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Anthony Lee
Anthony Lee

Gladiator (2000) _TOP_

Gladiator is a 2000 epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott and written by David Franzoni, John Logan, and William Nicholson. The film was co-produced and released by DreamWorks Pictures and Universal Pictures. DreamWorks Pictures distributed the film in North America while Universal Pictures released it internationally through United International Pictures. It stars Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed (in his final role), Djimon Hounsou, Derek Jacobi, John Shrapnel, Richard Harris, and Tommy Flanagan. Crowe portrays 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 becomes a gladiator and rises through the ranks of the arena to avenge the murders of his family and his emperor.

Gladiator (2000)

Commodus proclaims himself the new emperor, asking Maximus for his loyalty, but he refuses. Maximus is arrested by the Praetorian Guard and is told that he and his family will die. He kills his captors and, wounded, rides for his home near Turgalium (now Trujillo), where he finds his wife and son crucified. Maximus buries them, then collapses from his injuries. Slavers find him, and take him to the city of Zucchabar in the Roman province of Mauretania Caesariensis, where he is sold to gladiator trainer Proximo.

Maximus reluctantly fights in local tournaments, his combat skills helping him win matches and gain popularity. He befriends two other gladiators: Hagen, a German; and Juba, a Numidian. Proximo reveals to Maximus that he was once a gladiator who was freed by Marcus Aurelius, and advises him to "win the crowd" to win his freedom.

When Commodus organises 150 days of games to commemorate his father's death, Proximo takes his gladiators to Rome to fight in the Colosseum. Disguised in a masked helmet, Maximus debuts in the Colosseum as a Carthaginian in a re-enactment of the Battle of Zama. Unexpectedly, he leads his side to victory, and Commodus enters the Colosseum to offer his congratulations. He orders the disguised Maximus, as leader of the gladiators, to reveal his identity; Maximus removes his helmet and declares vengeance. Commodus is compelled by the crowd to let the gladiators live, and his guards are held back from striking them down.

Maximus's next fight is against a legendary undefeated gladiator, Tigris of Gaul. Commodus arranges for several tigers to be set upon Maximus during the duel, but Maximus manages to prevail. Commodus orders Maximus to kill Tigris, but Maximus spares his opponent's life; in response, the crowd chants "Maximus the Merciful", angering Commodus.

Maximus discovers from Cicero, his ex-orderly, that his former legions remain loyal. He meets in secret with Lucilla, Commodus's sister and once the lover of Maximus; and Gracchus, an influential senator. They agree to have Maximus escape Rome to join his legions, topple Commodus by force, and hand power back to the Roman Senate. Commodus learns of the plot when Lucilla's son, Lucius, innocently hints at the conspiracy. Commodus threatens Lucilla and Lucius, and has the Praetorian Guard arrest Gracchus and attack the gladiators' barracks. Proximo and his men, including Hagen, sacrifice themselves to enable Maximus to escape. Maximus is captured at the rendezvous with Cicero, where the latter is killed.

In an effort to win back public approval, Commodus challenges Maximus to a duel in the Colosseum. He stabs Maximus in the lung before the match to gain an advantage. Despite his injuries, Maximus disarms Commodus. After the Praetorian Guard refuses to aid him, Commodus unsheathes a hidden knife; Maximus overpowers Commodus and drives the knife into his throat, killing him. Before Maximus succumbs to his wounds, he asks for political reforms, for his gladiator allies to be freed, and for Senator Gracchus to be reinstated. As he dies, he has a vision where he reunites with his wife and son. His friends and allies honor him as "a soldier of Rome", at Lucilla's behest, and carry his body out of the arena, while the body of Commodus is left behind.

The scenes of slavery, desert travel, and gladiatorial training school were shot in Ouarzazate, Morocco, just south of the Atlas Mountains over a further three weeks.[27] To construct the arena where Maximus has his first fights, the crew used basic materials and local building techniques to manufacture the 30,000-seat mud brick arena.[28] The scenes of Ancient Rome were shot over a period of nineteen weeks in Fort Ricasoli, Malta.[29][30]

The performances and the cast were praised by critics, with Crowe and Phoenix being considered by critics as the main highlights. Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter said Crowe "solidly anchors this epic-scale gladiator movie - the first in nearly four decades - by using his burly frame and expressive face to give dimension to what might otherwise have been comic book heroics."[74] In his positive review for The Wall Street Journal, Joe Morgensten said that Crowe "doesn't use tricks in this role to court our approval. He earns it the old-fashioned way, by daring to be quiet, if not silent, and intensely, implacably strong," and that the film "rests on Mr. Crowe's armor-clad shoulders, and he carries it remarkably well."[75] Empire's Ian Nathan, giving the film four stars, wrote that Phoenix displayed "gleeful hamminess" in his performance.[76]

Writing for the film, Nathan expressed that "while it's all grand opera, and driven by sweeping gestures and pompous, overwritten dialogue, it is prone to plain silliness - especially in granting us the big showdown at the close. But the sheer dynamism of the action, coupled with Hans Zimmer's lavish score and the forcefield of Crowe, still makes this a fiercesome competitor in the summer movie stakes."[76] Geoff Andrew of Time Out praised the film, saying that "the cast is strong (notably Nielsen as Commodus's vacillating sister, and the late Oliver Reed, unusually endearing as a gladiator owner), the pacing lively, and the sets, swordplay and Scud catapults impressive.[77] Roger Ebert, who was otherwise critical in his two-star review, praised Nielsen for having the most depth in the entire film.[78] On the other hand, Camille Paglia, who called the film "boring, badly shot and suffused with sentimental p.c. rubbish," criticized Crowe and Phoenix's performances[79]

Gladiator is loosely based on real events that occurred within the Roman Empire in the latter half of the 2nd century AD. As Ridley Scott wanted to portray Roman culture more accurately than in any previous film, he hired several historians as advisors. Some deviations from historical facts were made to increase interest, maintain narrative continuity, and for practical or safety reasons. Scott stated that due to the influence of previous films affecting the public perception of what ancient Rome was like, some historical facts were "too unbelievable" to include. For instance, in an early version of the script, gladiators would have been carrying out product endorsements in the arena. While this would have been historically accurate, it was not filmed for fear that audiences would think it anachronistic.

In the film the character Antonius Proximo claims "the wise" Marcus Aurelius banned gladiatorial games in Rome, forcing him to move to Mauretania. The real Aurelius banned games, but only in Antioch as punishment for the city's support of the usurper Avidius Cassius. No games were ever banned in Rome. However, when the Emperor started conscripting gladiators into the legions, the resulting shortage in fighters allowed lanistae such as Proximo to make "windfall" profits through increased charges for their services.

Gladiator comments on the theme of violence in sports and as a spectacle for entertainment. Cyrino writes that "Gladiator evokes the influence of the superstar athlete in a child's wide-eyed worship of celebrity when young Lucius approaches Maximus, his new idol, as he waits in his cell to enter the arena."[98] Franzoni himself was inspired by various sports agents and professional sports such as the NFL and WWE when writing the script.[99] Cyrino believes that the film's "gladiatorial fights are reminiscent of the way in which contemporary sports competitions, especially professional football and wrestling, are filmed for television," and that Logan employed a similar tactic for the screenplay for Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday (1999), in which "the camera watches from a series of vantage points that are easily recognizable to any viewers of Monday Night Football."[98] Cyrino argues that the film deconstructs the spectacle of violence through the lens of Maximus. After a victory in Zucchabar, Maximus throws his sword at the local viewing box and spits at the sand after displaying his contempt for the crowd. Cyrino argues that "the depiction of the Roman mob in Gladiator offers the American audience an unnerving mirror-image of themselves, eager to be entertained at all costs and demanding ever more intricate, dangerous, and realistic spectacles."[98]

Themes of masculinity and stoicism are commentated throughout the film's plot. During the course of the film, Maximus is represented as a strong, fearless figure who is brave, loyal, and honest to those around him. Cyrino writes that Maximus' masculinity is defined through his upbringing as a farmer and a working-class hero.[98] A signature trait from Maximus before he fights is that he gets dirt from the ground and wipe his hands dirty with them, signaling his personality as a man who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. Cyrino states that Maximus' portrayal as "a simple man of the soil responds to modern society's idealization of the countryside and its supposed virtue and purity, in stark contrast to the crime-ridden metropolis."[98] Maximus gains the support of his fellow gladiators and some of the senate over the course of the film through the way he behaves and acts. 041b061a72


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