Click here to buy Amazon movie bestsellers

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The fighter - Gladiator (2000)

From time to time, there comes a phase in Hollywood when a film of a certain genre becomes successful and we start to see more movies in that genre coming up. Gladiator is one such movie. Who would have thought that a movie about a Roman General as a gladiator, challenging the might of the emperor, would be successful, or even more surprising, win Oscars for performance, and for the Best Picture ? Gladiator did all that. Gladiator was nominated for 12 Oscars, and won 5 of them, including the coveted ones for Best Picture and Best Actor (Russell Crowe). The overall list of Oscar wins are:
* Best Picture
* Best Actor (Russell Crowe)
* Best Visual Effects
* Best Costume Design
* Best Sound

Gladiator Movie
The movie was fairly expensive to make, costing over $100 million to make. And yet, so powerful was the movie, so attracting was the overall story and the overall grandeur of the action movie that it fairly packed in the dollars, earning worldwide over $450 million dollars. It gave a tremendous boost to the image of director Ridley Scott (since the movie received overall positive reviews and besides was a super-duper success), and to the acting pull of the Australian temperamental actor Russell Crowe (who gained immensely from the success of this movie).
Don't look to the movie as being a history lesson. It is universally acknowledged that besides the characters of the late emperor Marcus Aureluis and his power-hungry son Commodus, there is not much accuracy in the names of the other characters, and even the depiction of these 2 characters does not match their real-life careers. At the same time, there is a much better degree of accuracy in the lives of the people of that time, the scenes, the war, and the overall depiction of the life and death of the system of gladiators.
The film was shot in various locations, with a broad division into 3 parts for shooting. The Germanic war scenes was shot in Surrey in England; the scenes of slavery, desert and gladiator training were shot in Morocco, and the scenes of Ancient Rome were shot in Malta (including building a replica of the Colosseum).
The film starred the following actors, Russell Crowe playing General Maximus Decimus Meridius; Joaquin Phoenix as the murderous emperor Commodus; Oliver Reed as Proximo (the head of a gladiator school); Richard Harris as the wise emperor Marcus Aurelius; and Connie Nielsen as Lucilla (the sister of the emperor).
The movie is essentially a story of betrayal and revenge. Maximus is the general who wins the Romans a powerful victory in Germany and is a hero. The wise but ailing emperor Marcus Aurelius wants to appoint Maximux as the temporary head so that a transition of power to the Senate can happen. The ambitious son of Marcus, Commodus cannot see power going away from him and kills his father. He offers Maximus a high position, but Maximus refuses. He is ordered to be killed along with his family; Maximus manages to escape, but his family is killed by the emperor. Maximus can only bury their bodies and swear revenge on the new emperor.
Maximus is taken away by slave traders, and eventually becomes a gladiator, to serve for the entertainment of Rome's citizens. After initial reluctance, he fights for self-defense and keeps on rising, finally showing himself to a horrified emperor. When the emperor tries to get him killed in the arena, Maximus manages to always win; there is a great moment when Maximus refuses the order of the emperor to kill a defeated opponent, earning the line 'Today a slave is more powerful than the emperor of Rome'.
Maximus is being supported by Lucilla, the sister of Commodus; when they plot to regain his army and overthrow the emperor, Commodus learns and sends his praetorian guard to attack the gladiator camp and defeat the plot. Maximus manages to escape; and then comes the final moment when the emperor decides that he must prove himself once and for all by defeating Maximus in the ring. He gains an initial advantage by weakening Maximus through a knife before the bout, but eventually is defeated. Maximus does not last much longer, as he can see his dead wife and daughter calling him, he manages to get power reverted to the Senate. And then he dies.
The fight scenes in the movie are tremendous, and there is not much hesitation in showing the blood and gore that results from such gladiatorial contests that were fought to the death. In the bigger fight scenes, the action is much faster and complex, but does not seem chaotic.

Post a Comment