Maximus is a powerful Roman general, loved by the people and the aging Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Before his death, the Emperor chooses Maximus to be his heir over his own son, Commodus, and a power struggle leaves Maximus and his family condemned to death. The powerful general is unable to save his family, and his loss of will allows him to get captured and put into the Gladiator games until he dies. The only desire that fuels him now is the chance to rise to the top so that he will be able to look into the eyes of the man who will feel his revenge.Written by
Chris "Morphy" Terry
Russel Crowe's character is often refers to as a Spaniard, that would not have been accurate. At that time people who lived in Hispana were light complected and had red hair. The real Maximus Decimus Meridius was a Gaul which a Germanic tribe found in what would be today's north France. The Gauls were considered to be a fierce race and when the Romans conquered them the men were given the option of fighting in the Army or becoming Gladiators. See more »
In the film, the emperor and crowd put their thumbs up for "live" and down for "kill." In reality, the emperor would to cover his thumb with his four fingers for "live." The gladiator would also live if the emperor yelled the Latin word for "dismissed," or threw a piece of cloth, showing mercy. When he wanted the gladiator to die, he would put his thumb straight out to the side, symbolizing the sword. Studies of Roman artwork suggest that the "thumbs up" gesture was actually an affirmation to proceed with the kill. See more »
Both the Dreamworks & Universal logos are altered to appear gold in color so they match the opening theme of Maximus walking through a wheatfield. See more »
Numerous deleted scenes that were left out of the film were compiled onto the DVD release. All scenes with the exception of the mini-film come with an exclusive Audio Commentoary by Ridley Scott. They are:
A brief scene showing Maximus surveying the cost of the Battle with the Germanians. They are hacked and dying Roman's everywhere.
A brief scene preluding the confrontation of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. It shows Marcus praying to his ancestors for wisdom.
Friends of Proximo try to get him to bet against his own gladiators. We are also introduced to Hagan, the German in this scene.
Proximo tries to reason with Maximus as to not killing his opponents so quickly but to entertain the crowd.
Maximus watches condemmed Christians executed in the arena as they are fed to the lions.
Lucilla, Gracchus and Gaius have an important meeting in Gracchus' house. They discuss the future death of the Roman People as her brother Commodus is selling the grain reserve to pay for the games. They conclude that Commodus must die.
Commodus, dismayed by the re-appearence of Maximus, attacks a bust of his father with a sword.
Two of the Praetorians that knew of Maximus's escape from Germania, are executed by Commodus. Quintus and Commodus have an argument.
Commodus orders his spies to watch senators and Proximo. Proximo notices one of his followers.
Lucilla realizes that Falco is in league with Commodus.
Praetorians attack innocent civilains by setting them on fire.
They said you were a giant. They said you can crush a man's skull with one hand.
Ridley Scott's Gladiator is not a perfect film, I would think that the hardiest of fans, of which I'm firmly one, know this deep down. Yet just like Commodus in the film is keen to point out that he himself has other virtues that are worthy, so does Gladiator the film. Enough in fact to make it an everlasting favourite of genre fans and worthy of the Academy Award acknowledgements it received.
In narrative terms the plot and story arc is simplicity supreme, something Scott and Russell Crowe have never shied away from. There has to my knowledge as well, never been a denial of the debt Gladiator owes to Anthony Mann's 1964 Epic, The Fall of the Roman Empire. Some folk seem very irritated by this, which is strange because the makers of Gladiator were not standing up bold as brass to proclaim they were unique with their movie, what they did do was reinvigorate a stagnant genre of film for a new generational audience. And it bloody worked, the influence and interest in all things Roman or historically swashbuckling of film that followed post Gladiator's success is there for all to see.
What we do in life echoes in eternity.
So no originality in story, then. While some of the CGI is hardly "Grade A" stuff, and there's a little over - mugging acting in support ranks as some of the cast struggle to grasp the period setting required, yet the way Gladiator can make the emotionally committed feel - overrides film making irks. Crowe's Maximus is the man men want to be and the man women want to be with. As he runs through the gamut of life's pains and emotionally fortified trials and tribulations, we are with him every step of the way, urging him towards his day of revenge splattered destiny; with Crowe superb in every pained frame, winning the Academy Award for Best Actor that he should have won for The Insider the previous year.
Backing Crowe up is Joaquin Phoenix giving Commodus preening villainy and Connie Nielsen graceful as Lucilla (pitch Nielsen's turn here against that of Diane Kruger's in Troy to see the class difference for historical period playing). Oliver Reed, leaving the mortal coil but leaving behind a spicy two fold performance as Proximo the Gladiator task master. Olly superb in both body and CGI soul. Richard Harris tugging the heart strings, Derek Jacobi classy, David Hemmings also, while Djimon Hounso gives Juba - Maximus right hand man and confidante - a level of character gravitas that's inspiring.
I didn't know man could build such things.
Dialogue is literate and poetic, resplendent with iconic speeches. Action is never far away, but never at the expense of wrought human characterisations. The flaming arrows and blood letting of the Germania conflict kicks things off with pulse raising clarity, and Scott and his team never sag from this standard. The gladiator arena fights are edge of the seat inducing, the recreation for the Battle of Carthage a stunning piece of action sequence construction. And then the finale, the culmination of two men's destinies, no soft soaping from Scott and Crowe, it lands in the heart with a resounding thunderclap. A great swords and sandals movie that tipped its helmet to past masters whilst simultaneously bringing the genre alive again. Bravo Maximus Decimus Meridius. 10/10
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