I’m taking the opportunity after having a conversation with a friend of mine to talk about this fantastic movie that comes from Ridley Scott (Bladerunner, Alien). I remember the first time I saw this movie, I was 17 and rented it from LNS Video (since closed down). It has forever left an impression on me and given me an appreciation for Russel Crowe and this specific era of films. Gladiator came out in May of 2000, and was written by David Franzoni and stars a superb cast with the likes of Russell Crowe (Master and Commander, A Beautiful Mind), Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) and Connie Nielsen (Wonder Woman). As well as a stellar suporting cast of incredible talent.
This swords and sandals epic has great vision, and it’s crazy to think that this film is almost 20 years old. Boy does it hold up to its two decade lifespan. Since it has been out for so long I think it’s safe to say I can talk about this movie in detail without spoiling it for anyone. But DISCLAIMER! If you haven’t seen this movie I urge you to stop reading and go watch it. My simple words can barely compare to other critics, let alone the film itself. But after watching it again I couldn’t help but write about it. Everyone involved is at the top of their game as they follow this simple story. The arc of our protagonist Maximus, is compelling as it revolves around revenge of the man who murdered his family. Russell Crowe goes above and beyond to show the struggle of man who loses all that he cares about and gains a knew understanding of life and to the word honor. Also just as intriguing is our antagonist Emperor Commodus. Joaquin Phoenix plays a role that you do not want to watch, while simultaneously being unable to take your eyes of everything he is doing. Watching this it is obvious that his career was on trajectory to play a role just as unhinged in the character of the Joker this last year.
It is the story about a Roman general Maximus Meridius who after the loss of his commander, Emperor Markus Araelius, he is forced to make allegiance with his son Commidus. Upon refusing because he knows that Commidus murdered his father to take the throne is thrown into a new world, they make an attempt to murder him and successfully murder his wife and son. After escaping he is injured and sold into slavery, forced to fight in the roman arena as a gladiator. Since he is a skilled fighter he builds favor and the crowds love him, at which point he finds his way back in front of the man who killed his family.Making friends in high places he secretly gets involved in a plot to escape and use his army of loyal roman soldiers overthrow the emperor. Due to the politics of Rome and the situation with the senate, at this time the Emperor cannot just end his life, it comes to a head as Commidus realizes the only way to get rid of Maximus without hurting his image to the roman mobs is to fight him in the arena. Which doesn’t go over so well for Commidus. Of course the movie ends with Markus saving the day.
This movie is intense from the opening battle scene to its heartfelt conclusion. The cinematography is griping, as though you can feel the sand and the scorching heat, and tonely it brings about emotions that can make you drop your jaw in awe while crying along with our main character. Ridley Scott is a visionary in bringing this to life, being very reminiscent of movie we know and love like Ben Hur or Spartacus. There are not many negatives to say about this movie but I tried to come up with something. Nothing on this earth is perfect. One thing is that it has many historical inaccuracies, most of which had to be done in order to create a compelling story, so it is easily forgivable. As well I am not a fan of the fowl language, hearing modern cure words did nothing but pull me out of the story thinking that they probably didn’t use those words in that time. Again, it did not effect the movie experience or my enjoyment of it.
Gladiator is rated R for intense graphic violence and that is an accurate description of what you see in this movie. It is as brutal as the period it comes from. They take every opportunity to, like Braveheart and movies of this nature, to show how the people from this time thrived and even enjoyed the violence. Let us not forget that this is the same period where Christians were being murdered in mass numbers in the arena. Persecuted for following Christ being killed by wild animals and skilled fighters.
As well as the violence there is a fair amount of Language from all characters as I briefly stated already. Their is no sexual content outside of situations involving Commidus and his sister. But that is never explicitly seen or even talked about. Just a creepy aspect of of his character.
At the end of the day I have to say yes, “Remember this movie”.
“ but thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin you became slaves of righteousness.” Romans 6:17-18