Gladiator (2000 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ridley Scott|
|Produced by||Douglas Wick
|Screenplay by||David Franzoni
|Story by||David Franzoni|
|Music by||Hans Zimmer
|Edited by||Pietro Scalia|
|Distributed by||DreamWorks Pictures (North America)
Universal Pictures (International)
|Running time||155 minutes (Theatrical cut)
164 minutes (Director's cut)
Gladiator is a 2000 British-American epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed (in his final film role), Djimon Hounsou, Derek Jacobi, John Shrapnel, and Richard Harris. Crowe portrays the fictional character, loyal Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius, who is betrayed when the emperor Marcus Aurelius's ambitious son, Commodus, murders his father and seizes the throne. Reduced to slavery, Maximus rises through the ranks of the gladiatorial arena to avenge the murder of his family and his emperor.
Released in the United States on May 5, 2000, Gladiator was a box office success, received generally positive reviews, and was credited with rekindling interest in the historical epic. The film won multiple awards, notably five Academy Awards in the 73rd Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Actor for Crowe.
In AD 180, Spanish-Roman General Maximus Decimus Meridius leads the Roman army to a decisive victory against the Germanic tribes near Vindobona (Vienna), ending a long war on the Roman frontier and winning the favor of elderly Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The emperor is already old and dying, and although he has a son, Commodus, he asks Maximus to succeed him as a regent and turn Rome back into a republic. The emperor speaks with Commodus afterwards and explains his decision, but Commodus reacts by killing him and claiming the throne.
Maximus is confronted by Commodus, who asks for Maximus' loyalty, but the general suspects foul play and refuses. General Quintus, captain of the Praetorian Guard and a friend to Maximus, chooses to follow Commodus' orders and sends men to the Roman province of Spain to kill Maximus's wife and son on their farm estate. Maximus manages to escape his own execution and makes the long journey to his Spanish farm on horseback as fast as he can, but finds his wife and son already dead. He buries them and collapses. A passing slave caravan captures Maximus, assuming that he is a deserter. Maximus is taken to "Zucchabar" (Roman province of Mauretania) in North Africa and sold to a man named Proximo, who uses him as a gladiator.
Maximus is forced to fight in local tournaments, and wins every match because of his superior skill. He makes friends with Proximo's other gladiators, including a Numidian named Juba and a German named Hagen. His successes allow Proximo to bring the team to the Roman Colosseum, where Commodus has organized 150 days of games to honor his late father. Proximo explains to Maximus that he was himself a gladiator who fought well enough in the Colosseum to win his freedom, granted to him by Marcus Aurelius himself. Maximus realizes that if he fights well enough in the Colosseum he may have a chance to personally meet the Emperor, giving him his chance to kill Commodus.
Having arrived at the Colosseum, Proximo's team is put in a match that is meant to be a reenactment of the Battle of Zama. Maximus and his teammates are on foot, armed with spears and shields, against a cohesive and well-equipped force of mounted fighters and archers on chariots. By means of Maximus's leadership, however, the team is able to upset their opponents. Commodus comes down personally to congratulate Maximus on his victory. Maximus prepares to kill Commodus, but at the last moment decides against it. At this point, Maximus removes his helmet and reveals himself to Commodus. Maximus promises to exact vengeance against Commodus, who is still in shock to learn that Maximus is still alive. While Commodus yearns to kill Maximus on the spot, he cannot; doing so would cause the watching crowd to develop distaste for his leadership, since the crowd loves Maximus.
Commodus tries to have Maximus killed by paying Tigris of Gaul, a former gladiator, to come back and fight Maximus. Tigris is well known, having earned his freedom by never being defeated. During the match, Colosseum staff approach Maximus from behind, holding tigers by the leash, in order to put Maximus at a disadvantage. Against all expectations, Maximus still wins, but he spares Tigris's life and is declared by the crowd as "Maximus the Merciful" and this further angers Commodus. Commodus goes down to Maximus and has his Praetorians surround him, and launches insults at him, hoping to provoke Maximus into attacking him and giving him the reason he needs to have Maximus killed. Maximus responds by turning his back to Commodus and walking away, a grave insult toward an emperor, and Commodus's own Praetorians show their deference to Maximus by stepping aside for him.
As Maximus is being escorted back to the gladiator's quarters, his former servant Cicero approaches him and says that Maximus still has the loyalty of his army. Commodus's sister Lucilla and the senator Gracchus secure a meeting with Maximus, and Maximus obtains their consent to escape Rome, rejoin his army, topple Commodus by force, and hand power over to the Senate. Commodus, however, suspects a plot against him, and forces Lucilla to confess it by threatening to kill her son. Praetorians close in upon the gladiator quarters before Maximus can leave. Proximo, loyal to Maximus, refuses to open the gate in order to buy Maximus time to escape. When the Praetorians break through, Proximo's gladiators assault them in order to give Maximus more time. The Praetorians kill Hagen and many others, and find and butcher Proximo. Maximus reaches the rendezvous place, but it is already staked out by Praetorians. Cicero is killed and Maximus is captured.
Commodus, desperate to kill Maximus and to restore his own glory, arranges to have a duel with him. Before the fight begins, Commodus stabs Maximus in the side, leaving him severely weakened, but also in the process hints to killing his own father in Quintus's presence. During the fight, Maximus still manages to dodge Commodus's blows and disarm him. Commodus asks the Praetorians to give him a sword, but Quintus, fed up with Commodus, orders them to sheathe their swords. Commodus produces a hidden stiletto, but Maximus turns the blade back into Commodus's throat, killing him.
Maximus succumbs to the stab wound and dies, asking with his last words that the Roman Republic be restored, the slaves be freed, and senator Gracchus be reinstated. As he dies, he has a vision of walking through a field of grain and being finally reunited with his wife and son in the afterlife. Lucilla has the body of Maximus carried out for an honorable burial while the crowd stands in respect. Some time later, Juba revisits the Colosseum at night, and he buries Maximus's two small figurines of his wife and son at the spot where he died. He promises that he will see Maximus again, "but not yet."
- Russell Crowe as Aelius Maximus Decimus Meridius: a Hispano-Roman legatus forced into becoming a slave who seeks revenge against Commodus. He had been under the favor of Marcus Aurelius, and the love and admiration of Lucilla prior to the events of the film. His home is near Trujillo in today's Province of Cáceres, Spain. After the murder of his family he vows vengeance. Maximus is a fictional character partly inspired by Marcus Nonius Macrinus, Narcissus, Spartacus, Cincinnatus, and Maximus of Hispania. Mel Gibson was first offered the role, but declined as he felt he was too old to play the character. Antonio Banderas and Hugh Jackman were also considered.
- Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus: The corrupted, twisted, immoral son of Marcus Aurelius, he murders his father when he learns that Maximus will hold the emperor's powers in trust until a new senate can be formed. Jude Law was considered for the role.
- Connie Nielsen as Lucilla: Maximus's former lover and the older child of Marcus Aurelius. Lucilla has been recently widowed. She resists her brother's incestuous advances for she hates him, while also having to be careful to protect her son, Lucius, from her brother's wrath.
- Oliver Reed as Antonius Proximo: An old, gruff gladiator trainer who buys Maximus in North Africa. A former gladiator himself, he was freed by Marcus Aurelius, and gives Maximus his own armor and eventually a chance at freedom. This was Reed's final film; he died during filming. In the original script, Proximo was supposed to live.
- Derek Jacobi as Senator Gracchus: One of the senators who opposes Commodus's rule.
- Djimon Hounsou as Juba: A Numidian tribesman who was taken from his home and family by slave traders. He becomes Maximus's closest ally and friend.
- David Schofield as Senator Falco: A Patrician, a senator opposed to Gracchus. He helps Commodus to consolidate his power.
- John Shrapnel as Gaius: Another senator who is in close correspondence to Gracchus.
- Tomas Arana as General Quintus: Another Roman legatus, who served under and was the former friend to Maximus. Made commander of the Praetorian guards by Commodus, earning his loyalty. In the extended version, he sees the mad side of the Emperor when he is forced to execute two innocent men. Quintus later redeems himself by refusing to allow Commodus a sword during his duel with Maximus.
- Ralf Möller as Hagen: A Germanic warrior and Proximo's chief gladiator who later befriends Maximus and Juba during their battles in Rome.
- Spencer Treat Clark as Lucius Verus: The young son of Lucilla. He is named after his father Lucius Verus. He is also the grandson of Marcus Aurelius.
- David Hemmings as Cassius: the man who runs the gladiatorial games in the Colosseum and is the arena announcer.
- Tommy Flanagan as Cicero: Maximus's loyal servant who provides him with information while Maximus is enslaved. He was used as bait for an escaping Maximus and eventually killed.
- Sven-Ole Thorsen as Tigris of Gaul: An undefeated gladiator who is called out of retirement to kill Maximus.
- Richard Harris as Marcus Aurelius: An emperor of Rome who appoints Maximus, whom he loves as a son, with the ultimate aim of returning Rome to a republican form of government. He is murdered by his son Commodus before his wish can be fulfilled.
- Omid Djalili as a slave trader.
- Giannina Facio as Maximus's wife.
- Giorgio Cantarini as Maximus's son.
- Tony Curran as Assassin #1
Gladiator was based on an original pitch by David Franzoni, who wrote the first draft. Franzoni was given a three-picture deal with DreamWorks as writer and co-producer on the strength of his previous work, Steven Spielberg's Amistad, which helped establish the reputation of DreamWorks. Not a classical scholar, Franzoni was inspired by Daniel P. Mannix’s 1958 novel Those About to Die, and he chose to base his story on Commodus after reading the Augustan History. In Franzoni's first draft, dated April 4, 1998, he named his protagonist Narcissus, a wrestler who, according to the ancient sources Herodian and Cassius Dio, strangled Emperor Commodus to death.
Ridley Scott was approached by producers Walter F. Parkes and Douglas Wick. They showed him a copy of Jean-Léon Gérôme's 1872 painting entitled Pollice Verso (Thumbs Down). Scott was enticed by filming the world of Ancient Rome. However, Scott felt Franzoni's dialogue was too "on the nose" (lacking subtlety) and hired John Logan to rewrite the script to his liking. Logan rewrote much of the first act, and made the decision to kill off Maximus's family to increase the character's motivation.
Russell Crowe describes being eager for the role as pitched by Walter F. Parkes, in his interview for Inside the Actors Studio: "They said, 'It's a 100-million-dollar film. You're being directed by Ridley Scott. You play a Roman General.' I've always been a big fan of Ridley's."
With two weeks to go before filming, the actors complained of problems with the script. William Nicholson was brought to Shepperton Studios to make Maximus a more sensitive character, reworking his friendship with Juba and developed the afterlife thread in the film, saying "he did not want to see a film about a man who wanted to kill somebody."
The screenplay faced many rewrites and revisions. Crowe allegedly questioned every aspect of the evolving script and strode off the set when he did not get answers. According to a DreamWorks executive, "(Russell Crowe) tried to rewrite the entire script on the spot. You know the big line in the trailer, 'In this life or the next, I will have my vengeance'? At first he absolutely refused to say it." Nicholson, the third and final screenwriter, says Crowe told him, "Your lines are garbage but I'm the greatest actor in the world, and I can make even garbage sound good." Nicholson goes on to say that "probably my lines were garbage, so he was just talking straight."
Russell Crowe described the script situation: "I read the script and it was substantially underdone. Even the character didn't exist on the pages. And that set about a long process, that's probably the first time that I've been in a situation where the script wasn't a complete done deal. We actually started shooting with about 32 pages and went through them in the first couple of weeks."
Of the writing/filming process, Crowe added, "Possibly, a lot of the stuff that I have to deal with now in terms of my quote unquote volatility has to do with that experience. Here was a situation where we got to Morocco with a crew of 200 and a cast of a 100 or whatever, and I didn't have anything to learn. I actually didn't know what the scenes were gonna be. We had, I think, one American writer working on it, one English writer working on it, and of course a group of producers who were also adding their ideas, and then Ridley himself; and then, on the occasion where Ridley would say, 'Look, this is the structure for it -- what are you gonna say in that?' So then I'd be doing my own stuff, as well. And this is how things like, 'Strength and honor,' came up. This is how things like, 'At my signal, unleash hell,' came up. The name Maximus Decimus Meridius, it just flowed well."
In preparation for filming, Scott spent several months developing storyboards to develop the framework of the plot. Over six weeks, production members scouted various locations within the extent of the Roman Empire before its collapse, including Italy, France, North Africa, and England. All of the film's props, sets, and costumes were manufactured by crew members due to high costs and unavailability of the items. One hundred suits of steel armour and 550 suits in polyurethane were made by Rod Vass and his company Armordillo. The unique sprayed-polyurethane system was developed by Armordillo and pioneered for this production. Over a three-month period, 27,500 component pieces of armor were made.
The film was shot in three main locations between January–May 1999. The opening battle scenes in the forests of Germania were shot in three weeks in the Bourne Woods, near Farnham, Surrey in England. When Scott learned that the Forestry Commission planned to remove the forest, he convinced them to allow the battle scene to be shot there and burn it down. Scott and cinematographer John Mathieson used multiple cameras filming at various frame rates and a 45-degree shutter, creating stop motion effects in the action sequences, similar to techniques used for the battle sequences of Saving Private Ryan (1998). Subsequently, 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. 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. Finally, the scenes of Ancient Rome were shot over a period of nineteen weeks in Fort Ricasoli, Malta.
In Malta, a replica of about one-third of Rome's Colosseum was built, to a height of 52 feet (15.8 meters), mostly from plaster and plywood (the other two-thirds and remaining height were added digitally). The replica took several months to build and cost an estimated $1 million. The reverse side of the complex supplied a rich assortment of Ancient Roman street furniture, colonnades, gates, statuary, and marketplaces for other filming requirements. The complex was serviced by tented "costume villages" that had changing rooms, storage, armorers, and other facilities. The rest of the Colosseum was created in computer-generated imagery using set-design blueprints and textures referenced from live action, and rendered in three layers to provide lighting flexibility for compositing in Flame and Inferno software.
British post-production company The Mill was responsible for much of the computer-generated imagery effects that were added after filming. The company was responsible for such tricks as compositing real tigers filmed on bluescreen into the fight sequences, and adding smoke trails and extending the flight paths of the opening scene's salvo of flaming arrows to get around regulations on how far they could be shot during filming. They also used 2,000 live actors to create a computer-generated crowd of 35,000 virtual actors that had to look believable and react to fight scenes. The Mill accomplished this by shooting live actors at different angles giving various performances, and then mapping them onto cards, with motion-capture tools used to track their movements for three-dimensional compositing. The Mill created over 90 visual effects shots, comprising approximately nine minutes of the film's running time.
An unexpected post-production job was caused by the death of Oliver Reed of a heart attack during the filming in Malta, before all his scenes had been shot. The Mill created a digital body double for the remaining scenes involving his character Proximo by photographing a live action body-double in the shadows and by mapping a three-dimensional computer-generated imagery mask of Reed's face to the remaining scenes during production at an estimated cost of $3.2 million for two minutes of additional footage. Visual effects supervisor John Nelson reflected on the decision to include the additional footage: "What we did was small compared to our other tasks on the film. What Oliver did was much greater. He gave an inspiring, moving performance. All we did was help him finish it." The film is dedicated to Reed's memory.
The film is loosely based on historical events. In making the film Ridley Scott wanted to portray the Roman culture more accurately than in any previous film; to that end he hired several historians as advisors. Nevertheless, some deviations from historical fact were made to increase interest, maintain narrative continuity, or for practical or safety reasons. Due to previous Hollywood movies' affecting the public perception of what ancient Rome was like, some historical facts were "too unbelievable" to include, according to Scott. At least one historical advisor resigned due to the changes made, and another asked not to be mentioned in the credits (though it was stated in the director's commentary that he constantly asked, "where is the proof that certain things were exactly like they say?"). Historian Allen Ward of the University of Connecticut believed that historical accuracy would not have made Gladiator less interesting or exciting, saying, "creative artists need to be granted some poetic license, but that should not be a permit for the wholesale disregard of facts in historical fiction".
Marcus Aurelius died of plague at Vindobona; he was not murdered by his son Commodus. So, while in the movie, Commodus strangles his father Marcus Aurelius, in historic truth Marcus Aurelius allowed his immoral son to become emperor, knowing of his moral faults. Thus, the great philosopher emperor ended the beneficent tradition of previous Adoptive Emperors. The character of Maximus is fictional, although in some respects he resembles the historical figures Narcissus (the character's name in the first draft of the screenplay and Commodus's real-life murderer), Spartacus (who led a significant slave revolt), Cincinnatus (a farmer who became dictator, saved Rome from invasion, then resigned his six-month appointment after 15 days), and Marcus Nonius Macrinus (a trusted general, Consul of AD 154, and friend of Marcus Aurelius). Although Commodus engaged in show combat in the Colosseum, he was strangled by the wrestler Narcissus in his bath, not killed in the arena, and reigned for several years, unlike the brief period shown in the film.
The character of Maximus had a similar career (and personality traits as documented by Herodian) to Claudius Pompeianus (a Syrian) who married Marcus Aurelius' daughter Lucilla following the death of Lucius Verus. It is believed Aurelius may have wanted Pompeianus to succeed him as Caesar in preference to Commodus but was turned down. Pompeianus had no part in any of the many plots against Commodus. He was not depicted in the film.
Antonius Proximo claims "the wise" Marcus Aurelius banned gladiatorial games which forced him to scratch out a living in the colonies. Marcus did ban the games in Antioch as punishment for their supporting rebel Avidius Cassius, but this had no effect on Rome. Marcus, however, did cause a shortage of Gladiators by conscripting them into the army, which resulted in Lanistas such as Proximo making "windfall" profits through increased charges for their services.
The costumes are almost never completely historically correct. The soldiers wear fantasy helmets and bands wrapped around their lower arms which were rarely worn. From early on such bands typically signaled "antiquity" in monumental movies. Keeping in mind that the movie is set in the middle of the 2nd century AD, the body armor worn is Imperial Gallic, which was used by Roman legions from 75 AD and was superseded by a new design in 100 AD. The ancient German uniforms appear to be from the stone-age period. Stirrups are used by the Roman cavalry, but were unknown to the Romans; they were used in the movie for safety reasons, a proper Roman saddle being difficult to ride. Catapults and ballistae would not have been used in a forest. They were rarely used in open battles and reserved primarily for sieges.
Conversely, in an early version of the script, gladiators would be doing product endorsements in the arena; while this would have been historically accurate, this practice was left out for fear that audiences would think it anachronistic.
The Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine (completed in 312), along with many other buildings seen in the "bird eye" view of Rome, didn't exist at the time when Gladiator was supposed to have taken place.
The film's plot was influenced by two 1960s Hollywood films of the sword-and-sandal genre, The Fall of the Roman Empire and Spartacus, and shares several plot points with The Fall of the Roman Empire, which tells the story of Livius, who, like Maximus in Gladiator, is Marcus Aurelius's intended successor. Livius is in love with Lucilla and seeks to marry her while Maximus, who is happily married, was formerly in love with her. Both films portray the death of Marcus Aurelius as an assassination. In Fall of the Roman Empire a group of conspirators independent of Commodus, hoping to profit from Commodus's accession, arrange for Marcus Aurelius to be poisoned; in Gladiator Commodus himself murders his father by smothering him. In the course of Fall of the Roman Empire Commodus unsuccessfully seeks to win Livius over to his vision of empire in contrast to that of his father, but continues to employ him notwithstanding; in Gladiator, when Commodus fails to secure Maximus's allegiance, he executes Maximus's wife and son and tries unsuccessfully to execute him. Livius in Fall of the Roman Empire and Maximus in Gladiator kill Commodus in single combat, Livius to save Lucilla and Maximus to avenge the murder of his wife and son, and both do it for the greater good of Rome.
Scott attributed Spartacus and Ben-Hur as influences on the film: "These movies were part of my cinema-going youth. But at the dawn of the new millennium, I thought this might be the ideal time to revisit what may have been the most important period of the last two thousand years – if not all recorded history – the apex and beginning of the decline of the greatest military and political power the world has ever known."
Spartacus provides the film's gladiatorial motif, as well as the character of Senator Gracchus, a fictitious senator (bearing the name of a pair of revolutionary Tribunes 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 autocrat –Marcus Licinius Crassus in Spartacus and Commodus in Gladiator. Both actors who played Gracchus (in Spartacus and Gladiator), played Claudius in previous films – Charles Laughton of Spartacus played Claudius in the unfinished 1937 film I, Claudius and Sir Derek Jacobi of Gladiator, played Claudius in the 1976 BBC adaptation. Both films also share a specific set piece, wherein a gladiator (Maximus here, Woody Strode's Draba in Spartacus) throws his weapon into a spectator box at the end of a match, as well as at least one line of dialogue: "Rome is the mob", said here by Gracchus and by Julius Caesar (John Gavin) in Spartacus.
The film's depiction of Commodus's entry into Rome borrows imagery from Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will (1935), although Ridley Scott has pointed out that the iconography of Nazi rallies was of course inspired by the Roman Empire. Gladiator reflects back on the film by duplicating similar events that occurred in Adolf Hitler's procession. The Nazi film opens with an aerial view of Hitler arriving in a plane, while Scott shows an aerial view of Rome, quickly followed by a shot of the large crowd of people watching Commodus pass them in a procession with his chariot. The first thing to appear in Triumph of the Will is a Nazi eagle, which is alluded to when a statue of an eagle sits atop one of the arches (and then is shortly followed by several more decorative eagles throughout the rest of the scene) leading up to the procession of Commodus. At one point in the Nazi film, a little girl gives flowers to Hitler, while Commodus is met by several girls who all give him bundles of flowers.
A clip from the score of the 2000 film Gladiator.
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listen to a clip from the score of Gladiator.
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The Oscar-nominated score was composed by Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard, and conducted by Gavin Greenaway. Zimmer was originally planning to use Israeli vocalist Ofra Haza for the score, after his work with her in The Prince of Egypt. However, Ofra tragically died in her early 40s in late February 2000, before she was able to record anything, and so Gerrard was chosen instead. Lisa Gerrard's vocals are similar to her own work on The Insider score. The music for many of the battle scenes has been noted as similar to Gustav Holst's "Mars: The Bringer of War", and in June 2006, the Holst Foundation sued Hans Zimmer for allegedly copying the late Holst's work. Another close musical resemblance occurs in the scene of Commodus's triumphal entry into Rome, accompanied by music clearly evocative of two sections – the Prelude to Das Rheingold and Siegfried's Funeral March from Götterdämmerung – from Wagner's Ring of the Nibelungs. The "German" war chant in the opening scene was borrowed from the 1964 film Zulu, one of Ridley Scott's favorite movies. On February 27, 2001, nearly a year after the first soundtrack's release, Decca produced Gladiator: More Music From the Motion Picture. Then, on September 5, 2005, Decca produced Gladiator: Special Anniversary Edition, a two-CD pack containing both the above mentioned releases. Some of the music from the film was featured in the NFL playoffs in January 2003 before commercial breaks and before and after half-time. In 2003, Luciano Pavarotti released a recording of himself singing a song from the film and said he regretted turning down an offer to perform on the soundtrack. The soundtrack is one of the best selling film scores of all time.
Gladiator received mostly positive reviews, with 76% of the critics polled by Rotten Tomatoes giving it favorable reviews, with an averaged score of 7 out of 10. At the website Metacritic, which employs a normalized rating system, the film earned a favorable rating of 64/100 based on 37 reviews by mainstream critics. The Battle of Germania was cited by CNN as one of their "favorite on-screen battle scenes", while Entertainment Weekly named Maximus as their sixth favorite action hero, because of "Crowe's steely, soulful performance", and named it as their third favorite revenge film. In December 2000, Gladiator was named the best film of the year by viewers of Film 2000, taking 40% of the votes. In 2002, a Channel 4 (UK TV) poll named it as the sixth greatest film of all time. Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "Are you not entertained?".
It was not without its deriders. Roger Ebert gave the film 2 out of 4 stars, and criticized the look of the film as "muddy, fuzzy, and indistinct." He also derided the writing claiming it "employs depression as a substitute for personality, and believes that if characters are bitter and morose enough, we won't notice how dull they are." Camille Paglia called the film "boring, badly shot and suffused with sentimental p.c. rubbish."
The film earned US$34.83 million on its opening weekend at 2,938 U.S. theaters. Within two weeks, the film's box office gross surpassed its US $103 million budget. The film continued on to become one of the highest earning films of 2000 and made a worldwide box office gross of US$ 457,640,427, with over US$ 187 million in American theaters and more than the equivalent of US$269 million in non-US markets.
The film won five Academy Awards and was nominated for an additional seven, including Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor for Joaquin Phoenix and Best Director for Ridley Scott. It was the first movie to win Best Picture without winning either a directing or screenwriting award since All the King's Men at the 22nd Academy Awards in 1950. In 2003, Chicago became the another Best Picture winner which didn't win an Academy Award in either of these two major categories. There was controversy over the film's nomination for Best Music, Original Score. The award was officially nominated only to Hans Zimmer, and not to Lisa Gerrard due to Academy rules, at the time. However, the pair did win the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score as co-composers.
- 73rd Academy Awards
- BAFTA Awards
- Best Cinematography
- Best Editing
- Best Film
- Best Production Design
- 58th Golden Globe Awards
- Best Motion Picture – Drama
- Best Original Score – Motion Picture
- American Film Institute Lists
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains:
- General Maximus Decimus Meridius – #50 Hero
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
- "Father to a murdered son. Husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next." – Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores – Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers – Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – Nominated
- AFI's 10 Top 10 – Nominated Epic Film
The film's mainstream success is responsible for an increased interest in Roman and classical history in the United States. According to The New York Times, this has been dubbed the "Gladiator Effect".
It's called the 'Gladiator' effect by writers and publishers. The snob in us likes to believe that it is always books that spin off movies. Yet in this case, it's the movies – most recently Gladiator two years ago – that have created the interest in the ancients. And not for more Roman screen colossals, but for writing that is serious or fun or both."
The Cicero biography Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician and Gregory Hays's translation of Marcus Aurelius's Meditations received large spikes in sales after the release of the film. The film also began a revival of the historical epic genre with films such as Troy, The Alamo, King Arthur, Alexander, 300, Kingdom of Heaven and Robin Hood (the last two were also directed by Scott). The character of Maximus was placed 12th in the Total Film list of 50 best movie heroes and villains and 35th in the Empire's 100 Greatest Movie Characters. Maximus is also featured on 55c "Australian Legends" postage stamp series. Russell Crowe attended a ceremony to mark the creation of the stamps.
The film was first released on DVD on November 20, 2000, and has since been released in several different extended and special edition versions. Special features for the Blu-ray Disc and DVDs include deleted scenes, trailers, documentaries, commentaries, storyboards, image galleries, Easter eggs, and cast auditions. The film was released on Blu-ray in September 2009, in a 2-disc edition containing both the theatrical and extended cuts of the film, as part of Paramount's "Sapphire Series" (Paramount bought the DreamWorks library in 2006). Initial reviews of the Blu-ray Disc release criticized poor image quality, leading many to call for it to be remastered, as Sony did with The Fifth Element in 2007. A remastered version was later released in 2010.
The DVD editions that have been released since the original two-disc version, include a film only single-disc edition as well as a three-disc "extended edition" DVD which was released in August 2005. The extended edition DVD features approximately fifteen minutes of additional scenes, most of which appear in the previous release as deleted scenes. The original cut, which Scott still calls his director's cut, is also select-able via seamless branching (which is not included on the UK edition). The DVD is also notable for having a new commentary track featuring director Scott and star Crowe. The film is on the first disc, the second one has a three-hour documentary into the making of the film by DVD producer Charles de Lauzirika, and the third disc contains supplements. Discs one and two of the three-disc extended edition were also repackaged and sold as a two-disc "special edition" in the EU in 2005.
In June 2001, Douglas Wick said a Gladiator prequel was in development. The following year, Wick, Walter Parkes, David Franzoni, and John Logan switched direction to a sequel set fifteen years later; the Praetorian Guards rule Rome and an older Lucius is trying to learn who his real father was. However, Russell Crowe was interested in resurrecting Maximus, and further researched Roman beliefs about the afterlife to accomplish this. Ridley Scott expressed interest, although he admitted the project would have to be retitled as it had little to do with gladiators. An easter egg contained on disc 2 of the extended edition / special edition DVD releases includes a discussion of possible scenarios for a follow-up. This includes a suggestion by Walter F. Parkes that, in order to enable Russell Crowe to return to play Maximus, who dies at the end of the original movie, a sequel could involve a "multi-generational drama about Maximus and the Aureleans and this chapter of Rome", similar in concept to The Godfather Part II.
In 2006, Scott stated he and Crowe approached Nick Cave to rewrite the film, but they had conflicted with DreamWorks's idea of a Lucius spin-off, who Scott revealed would turn out to be Maximus's son with Lucilla. He noted this tale of corruption in Rome was too complex, whereas Gladiator worked due to its simple drive. In 2009, details of Cave's ultimately rejected script surfaced on the internet, suggesting that Maximus would be reincarnated by the Roman gods and returned to Rome to defend Christians against persecution; he would then be transported to other important periods in history, including World War II, the Vietnam War, and finally playing a general in the modern-day Pentagon. However, there was no sequel.
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- Gladiator at the Internet Movie Database
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- Gladiator at Box Office Mojo
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- Gladiator at Rotten Tomatoes
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