Gladiator: You Won’t Have to Fight off Boredom

Gladiator: You Wont Have to Fight off Boredom

Jackie Collver, Writer

Gladiator has been on my watch list for a few years now, and I finally watched it in Mr. Hussey’s Reading the Movies class. Now that I have seen it myself, I understand why it’s considered a classic — and it isn’t just because of its many awards.  

The movie received five Oscars, and it is still much-loved by many movie connoisseurs today, including my father who quotes the film all the time. Watching Gladiator is like being on a rollercoaster of emotion, and it remains one of the only movies ever to make me cry.  

The film follows the story of a Roman army general, Maximus (Russell Crowe), fighting for Rome’s expansion into Germania in 180 AD. Despite his high rank in the military and close relationship with Rome’s emperor at the time, Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris), Maximus’ glory begins to crumble faster than Rome’s empire does later. After Marcus Aurelius dies and his son, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), becomes emperor, Commodus tasks several men to kill Maximus. However, Maximus escapes these men and is sold into a gladiator ring, losing all power he had before. As this fate is crumbling, so is Rome. At this time, some Romans wanted their country’s power to fall onto the people of Rome. These people included Marcus Aurelius and Maximus. However, other Romans wanted more government power through the Senate, such as the new emperor Commodus, which promoted Maximus’ execution. This plotline, although probably not entirely based on real events, is very interesting and makes the characters and their actions easy to understand. There is never a dull or unimportant scene, so it’s vital to pay attention; otherwise, you might not understand the characters’ actions or what’s happening with them.   

As Commodus is trying to figure out what to do with the Senate, he allows 150 days of gladiator fighting, previously outlawed by Marcus Aurelius. Maximus, thought to be dead by Commodus, is caught up in these fights, and soon wins fame for his fighting skills. At the same time, to protect himself against Commodus, Maximus must keep his identity hidden. The violence and gore during these scenes merit an R rating for the film. If gore isn’t your thing, then you will not like the scenes of gladiators chopping other fighters’ heads off, nor Maximus’ bloody shoulder injury that made me cover my eyes many times throughout the film. The make-up for this film is so well done that some injuries, like Maximus’ sliced shoulder, made me feel sick. The props and settings of Gladiator were also ridiculously impressive, with the colosseums looking crazy real. I guess that’s what you can do with a $103 million dollar budget.  

Despite these amazing sets and make-up work, there were some obvious green screens, especially when it came to scenes involving the sky. I was expecting this, considering the film was made in 2000. I didn’t mind these green screens, though – I thought they looked neat. Director Ridley Scott worked with what technology he had and did an amazing job.  

Every actor in this film is amazing, especially Joaquin Phoenix. His whining and treachery make it easy to hate his character and root even more for Maximus, especially in the final scenes. The cinematographer uses shadows and unique camera angles to make him look especially evil. Russell Crowe also does an amazing job. His story is so sad and unfair that it will leave viewers in tears.  

With its brilliant camera work, talented cast, and amazing sets and props, it is no wonder why Gladiator won so many awards and is a favorite movie to many, me included. It is a must-watch for anyone interested in epic historical films who doesn’t mind a little fake blood and tears. I rate Gladiator 4 out of 5 stars.