle of Artemisium, which occurred over the same time as the Battle of Thermopylae. Using Miller's outline, notes, and drawings for his upcoming graphic novel Xerses, Snyder and Kurt Johnstad created the screenplay.

In his Foreword, Murro states they “took the defined and monochromatic palette of 300 and blew it wide-open, creating vastly different looks for each of the five epic sea battles.” He also reveals they “shot for 4 months on green screen in Bulgaria, and [then underwent] 8 months of post-production in order to build in the visual effects.”

The book offers a look at the characters and then proceeds to tell the film's story through its presentation of the visual elements involved in creating the film. On display alongisde the text are an assortment of images of drawings, storyboards, models. There are photos taken during pre-production showing the actors training and sitting for make-up and during production capturing the cast and crewon different sets. One of my favorites is two gentleman decked out all in green (so they can be removed in post) helping Sullivan Stapleton (Themistokles) fall. Some stills reveal the detail and craftsmanship that went into creating the costumes, props, and sets.

Fans of 300: Rise of An Empire and learning about the art of modern-day moviemaking should appreciate Arepelo's The Art of the Film. I enjoyed reading it but I wish all of the artists whose work is on display could have been identified.

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