As a proud South Shields dweller I like to think that I am supportive of all of my fellow South Shields folk. However, when it comes to the Scott brothers I’ve got to be honest and say I haven’t seen many of their films at all. Gladiator is one that I’ve always known I would enjoy but the multiple times I’ve sat down to watch it I’ve struggled to get past the first couple of scenes. However, it was on my 100 Movies Bucket List poster so on a cold rainy night with the fire on it seemed like the perfect time to give it another go!
Set during the Roman times with the Empire dominating Maximus (Russell Crowe) is one of the best generals in the army. After defeating the German Barbarians at the end of a very long war Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) asks Maximus what he can offer him as a reward. Maximus’ simple answer to go home to his wife and son was not what he was expecting. The Emperor’s hope were to pass on the Empire to Maximus despite having his son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) as expectant heir. Maximus agrees to think about it overnight and return with an answer; although let’s be honest it looks unlikely he will agree, however, when Commodus learns of the plan, he murders his ill father to prevent anybody else hearing of his plans and takes the Crown for himself. Maximus refuses to serve as a General under the cruel and greedy Commodus, but rather than being free to return home, Commodus sentences him to death.
Maximus is very clever and experienced with fighting and manages to overcome his executioners and escape. However, when he returns home, Commodus has already murdered his wife and son. Whilst he grieves he is captured by slave traders who take him to Africa and sell him to Proximo (Oliver Reed) who owns a gladiator school. The slaves bought by Proximo are set up to be murdered in the amphitheatres for the entertainment of the Romans, however, Maximus unexpectedly fights back.
This is a real action packed film which gets your heart rate going. Joaquin Phoenix plays such a cruel character and I instantly hated him (my boyfriend comment that after re-watching Gladiator he completely understands why Joaquin was cast as the Joker). The way he leered over his sister (Connie Nielsen) made me want to punch him too. Whereas, Crowe got my support by simply being honest and protective of those around him. The film also got a ridiculous amount of awards and nominations, including winning five Oscars!
I really enjoyed it and can’t actually believe it was the first time I successfully watched it. I will definitely watch it again in the future! It would have been nice if there was a bit more a love story, but I also appreciate that it would have taken away from the actual story…