Verus, a slave captured in the Balkans, sees a gladiatorial career in the arena as a preferable alternative to life in a rock quarry.



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Credited cast:
Jamel Aroui ...
Hichem Rostom ...
Dorra Zarrouk ...
Imperial Lady
Narrator (UK version) (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jeffrey Gibson ...
The Poet Martial (voice)
Verus (voice)
Himself - Narrator (voice)


A semi-documentary about the life of Verus, a captive from the Rome's Balkan province of Moesia, who is pressed into the harsh life of a slave in Italian rock quarry. He sees no long term future there, so when the owner of a gladiatorial school comes there to recruit prospective fighters for his school, he purposely picks a fight with another slave to attract attention. Both he and Priscus, the Celtic slave, join the school, become friends, and build careers as renowned gladiators, adored by the crowds in the arena and desired by women of the aristocratic class. The Emporer Titus completes his father Vespasian's pet project, the Colosseum, and wants the inaugural games worthy of his memory, so he specifically selects Verus to fight in them. Written by

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Release Date:

14 March 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Colosseum - Arena des Todes  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


£2,169,571 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (video)


Aspect Ratio:

16: 9 Enhanced
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Did You Know?


According to the property master an entire warehouse of period Roman props was discovered during preproduction. Although some were in rough shape, they proved invaluable to the production. They were from a "James Mason movie" that had been shot fifteen years or seventeen years earlier. He was evidently referring to the miniseries "A.D." from 1985. Other Roman dramas that Mason appeared in were "The Fall of the Roman Empire" in 1964 and "Julius Caesar" in 1953. See more »


Verus: It is said to become a gladiator is to make a pact with death, but for me it was freedom compared with the pit. This way my life would be in my own hands.
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User Reviews

too little docu in this docu-drama
28 June 2008 | by (Herzlya, Israel) – See all my reviews

There is too little documentary value in this docu-drama, and frankly speaking I do not exactly know what the BBC invested so much in it. it may have been for rating reasons at the time of the release of the 'Gladiator' big studios movie, I am just speculating. The film focuses on the history of a gladiator by the time the Colosseum was built we learn a few new facts about the daily life and training methods of the gladiators and the organization of the fights, but the documentary value is too diluted and the fiction part not really too interesting. I found confusing the mix of first person story telling and historical comment in the off-screen commentary. Overall a below-average docu-drama.

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