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Luckily, in Ridley Scott's case, Russel Crowe is so captivating and convincing as a general loved by his troops and as a slave loved by the people that the movie really works. Possibly one of the greatest actors today, Crowe carries this epic film on his very capable shoulders.
Not to say that he is the only reason this works. The supporting cast, most notably Connie Neilsen, buoy the film to new perspectives.
Jacquin Phoenix definitely captures the egotisitcal persona he should display, stealing every scene he's in. Phoenix will surely be put on the map with Gladiator.
But the real shining star in this film are the incredible action sequences which jolt the viewer right in with the opening sequences, as Maximus' true worth to the Roman Empire is displayed. Scott's camera work within these completed sequences takes a modern twist that really works for the gruesome scenes.
Crowe will now get the respect he deserves for this collosal performance. Gladiator makes the most of its 2 and a half hours, marking a triumphant comeback for the long forgotten epics of the classic days of film. ALL HAIL MAXIMUS!
The acting in the movie more than lives up to expectations. Russell Crowe is brilliant in his role as Maximus, the "general who became a slave, who became a gladiator, who defied an emperor." Crowe's intense style is perfect for the relentless determination and confidence of Maximus. Joaquin Phoenix is equally wonderful in his role as Commodus, the corrupt emperor. He plays a great villain because he is able to give Commodus depth by showing certain vulnerable or fragile sides, while at the same time instantly transforming to let the ruthless nature of his volatile character shine. It also helps that Joaquin has the classic Caesar look that works perfectly with his role.
Connie Nielsen is also very good as Lucilla. However, perhaps the two finest performances in the movie were given by a couple of acting veterans in supporting roles. Richard Harris and Oliver Reed were exceptional in what will be remembered as crowning achievements at the end of their careers. Harris was perfect as Marcus Aurelius, the aging Caesar who reflects upon his life and contemplates how the world will remember him. And Reed, especially, gave my personal favorite performance in the movie as Proximo, the trainer for the gladiators. The way he spoke about the life of a gladiator, the splendor of Rome, and the "thrill of the Coliseum" really added excitement and anticipation during the viewing of the movie.
Gladiator is filled with many memorable moments that one would need to see more than once to fully appreciate. The excitement felt for me when Rome is first shown in all its wonder and marvel is my favorite scene. But the whole movie is a rush! Hans Zimmer provides the absolute perfect score to capture the different moods in the movie. Ridley Scott sets the perfect tone with his artistic and creative directing. I would recommend it to anyone who can stomach intensity and enjoy an epic story for the ages. Next to Braveheart, this movie is the greatest of all-time!
I am mostly compelled with the beautiful script which in a way reminds me of poetry, though it is still everyday language. I love the acting portrayed by the late Oliver Reed and also Richard Harris. Russell Crowe, Djimon Housou and Joaquin Phoenix are also superb and the parts suit them perfectly. There are also a number of less "popular" artists who also deserve a big "bravo". Amongst them I have to mention ex-Mr Universe Ralph Moeller who is mostly used as the comic relief of the movie. In Gladiator we can also the beautiful and popular Maltese TV Star and actress Ruth Frendo, who although has a small part, she is totally brilliant and outstanding.
Actually I got to IMDb while I was looking for her name on the internet, in fact on IMDb she has some very stunning photos. I was lucky to meet Ruth Frendo whilst she was filming in another Maltese production. Ruth Frendo is not only a gorgeous and talented actress but she is also amazingly intelligent and very down-to-earth. We will definitely be seeing more of her work in the future...
The scenery used for "Gladiator" is brilliant and the opening battle scene is definitely one of my top favorite scenes. The modern camera technique contrasts sharply to the brutality of the gladiators actions and blood shed during the movie; and I love the light contrasts thanks to the lenses which most definitely have been used to create a surreal feel to the entire movie.
"Gladiator" deserves all the awards and great reviews it has received, and for those of you who still haven't gone and watched it I can assure you that it will be well worth your time and money. So go on and rent it now!
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
Once a great roman General, and as good as adopted son of Marcus Aurelius Caesar (Harris), Maximus (Crowe) is forced into exile by Commodus (Phoenix), heir to the throne, after the death of Marcus. Saved from death by slavers, he is purchased for use as a gladiator by Proximo (Reed) and ends up in the arena of all arena's, the Colloseum, where he proves unbeatable under his guise as "The Spaniard".
And with a budget of over $100m, Scott certainly delivers the goods. GLADIATOR transcends the notion of 'blockbuster' that we have become accustomed to in the age of electronic and special effects wizardry and instead offers a good old fashioned action film along the lines of Spartacus and and Ben Hur. Not only are we drawn into an archetypal story that contains all the classic elements a filmgoer could dream of (love, loss, courage, despair, good triumphing over evil etc etc) - also on offer is a visual feast of cinematic painting after painting - a rich tapestry of images that are breathtaking and ultimately visually satisfying. From the plains of Germania, to the desert stronghold of Zuchobar, and finally to great Rome herself, John Mathiesion, the cinematographer is to be commended highly for his general inventiveness and ability to capture so much on film. The opening battle scene is superb as a cast of thousands erupt across the screen and provide an indication that we are about to see a film that pays incredible attention to detail throughout its entirety. In every way, Scott has created a world for us that scuttles films of similar epic undertakings (and budgets!) and sends them to their dooms at the bottom of the murky depths of film history where they belong.
The cast is generally very strong. Crowe proves himself very suitable to the task with a great emotional range and depth of character. His accent ocassionally bugged me (as did the mish mash of accents on offer - but that is I guess a legacy of 'internationally casted films'), but this aside, he was well and truly up to the task. Phoenix is also excellent as the disturbed Commodus, as is Nielson as Lucilla, the daughter of Marcus who "should have been a son" and finds herself torn between loyalty to her brother and doing what is 'right'. The old guard thesps of Harris, Reed and Jacobi (Grachus) are uniformly strong as supporting characters, and Spencer Treat Clark (Lucius) does a fine job as the young heir to the throne.
Add to this great cast excellent editing and post production work, and an intricate soundscape (including a magnificent Hans Zimmer score), and you have a film that, despite its length, was highly palatable and had me in there from beginning to end. A must see.
The emperor's son, Commodus, then arrives with his sister Lucilla, and it is discovered that Commodus fully expects to be announced the new emperor of Rome in a few days. Aurelius, however, has other plans--he wants to make Maximus emperor, and requests that of the general, who wants nothing more than to go home to his family.
I went into this movie having just watched Ben-Hur in my film studies class and having watched an episode of Xena only a couple of weeks earlier that featured the story of Marc Anthony and Cleopatra. So you could say I was in the perfect mindset to watch a "sword-and-sandal" movie. I wasn't sure what to expect, having somehow avoided all the hype that accompanied this movie. But I was not disappointed.
Gladiator features some wonderful cinematography by John Mathieson. The battle scenes are very graphic. (This movie is not for the squeamish, that's for sure.) There were some scenes in particular that really struck me, such as when Crowe appears to be floating over the ground very fast. The use of color and color tones added a great deal to the mood of the movie. Excellent.
The script was being written and re-written as the filming was going on, yet it doesn't show that the actors had no idea how the movie was going to end when they began filming. The acting is terrific. Russell Crowe is wonderfully cast as Maximus. Many reviewers agree that he is now officially a star. Joaquin Phoenix also proves his mettle as the emotionally troubled Commodus, whose behavior and emotion toward his sister could give anyone the creeps. Connie Nielsen makes you believe that, as Lucilla, she really is torn between natural loyalty to her brother and doing what she knows is right. Oliver Reed, in his last performance, is memorable in his role of Proximo, the former gladiator who is the owner of Maximus and brings him to Rome. In short, the actors were brilliant in their roles, not over-acting, but giving subtle, strong performances.
The script itself is very good. Although some elements are a little hard to believe--the fact that no one recognizes Maximus when he's a slave?--this film calls for a willing suspension of disbelief, which one would happily comply with. (It's really no fun to nitpick such a movie.)
It's true that this movie does pretty much follow the Braveheart formula. However, this movie includes some elements, such as the cinematography and the incredibly graphic battle scenes (one reviewer likened it to Saving Private Ryan, "only better"), that are spectacular in itself. Overall, a great movie that I highly recommend.
A simple man v. an emperor. I just loved the resilience Maximus showed throughout the movie. I find in most movies, there is an irritatingly slow process where the character has to "find himself," not so with Gladiator. Maximus does what is needed.
I liked how there were only two or three issues within this film. One was the afterlife. Aspects of the afterlife are opened, but not overdone. Love of family is given sizable focus. I liked the theme of love of country that we see as well, although it may not be justly deserved, it is never questioned.
The visual effects were amazing. It actually had me wanting to believe that's the way Rome actually looked in all it's glory. The battle of Carthage reenactment was really great.
The ending is just hypnotic. Intentionally or unintentionally it was simply emotional. The music is wonderfully beautiful as if Maximus' family are telling him...you have arrived.
Bottom line: magnificent. Visually and emotionally satisfying.
Like Ben-Hur, this is a story of a successful man who loses everything thanks to an evil man, and then has to fight his way back up to seek revenge on that man and to obtain his freedom back. It's a tried-and-true formula. This movie doesn't go to excess on the violence as some of the other more recent epic films did, such as "Braveheart" or "The Patriot."
The acting is excellent, beginning with Russell Crowe, who has established himself as one of the best actors of today. Joaquin Phoenix also put himself "on the map" as an actor with his portrayal of the evil "Commodus." He's so annoying you want to slap that sucker, which means he's doing a good job acting. Kudos to the rest of the cast, too.
Too bad they don't make more of these type of films, as they did in the 1950s and 1960s.
Ridley Scott went to many different locations to shoot this film to make it real, and he does. The film is set in Rome, and it looks just like it. You feel as if you are there in the crowd, hearing them cheer and cheer to see the death. To some of you, this may sound a little barbaric, and believe me the film is VERY barbaric and brutual, however it teaches a very strong lesson of what happens when an economy turns as violent as Rome was. Ridley Scott goes to many lengths to make this movie real, because even though the characters are fictitious, all of this really did happen. Innocent people had to go through brutual fighting while thousands of people cheered for either their death or the enemy's death. If you were an inexperienced fighter, chances are you would get killed. But the strange thing is that Rome LOVED this. People came from all over to see these fights and to see the blood that was shed, that is why you can't blame the characters in this film for being so forlorn and saddened the whole time. The film itself is very dark. The theme is dark and the ending is dark. From beginning to end there is excessive violence (for those action movie-goers, this is a movie for you). But if the violence is concerning you, don't let it. The special effects make the movie great, but it's the acting and storyline that make it spectacular. HIGHLY RECCOMMENDED for anyone who wants a good time. Definitely makes you think. ***** out of *****.
This is just such an amazing film, it captures every emotion possible in only the way an expert director can achieve, we can go on for whole scenes without the need for speaking, everything is told through the genuine body language and expressions. And when there is conversing we get such emotion and wonderfully powerful quotes "What we do in life, echoes in eternity" Wow.
The opening scene is spellbinding, showing the true gore of battle, the fight scenes are marvellously realistic, discarding the popular "pretty" sword fighting for brutal aggressive force. The audience in the arena express every emotion, surprise, anger, and enjoyment. The cast is brilliantly chosen; we can really see Russell Crowe as a gladiator, in Commodus, Joaquin Phoenix gives us a man we can really hate, Connie Nielson shows real emotion and passion in the role of Lucilla. So apart from the spellbinding acting, scarily realistic fight scenes and the amazing script, what else can we look for? The music is just stunning, its exactly what we need brought in at exactly the right time, truly wonderful directing. And then we have the stunning special effects, we can really visualise the greatness that is Rome, the fight scenes really make you believe. Some critics have condemned the lack of historical fact, for instance an emperor would never fight a gladiator, and these comments cannot be denied, its true.
But I think we can forgive them that one fault for such an amazing movie. Without hesitation I give this movie a truly deserved 10/10!
The plot, with its hero-to-zero-to-hero nature, runs through Gladiator's every vein. As General Maximus, Russell Crowe is welcomed by Marcus Aurelius Caesar (Richard Harris) to take the Roman throne as Emperor of a new Republic. All does not run smoothly however as mislead heir to the throne Commodus (Phoenix) takes over Rome with ill-gotten domination, having dispatched his own Father. Maximus is cast out to find his family murdered and his Spanish farm burnt to the ground. Taken in as a slave by Proximo (Reed), Maximus becomes a Gladiator and starts his journey to the Coliseum and revenge against Commodus.
Scott's cast is powerful and he is not left wanting as powerful performances are delivered by all. Due to his untimely mid-production death, Oliver Reed is created in some scenes by the grace of computer graphics, which are as convincing as they come; sometimes making it difficult to differentiate between Reed himself and his computerised counterpart.
It is, however, the supporting actors who create many of Gladiator's best dialogue-based scenes. In an accomplished demonstration of her acting ability as Lucilla, Connie Nielsen saves the occasional scene as Joaquim Phoenix shows us that he can do evil', but is less convincing when it comes to the more emotional qualities of his role.
As a vehicle for the plot, Scott's beautifully created and highly symbolic (there is an image of fire in nearly every shot of the film) dialogue scenes are of a certain merit with digitally created backgrounds that encompass the meticulous nature of the Roman Empire. However, dialogue alone does not an epic movie make, and it is in the film's spectacular action sequences that Gladiator come into its own. Shot on location in Malta, Scott's first arena was built by an army of locals and commanded some 5000 extras (a large majority of whom were of a cardboard variety). All of this pales in comparison as we arrive in a digitally created Rome which makes some scenes in Ben Hur some somewhat small scale. The Coliseum is immense, both inside and out, and the computerised provides the electric atmosphere in which Crowe and his feline companions (four sizeable, and real, Bengal tigers) perform.
The battle sequences are perfectly choreographed and shot as iconic masks and typically Roman chariots are abundant in their power and imagery. As swords clash and heads roll, Ridley Scott is triumphant in the application of special effects technology and his directorial prowess.
Always one to embrace technology, Scott's views over Rome's landscape are reminiscent of the beautifully created cityscape of Blade Runner. This is a film that fears so little and boasts so much, even a lady archer being sliced clean in half by a spiked chariot wheel!
All those involved with Gladiator should be delighted and confident with their creation, for indeed this is a convincing and enthralling display with epic proportions to take the wind from James Cameron's titanic sails.
Scott's "Gladiator" is build around a mythic character, a man trying to find his way home... It is around someone finding inner strength in a tough time Maximus is somebody who doesn't want to be a soldier We realize this is a man who is pursuing the ultimate which is transcending death and finding love after death which completely transforms your reaction to the man, a man who is very, very strong but very, very loving
The plot, familiar from Anthony Mann's " Fall of the Roman Empire," had Crowe as Maximus, the proud well-loved Roman general in the army of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris). Maximus whose motto is 'Strength and Honor' is like a son to Aurelius, a statement that left Aurelius' own son, Commodus perturbed...
Disappointed by the news that his father privately decides to name Maximus his successor, and being a young ambitious son lusting for power, he murders his father, and orders a strike against the general... One of the best scenes of the motion picture is where Commodus is told by his father that he is not going to be the emperor Joaquin Phoenix is easy to hate in a frightening and vile character...
Ridley Scott creates a lot of beautiful scenes between the characters He did some fantastic work in all of those wonderful scenes in the film But there's another moment between the emperor and his daughter Lucilla (the Danish beauty Connie Nielsen) that I loved very much Harris says, "Let's not speak of politics. Let us pretend that you are a loving daughter and I'm a good father. " They walk for a few seconds and Lucilla says, "This is a pleasant fiction." I felt this short scene so sophisticated It seemed to me wonderfully insightful, simple in terms of amount of words, but complex in terms of understanding this strange relationship
One of the most successful bits of casting was Oliver Reed He's a harsh and rough businessman who makes his living off the death machine and yet, inside, there was some kind of ethical person that would come out at the right moment
Ridley Scott's epic film does not romanticize a democratic Golden Age of Rome but a decaying, blood thirsty empire on the edge of its fall... Through its beautiful music, through Russell's performance and through Ridley's soulfulness, "Gladiator" brought a poetic vision in a new and very cinematically richly way that really gave the audience something different, so emotional and so intimate
Like the great epics of Hollywood's past, Gladiator is simple in its story. Russell Crowe stars as the Roman General, Maximus, whose life is thrown into chaos after the jealous Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) arranges for his execution. Maximus is sold into slavery where he meets Proximo, a former gladiator played by Oliver Reed who shepherds him through life as a gladiator as Commodus scrambles to stop Maximus' influence among the people.
The story of Gladiator is a rock-solid tale of revenge, bolstered by well written characters, some sly political subtext, and a couple of stellar performances from Crowe and Phoenix. The two principle characters, Maximus and Commodus, are what separates Gladiator from the slew of sword-and-sandals epics that came after it. They are simply but elegantly written as characters; Maximus, a man singularly driven by a need to return to his family, Commodus, a confused young man singularly driven by a need to be loved. However, it is the performances from Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix that really elevate this material. Phoenix gives a brilliant portrait of an emotionally frustrated young man. He is completely unpredictable, but he never becomes campy. He is a real person with real problems, and there is an underlying sadness to his character that makes him so much more interesting than your typical stock villain. As for Crowe, his performance is all about physical presence. Apart from a few big emotional scenes, Crowe's performance is one of quiet masculine stoicism. He adds a remarkable gravitas to this character that all but makes the movie. You feel for him, you relate to him, you root for him, and you become inspired by him. It is a perfect heroic performance.
The character stuff in Gladiator really works. Coming from a genre that made do with archetypal characters doing obligatory British accents for years, it is nothing short of a revelation that Gladiator is such a fulfilling dramatic experience. Here are characters you actually care about and not simply placeholders to string up the plot in between action scenes.
When it comes to general filmmaking, Gladiator is rarely pedestrian and often astounding. Apart from some strange quirks in the filmmaking like the seemingly digitized zooms or the moments when the frame rate seems to cause a weird flicker effect, Gladiator is a deep, rich, and meticulously detailed visual experience. Hollywood production values don't get much higher than this. The technical departments are tops in terms of production design and costuming. The movie looks expensive, but there is something else in Gladiator's visual style that keeps your eyes glued to the screen. The look of the film, with its mix of traditional, large- scale sets and CG enhancements, is almost dreamlike. The environments of Ridley Scott's version of ancient Rome, including a painstakingly crafted digital recreation of the famous Colosseum, seem untethered to any kind of physical reality. It's as if what Scott has created is an environment that reflects the feeling of Ancient Rome rather than the reality of it. Just as with the deep characters and eloquent script, there's a modern feeling to Ridley Scott's filmmaking in Gladiator. The reliance on CGI is sometimes overdone, but in conjunction with the costumes, sets, and impressively grandiose score from Hans Zimmer, it adds to the intoxicating atmosphere of Ridley Scott's world.
The main attraction of Gladiator is its scenes of gladiatorial combat, and on that front, Ridley Scott aptly gets the job done. There are a few moments when Scott falls back on to standard sword clashing and disorientating shaky cam, but for the most part, the action scenes are exciting, bloody, and imaginatively staged. The best action scenes are the opening Barbarian battle and a fantastic fight scene between Maximus, a veteran gladiator, and a Colosseum full of bloodthirsty tigers. In those scenes, Scott's emphasis on close-up, sweaty, brutal action is totally effective. I felt the cold of the forest mud, the heat of the flaming trees, the sharpness of the swords, and the dusty claustrophobia of the Arena. The action of Gladiator is visceral and bloody, and there is plenty of it. Those hungry for bloodsport will find more than enough manly derring-do to satiate their red-blooded desire.
For all its dramatic depth, I can't say I came out of Gladiator heavily affected by feeling. This is still, at its core, a visceral experience, but the small character moments and the textured performances are miraculously riveting. I was intrigued by every second of Gladiator. The action scenes are thrilling, the dramatic scenes are mesmerizing, and the $103 million budget is all up there on the screen in every frame. Ridley Scott's direction is superlative, especially in the third act, as the story, action, and emotions reach a fever pitch. The last few scenes, including the climactic final showdown and the closing 'Elysium' scene, exhibit a crescendo of the kind of daring artistry that permeates the film's best sections. Gladiator is a meaty Hollywood epic of the best kind. It's visually sumptuous and supremely thrilling, but there is a beating heart within this beast. Sure there are a couple of bumps along the way, but with Crowe as the sturdy hero and a simple story of returning home, Gladiator stays with you long after the credits roll.
It is unlikely that a Roman general would be sold into slavery and forced to fight in the arena. Exiled, yes. Killed maybe. Asked to commit suicide to retain his property, most likely.
It is unlikely that he would return to find his family crucified, of all things. Romans were very specific about who got crucified and why. Romans usually avoided it, no matter how cruel the tyrant(?) was.
Roman legionnaires would NEVER have a tattoo unless they were barbarians who got one BEFORE joining a legion. Marking or mutilating the human body was expressedly anti- Roman. No statue or depiction exists of a main-period Roman showing a body-marking. The bonding feature the writer was attempting was an inappropriate borrowing from the 20th century German SS.
Great entertaining movie nonetheless.
It's one of the most excellent movies already made in the movie's history! Russel Crowe is terrific in the role of Maximus and so is Joaquim phoenix great as commodus. For people who enjoys history,specially ancient history,is a chance to see how was Rome many centuries ago, and also know better about the gladiators, the Colosseum and how some things worked in that time.
I will not write about the plot here, because many people already did this; I will only say for people that never watched this movie, that it deserves to be watched and, if you have some money, buy the DVD!
Russell Crowe gives quite simply the performance of a lifetime as the Gladiator Maximus, one that deservedly won him Best Actor at the 2000 Academy Awards (although his performance in the following year's Beautiful Mind was arguably even better, even if it didn't win him his second consecutive Oscar), and provided a thinking woman's alternative to the likes of Pitt, Cruise and Clooney to swoon over. His gravely voice and impressive physique combine to give him a huge presence, which literally fills the screen. His dialogue is sparing, but his actions speak far louder, adding a stoic sadness to his vengeance-driven heroic character. Before Gladiator, Crowe was a good secondary actor; after Gladiator he was catapulted to the top of Hollywood's A-list, and remains there, thanks to this career-making performance proving him to be one of the finest actors of his generation.
Joaquin Phoenix is fantastic as the scheming and corrupt Emperor Commodus who betrays Maximus and has his family killed. He manages to be delightfully and totally evil without ever descending into the realms of pantomime villain, which is a tricky line to walk, and manages to avoid being overshadowed by Crowe's monumental performance.
The fight scenes are rousing and superbly choreographed, in particular a scene where Maximus marshals his fellow slaves into an army against marauding chariot archers in the Colosseum. The dialogue is kept simple and never overbearing (no need to worry why all of Europe speaks the same language) and culminates in one of the most memorable pieces of script that is destined to join the ranks of 'Play it Sam' and 'Are you talking' to me' as one of the most quoted (and misquoted) lines in movie history although it is rather wordy. But here it is, in full; 'My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius. Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true Emperor Marcus Aurelius; Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife, and I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.' As Crowe turns to the Emperor in the arena and delivers this line, it proves to be one of the most electrifying moments in cinema history hairs will stand up, spines will tingle, guaranteed.
The action is set to some truly beautiful music, and it is shameful Hans Zimmer missed out on the Oscar for Best Score. Ridley Scott was similarly unlucky in the Director category.
The film is however tinged with sadness, as it proved to be the final (but triumphant) swansong for the careers of Oliver Reed and Richard Harris, both of whom died shortly after making this film. Neither could have delivered much finer performances, and if any performance had to be a final one, both delivered one worthy of such a status here. Reed in particular is a revelation, reminding older generations and showing a new generation of his considerable talent.
An inspiring film, rousing, exhilarating, exciting and moving. Superbly acted, directed, scored and visualised. A tribute to how great films could be once, and could be again.
From director Ridley Scott, Gladiator is a historical epic to rival the classics from the 'golden age' of Hollywood. Opening in 180 A.D., with a brilliantly orchestrated battle between the Roman armies and the tribes of Germania, Scott's film grabs the viewer's full attention from the outset and doesn't let go until the end, having delivered an Oscar-winning central performance from Crowe, a memorable score by Hans Zimmer, excellent supporting roles from the likes of Harris, Phoenix, Connie Nielsen and Oliver Reed, and some of the most impressively bloody scenes of hand to hand combat ever filmed.
If I were to choose my favourite scene, it would be the 're-enactment' of the battle of Carthage, a savage piece of action cinema in which Maximus and his fellow gladiators are ushered into the arena like cattle to the slaughter, only to turn the tables on their attackers, winning the hearts of the Roman masses in the process. A rousing, blood drenched spectacle, it's a fine example of Scott's expert direction, a masterclass in camera placement and movement, editing (the violence is extreme, but the film doesn't wallow in the gore), sound design and special effects, which still thrills even after all of these years.
What strikes you most about "Gladiator" are not the dazzling sets and costumes - though they contribute to the effect too. Where "Gladiator" delivers is in the area of raw human emotions we are so familiar with.
As somebody said, switching to the other mind-set is half the fun, and Gladiator takes you right to the midst of Romans' politics, their passions, their dreams and their weaknesses.
After Ben-Hur, I feel this is the best period movie to have ever emerged from Hollywood.
For me it took watching it in German overdubbing. As I don't speak German there was nothing to detract me from visuals and music. And it's a new experience on another level. But more on that later. First the crappy part. The story.
Make no mistake, whether you care about history or not, this is a horrible script. It's taking huge (and quite unacceptable) liberties with the period it purports to portray, it's unconvincing even on its own terms, the dialog is pretty much high school and in its core it's a predictable revenge story told a zillion times before. Apparently (according to a documentary about Hollywood screenwriters) only Russell Crowe didn't know what turd the script was so he contributed himself with the juvenile "husband of the dead wife" speech.
Ridley Scott and his crew apparently knew what stinker they had to work with and did their best to defeat it with excellence in all areas and actually made two films in one.
On the surface it's a revenge story. The hero, a favorite army general turned gladiator, seeks revenge against a young emperor, who had general's family killed during the tumultuous succession to the throne. The military battles and the gladiatorial bouts required for this aspect of the movie are done both to tremendous detail and on a grand scale. With the help of CGI they are seen in all their glory and gore. Some accuse Scott of shying away from action but his direction shows everything one needs to see. Yes, the cuts are brief, the camera sometimes doesn't follow through, but the editing is pure poetry and you miss nothing. Cinematography-wise every frame is shot in a way that you could just hang it on a wall as a nice picture. Costumes and scenery are impeccable. A revenge story, yes, but well worth watching.
But on another level "Gladiator" plays out like a remake of "Fall of a Roman Empire". But it's not in the script. It's in the mood set again by production. This other story is about the decline and death of classical Rome and its ideals. There is simple yet effective symbolism to express it, the play on dark and light and the sunrise-sunset arc. The movie starts with a battle at dawn, the way the Rome itself had once dawned, fighting. There is an ideal Roman hero, valiant and dutiful, there's a typical Roman villain, clandestine and scheming. Hero does his best in the light, the villain does his worst in the dark, whenever they swap environments during the movie they fail miserably. The story ends at sunset, symbolizing the end of the Empire itself, and although an uplifting speech is given at that point it is defeated by the setting sun.
The feeling of the doom is constantly emphasized by melancholic music. The dreamlike experience of the main character who is already dead but doesn't yet know it is enhanced when he finally visits Rome and the city is an idealistic, blown in proportions version of itself. The script may be a complete falsification of history, but the feeling of decline one gets when watching those scenes is probably completely faithful.
So forget the story and the closing speech. Watch and listen the movie. The Roman Empire is living and dying once more before your very eyes.
I diplomatically place myself somewhere in the middle.
For me, scepticism set-in at the outset. That much-vaunted battle scene didn't sit right at all. In combat, the greatest Roman strength lay in the legion. The scrupulously drilled and disciplined foot-soldiers worked in unison, advancing upon enemies in their orderly units and maniples.Their Shields interlocked to create a mobile wall that could form-up on all flanks and even provide overhead protection. In between, they used their short, stabbing swords.
The legions, then, were only at their best in the open. In dense forest, their advantages would have been squandered, any fight being a brawl upon the same terms as the enemy. Morover, their big Shields would have been an encumbrance and the short swords inadequate. A good Roman general drew the enemy out to fight on his terms, not the other way round. I'm not a scholar of Roman warfare; it may be there were occasions when Romans had no choice, but this is where the question marks began to pop-up. Check out the impeccable piece in 'Spartacus', where the Roman legions deploy by the textbook, drawing their enemy down from the hill. Perhaps Mr Scott felt that a more faithful rendering would seem like too much of a rip-off. In any case, this battle is quite incidental, and seems to exist only to grip the viewer's attention for the next couple of flatulent hours.
Neither was I aware that the Roman army employed fire-bombs. It's not for me to say they didn't, but I have no reference to this tactic at all.
I thought Ridley Scott made a futile attempt to create an 'arty' film. The frequent dream-like flashbacks to a hand running through spears of corn reminded me of the recurrent unicorn dream from his fascinating but equally pretentious 'Blade Runner'. From time to time there's even the same high-pitched warbling 'oriental' chorus, intended to project mood, but failing again. Some directors don't seem to realise that cinema-goers have memories.
General Gruntus Maximus (Russel Crowe) surely got the easiest Oscar in history. He was believable as an uneducated slob in the way, perhaps, Spartacus should have been; but cerebral enough to be a general? I don't think so. And you don't rise to be a career general in an army whilst obsessing as a farmer about your harvest. You're either one, or the other.
There was one particularly absurd scene in the arena when he was chopping-down competitors as quickly as they could be set against him. What then - weren't they trained gladiators, too? I was half-expecting him to begin walking sideways along the arena walls like 'Neo' from 'Matrixus'.
As to the 'spectacle' of Rome; well, that was all just computer-generated hokum. The back-room boys can whip-up anything in that way now just by tapping a few keys, so what's the big deal? Check-out the 'real' thing in 'Fall Of The Roman Empire'.
As with 'Titanic' and 'Pearl Harbour' a splendid opportunity was missed here to do something really wonderful, but because of flawed vision and misplaced directorial self-belief we finished up with mediocrity. Glorious mediocrity.
Still, bread and circuses usually please the crowds.