Gladiator (2000 movie)

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox Movie Gladiator was a popular movie that appeared in 2000, directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix.

The protagonist of the movie is a Roman general turned gladiator named Maximus Decimus Meridius (played by Russell Crowe) whose family was killed on orders from the Emperor Commodus (played by Joaquin Phoenix), and is now eager to seek revenge. It won five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor (Crowe), Visual Effects, Costume Design, and Sound. It was nominated for seven more, including Best Supporting Actor (Phoenix) and Best Director (Scott).


Historical sources

The Roman emperors portrayed in the movie are Marcus Aurelius (played by Richard Harris), who ruled AD 161180, and his son, the deranged Commodus, who ruled between 180192, and who scandalized Roman society by appearing in the Colosseum as a gladiator. The film's characterization attempts to reflect Marcus Aurelius's reputation for wisdom but does so by placing a modern democratic slant to his actions and beliefs. The representation of Commodus is extremely watered down, as Commodus was far more insane and bloodthirsty than he appears in the film.

The quick death of Commodus and the supposed return of republicanism to Rome at the end of the film is entirely fictional. Indeed, many historians—beginning with Edward Gibbon—cite Marcus Aurelius' death as the beginning of the fall of the Roman Empire.

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Joaquin Phoenix in the Oscar-nominated role of Commodus

The character of Maximus is entirely fictional, though he is similar in some respects to the historical figures of Narcissus (the character's name in the first draft of the screenplay) and Spartacus.

Influences from film and literature

The film's plot is drawn principally from two archetypal 1960s films of Hollywood's sword and sandal genre, The Fall of the Roman Empire and Spartacus.

The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) tells the story of Livius, who, like Maximus in Gladiator, is Marcus Aurelius's protege and romantically linked with his daughter, Lucilla. Both films tell the story of Commodus' murder of Marcus Aurelius and seizure of power when he learns that the aged emperor is planning to appoint Livius/Maximus as his successor, and of Livius/Maximus' subsequent exile and quest to avenge Marcus Aurelius by the death of Commodus.

Spartacus (1960) provides the film's gladiatorial motif, as well as the character of Senator Gracchus, a fictitious senator (bearing the name of a pair of senators from the 2nd century BC) who in both films is an elder statesman of ancient Rome attempting to preserve the ancient rights of the Roman senate in the face of an ambitious autocratMarcus Licinius Crassus in Spartacus and Commodus in Gladiator. Interestingly, Gracchus was played in Spartacus by Charles Laughton, who played Claudius in the 1937 film I, Claudius, while he was played in Gladiator by Sir Derek Jacobi, who played Claudius in the 1975 BBC adaptation.

Additionally, Maximus, Quintus and other characters, as well as the opening sequence of the film (set in Germany), are inspired by a work of extraordinary historical fiction by Wallace Breem, Eagle in the Snow (set some 200 years later).

The film's depiction of Commodus's entry into Rome borrows imagery from Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi propoganda film Triumph of the Will (1934), although Ridley Scott has pointed out that the iconography of Nazi rallies was of course inspired by the Roman Empire.

The making of the film

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Hans Zimmer in his studio

Actor Oliver Reed died during the filming of Gladiator; as a result, a body double and digitally altered (at an estimated cost of $3 million) outtake footage of the actor were used in his absence. The film is dedicated to his memory.

The sound track was composed by Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard. Most of the film was shot in Morocco.


Contrary to rumor, Enya did not record any music for the soundtrack of this film. The song often attributed to her, and in fact much of the soundtrack, was composed and sung by Lisa Gerrard. Some of the battle music on the soundtrack interpolates variations on "Mars, the Bringer of War" from Gustav Holst's The Planets. Russell Crowe's line, "Are you not entertained?" was sampled at the beginning of Jay-Z's Black Album track "What More Can I Say".

Mel Gibson was offered but turned down the part of Maximus. Crowe began shooting for Gladiator a few months after The Insider (1999) wrapped. He had gained upwards of 40 pounds for his Oscar-nominated role in that film and yet lost it all before production for Gladiator began. He claims he did nothing special other than normal work on his farm in Australia.

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The much-criticized CGI shot of Rome

Lou Ferrigno was originally cast as Tigris of Gaul but was replaced during production by Sven-Ole Thorsen, who had been lobbying hard for the part. Connie Nielsen found the 2000-year-old signet ring that she wears in the movie in an antique store. In the Colosseum scenes, only the bottom two decks are actually filled with people. The other thousands of people are computer animations.

Among the chanting of the Germanic hordes at the beginning of the film are samples of the Zulu war chant from the film Zulu (1964). The wounds on Russell Crowe's face after the opening battle scene are real, caused when his horse startled and backed him into tree branches. The stitches in his cheek are clearly visible when Maximus is telling Commodus he intends to return home. Over the course of the gladiatorial scenes, he broke bones in his foot and his hip, and injured both bicep tendons.

In the Spanish dubbed version, Maximus says he is from Emerita Augusta (modern Mrida). The Spanish dubbers claimed that, "Trujillo doesn't combine the "qualities" to be cradle of the gladiator."

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"Smile for me now brother!"

Maximus' description of his home (specifically how the kitchen is arranged and smells in the morning and at night) was ad-libbed—it's a description of Crowe's own home in Australia. The yak helmet worn by the gladiator who was slain by Hagen is the same one worn by the warrior slain by Sean Connery in Time Bandits (1981). During filming, director Ridley Scott wore the red cap worn by Gene Hackman in the movie Crimson Tide (1995), which was directed by Ridley's brother, Tony Scott.

Richard Harris, who plays Marcus Aurelius, was originally set to play Commodus in The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) but left the film due to artistic differences with director Anthony Mann and was replaced by Christopher Plummer. The real-life Commodus was in fact the only Roman Emperor in history to fight as a gladiator in the arena. He did so several times, not just once. He was not killed in the arena but was strangled in his dressing room by an athlete named Narcissus. In the original drafts of the script, the name of the main character was not "Maximus", but "Narcissus".

Writer David Franzoni started developing the story in the 1970s when he read "Those Who Are About To Die," a history of the Roman Games by Daniel P. Mannix; Franzoni later discussed the idea with Steven Spielberg during their work on Amistad (1997), saying that he envisioned Commodus as being something like Ted Turner in the way he combined politics and entertainment to establish a base of influence.

Ridley Scott was persuaded to direct the film when DreamWorks head Walter F. Parkes and producer Douglas Wick presented him with a reproduction of the 1872 painting Pollice Verso ("Thumbs Down") by Jean-Leon Gerome, in which a gladiator stands over the opponent he has beaten. On visiting the real Colosseum, Scott remarked to production designer Arthur Max that it was "too small", so they designed an outsized "Rome of the imagination" that was inspired by English and French romantic painters, as well as Nazi architect Albert Speer.

Writer William Nicholson added the aspects of the film in which Maximus discusses the afterlife, seeking to make the character more accessible to audiences. David Franzoni chose not to note at the end of the film that Rome did not, in fact, become a republic again, because he thought most audiences would already know that.

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Scott directs Crowe in the market scene

Among the changes necessitated by the death of Oliver Reed was the final scene, as it was supposed to have been Proximo who buried the figures in the sand of the Coliseum. Editor Pietro Scalia added the shot of Maximus moving through a wheat field to the beginning of the film; it had been filmed for the ending.

Maximus' Spanish heritage meshes interestingly with his choice of arms—as a General riding with the cavalry of the Felix Legion (in the opening battle), he wields a sword known as a spatha, popular among the continental tribes especially in Spain and southern Gaul. As a gladiator, he uses a sword similar to the spatha in appearance but shorter and broader. This weapon, known as the gladius Hispaniensis, was adopted by the Roman infantry after Julius Caesar's campaign in Spain. Roman infantry wore the gladius on the right side—this, facilitated by the short blade length, allowed the legionary to draw his weapon on the same side as his sword arm; cross-drawing would be hindered by the scutum (the large rectangular shield) while in formation.

The version of the gladius Hispaniensis used in the arena during the film is accurate as depicted; it was often shorter than the military version.

Main cast

External links

de:Gladiator (Film) fr:Gladiator it:Il Gladiatore ja:グラディエーター pl:Gladiator (film) sv:Gladiator (film) zh:角斗士 (电影)


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