D.J. Haza presents the next entry in his series of films to watch before you die…
Directed by Ridley Scott.
Starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou and Richard Harris.
Gladiator is the epic Roman tale of a great and loyal general who is stabbed in the back by his new Emperor and left for dead only to rise through the ranks as a gladiator, battling in the great arenas and coliseums of Italy to get his vengeance on the man who took everything he had.
General Maximus Decimus Meridius (Crowe) is betrayed by Emperor Commodus (Pheonix) soon after Commodus murders his father and takes the seat as leader of Rome. After escaping execution in the Germanic forests of the northern empire, Maximus makes his way back home where he finds his wife and son murdered at the instruction of Commodus. Maximus is found left for dead by slave traders and sold to Proximo (Reed) to fight in the gladiatorial arenas of the Roman Empire.
Maximus proves himself as a fierce warrior and soon becomes one of Proximo’s prized fighters. When Proximo’s men are invited to fight in the great Roman Coliseum in front of the Emperor Commodus, it is Maximus who uses his tactical know how to lead the men to victory against the odds and defeat skilled gladiators with greater weaponry than their own. As the crowds applaud the gladiator before them, Commodus makes his way into the arena to meet this great warrior, but he turns his back to the Emporer. On removing his helmet Maximus reveals himself to the shocked Commodus and the pair put in motion plans to stop each other. The film finishes with a battle in the Coliseum between the two men in a fight to the death.
Gladiator is a magnificent piece of cinema with huge sprawling CGI Roman cities that dazzle and the spectacular scenes within the Coliseum are awe inspiring. The film also signified a leap forward in epic historical films by creating a world that looked so realistic and magnificent on such a grand scale. As a result Gladiator won itself an Oscar for Best Visual Effects, adding to a haul that also included Best Picture, Best Actor (Crowe), Best Sound and Best Costume Design.
Gladiator is a film you must see before you die as not only is it epic and grand, but also a beautifully told story of vengeance and honour. Maximus’ journey from General to gladiator and then to saviour of the Roman Empire is heartbreaking, emotional and inspiring in equal measures.