Gladiator (2000 film)
|Directed by||Ridley Scott|
|Story by||David Franzoni|
|Edited by||Pietro Scalia|
|Box office||$457.6 million|
Gladiator is a 2000 British-American epic historical drama film directed byRidley Scott, and starringRussell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen,Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed (in his final film role before his death), Djimon Hounsou, Derek Jacobi, John Shrapnel, and Richard Harris. Crowe portrays the fictional character, loyal Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius, who is betrayed when Commodus, the ambitious son of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, murders his father and seizes the throne. Reduced to slavery, Maximus rises through the ranks of the gladiatorial arena to avenge the murders of his family and his emperor.
The film was released in the United States on May 5, 2000, and was a box office success, receiving generally positive reviews and being credited with rekindling interest in the historical epic. The film won multiple awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Crowe, and three other Oscars at the73rd Academy Awards.
In AD 180, Hispano-Roman General Maximus Decimus Meridius leads theRoman army to a decisive victory against the Germanic tribes nearVindobona, ending a long war on the Roman frontier and winning the favor of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Maximus, weary of battle, desires to retire to his Spanish farm estate, but the Emperor tells him that his own son and heir to the throne, Commodus, is unfit to rule and so appoints Maximus as regent to help save Rome from corruption. When Marcus Aurelius tells his son that he will not be Emperor, Commodus murders him in a fit of rage.
After Commodus announces that he is the new Emperor of Rome, he asks Maximus for his loyalty. But the general refuses because he suspects foul play. Maximus is arrested by some of his former loyal officers and is sentenced to death at dawn. He kills his captors and rides for his farm in Hispania, but arrives too late to find it destroyed and his family dead, under the orders of Commodus. Maximus buries them and collapses from his wounds and grief. He is found by slavers who take him toZucchabar, a colonia in the Roman North African province of Mauretania Caesariensis, where he is sold to a lanista (gladiator trainer) named Proximo.
Although reluctant at first, Maximus begins to fight in local tournaments and make friends with two other gladiators named Juba, a Numidian, and Hagan, a German. As he wins every match because of his military skills and indifference to death, he gains fame and recognition. This brings him to the attention of Proximo who reveals to Maximus that he himself was once a gladiator who fought well enough to be given his freedom by Marcus Aurelius. He advises Maximus that being a good killer is not enough, a good gladiator is one that can “win the crowd” and earn their respect. Proximo encourages Maximus to go to Rome and fight in the Colosseum where Commodus has organized 150 days of games to commemorate his late father. He could then use the power he commands in the arena as leverage against the Emperor.
Maximus’ first gladiatorial combat in the Colosseum is a re-enactment of the Roman victory overCarthage at the Battle of Zama. Although the gladiators – who are portraying the Carthaginian infantry – are expected to be massacred, they instead, under the leadership of Maximus, defeat the legionaries ofScipio Africanus. This prompts a surprised and delighted Commodus to enter the arena to offer his personal congratulations. Despite the opportunity, Maximus decides against killing the Emperor because Lucius Verus, the young nephew of Commodus, is present. On revealing himself to the startled Commodus he vows to have his vengeance. The Praetorian Guard is ordered to attack but the Colosseum crowdrepeatedly chants “Live!”. Under pressure to keep the mob of Rome happy, Commodus relents and leaves angrily.
Maximus next fight is against Tigris of Gaul, a large undefeated gladiator. After a fierce and lengthy duel that Commodus has attempted to fix, Maximus spares his defeated opponent’s life despite the crowd wanting a kill. This show of defiance earns him the moniker “Maximus the Merciful” and more cheers of adulation. Angered by this turn of events, Commodus enters the arena to taunt Maximus about his family’s death. But the gladiator turns his back and walks away; another act of defiance that is making him more popular than the Emperor.
As Maximus is being escorted back to the gladiators’ barracks, his former orderly Cicero approaches him to say he still has the loyalty of the legions encamped near Rome. Lucilla, Commodus’ sister, and Gracchus, from the Senate, secure a meeting with Maximus. He obtains their promise to help him escape Rome, rejoin his soldiers, topple Commodus by force, and hand power back to the Roman Senate. However, a suspicious Commodus learns of the plot from Lucilla by threatening Lucius. The Praetorian Guard arrest Gracchus while another contingent is sent to the gladiators’ barracks. Maximus escapes after Proximo and his men (including Hagen) sacrifice themselves to gain him more time. But when he reaches the rendezvous point, Maximus is captured and Cicero is killed.
Commodus, who is fearful and jealous of Maximus’ popularity, challenges him to a duel in the Colosseum. However, before the fight he secretly stabs Maximus in the side to gain an advantage. Nevertheless Maximus eventually overcomes and disarms Commodus in the arena. When his Praetorian Guards refuse to give him another sword, the Emperor produces a hidden stiletto. But Maximus drives the blade back into Commodus’ throat.
As Maximus succumbs to the stab wound in his side, his last words are to ask for reforms to be made, his gladiator allies freed, and that Senator Gracchus be reinstated. While the body of Commodus is left unceremoniously on the floor of the arena, Maximus is solemnly carried away to be given an honorable funeral as a “soldier of Rome”.
A now-free Juba revisits the Colosseum at night. He buries the figurines of Maximus’ wife and son at the spot where he died. He says he is now going back to his own family. He promises that he will see Maximus again, “but not yet”.