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GLADIATOR (2000 - R)
GLADIATOR is the epic tale of a revered Roman General Aurelius Maximus, battle victor turned slave turned audacious Gladiator turned rebel who defied his Emperor, Commodus Caesar.
Written by: David Franzoni.
Directed by: Ridley Scott.
Genre: Action, Drama, Adventure. * Best Picture Oscar Winner / Best Picture Index
Rated: R for intense, graphic violence and combat scenes.
Tagline: "Strength and honor… for what we do in life echoes in eternity!"
A stunning film that won 5 Oscars and 44 awards from another 73 nominations, GLADIATOR is the timeless tale of the noble man's quest for vengeance. This time the protagonist is the revered Roman General, Aurelius Maximus (Russell Crowe). The story begins with Maximus at the helm of the final war in the rapid expansion of the Roman Empire. Bravely, Maximus gives hit battle boast and leads his men into war against the Germanians.
With a profoundly acute dialogue of witty aphorisms and resonating morals, the film depicts a swift defeat of the Germanians, where fiery slings and arrows contrast perfectly with the barren icy landscape. Appropriately, the battle cries and woes of anguish are muted; replaced by a haunting score of melancholic empathy that arises from the depths of the screen. Soldiers display their anguish in the contorted expressions across their mortal faces. Just as quick as the cinematographically flawless scene is over, so is the independent reign of the Germanians. Rome has claimed her prize much to the thanks of Maximus' guidance, and the sincere gratitude of his Emperor, Aurelius Caesar (Richard Harris).
But Aurelius 'the wise' is dying, and his vision to uphold the Roman dream of a Republic will become a faint shadow unless Aurelius Caesar prevents his incompetent and jealous son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) from controlling the throne. Thus, Aurelius's heartfelt love and admiration for the humble Maximus, and his loathing of his cowardly and idle son, prompts him to ask for Maximus succession to the throne. Upon hearing the deflating news, the enraged Commodus smothers his father to an early death and usurps the Roman throne and the Emperorship. With Maximus convinced of a conspiracy, he refuses to pledge allegiance to his illegitimate Caesar, Commodus, and is thus exiled and ordered for murder, along with his family.
Overcoming certain death Maximus rides home only to find his beautiful farm burnt to the ground; his wife and son, crucified in the charred ashes of the land's remains. Heartbroken, Maximus falls to the ground and in his sorrowful slumber is captured by a nefarious slave gatherer. A wounded Maximus is trekked across the blazing sands into what is supposedly Africa, and an appropriately tribal score throbs its percussive chants amidst the scenic splendor of his journey. Once there however, he is sold as a slave into the ownership of Proximo (Oliver Reed), ring leader and trainer of the despised Gladiators: slave warriors who fight to the death in an enclosed arena for mere sport of common society.
But weary from his betrayal and his family's murders, Maximus refuses to fight, save for in the ring, where it is required so as to save his life. Quickly Maximus' experience as a war general, along with his strength and valor, prove him to be a menacing force in the ring, and he becomes a local favorite: The "Spaniard". Along with his friends Juba (Djimon Hounsou) and Falco, Maximus fights foe after foe, all the while moving closer to his home town of Rome, where the slaves will be forced to fight in the Coliseum as part of the games ordered by Commodus as a gift to honor his father’s death.
Intent on revenge, Maximus waits day and night for his chance to murder Commodus. Meanwhile Commodus' sister Lucilla (Connie Nielsen), former lover and admirer of Maximus, has stepped in and attempts to help Maximus find his freedom so that he may free her and all of Rome from Commodus' oppressive reign. Conspiring with the noble Senator Gracchus (Derek Jacobi) and loyal soldier Cicero, Maximus devises a planned escape and attack on Commodus’ palace.
But Commodus catches wind of the conspiracy through the naïve Lucius (Spencer Treat Clark), Lucilla's son and heir to the throne. Thus Commodus sets out to squash Maximus' plans and the final quest for vengeance is delivered to Maximus in the form of a fight to the death: Commodus and Maximus will face off in the Coliseum for all of Rome to behold. Of course Commodus, the gutless, despised man that he is, delivers Maximus a cheap, fatal blow to his ribs prior to the fight (while Maximus is chained up, where no one can see Commodus' despicable act of cowardice). Nevertheless the battle ensues with the hopes of all of Rome dependant on its outcome. But after so much death and betrayal, and an aching wound beckoning Maximus to leave this world, will he have the strength it takes to complete his quest, and free the Roman people once and for all?
With an enticing tale, an amazing compilation of varying scores, and a vivid detail to cinematography, GLADIATOR is an epic tale that Ridley Scott brings to life in memorable fashion. From the constantly sharp, moralistic dialogue, to the uncanny relationships, to the detail attended to the chivalric code of honor and loyalty, GLADIATOR portrays the Roman civilization at its best, despite their leader’s ineptness. A vision of a Republic was a revolutionary thing, and Ridley Scott does justice to the trials and tribulations, and the personal sacrifice that many undertook to secure its future.
Russell Crowe plays Aurelius Maximus, the Roman general who is usurped, exiled, and destined to be murdered along with his family, but whose swift escape lands him in the ownership of Gladiator ruler, Proximo, whereby Maximus will get his chance at revenge for his betrayal.
Joaquin Phoenix plays Commodus Caesar, the corrupt prince turned Emperor after murdering his dying father and usurping the throne, whereby he orders the executions of Maximus and his family.
Djimon Hounsou plays Juba, the loyal Gladiator slave who helps Maximus fight his way to freedom while bound to the chains of slavery and bondage.
Oliver Reed plays Proximo, former Gladiator turned slave-owner whose familiar struggle for freedom allows him to overcome his hardened shell and befriend his revered "Spaniard".
Connie Nielsen plays Lucilla, Aurelius Caesar's daughter and Commodus Caesar's sister, who is incestuously admired by Commodus, and placed at his mercy after he usurps the throne of Rome.
Richard Harris plays Marcus Aurelius, the wise and noble Emperor of Rome whose dying days are cut short by his jealous son Commodus.
Derek Jacobi plays Senator Gracchus, the one noble man existent in the Senate and intent on preserving the Roman dream of a Republic.
Spencer Treat Clark plays Lucius, Lucilla's son and heir to the Roman throne pending Commodus' death.