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Gladiator (2000)


 The name Gladiator comes from the short sword Gladius
The name Gladiator comes from the short sword Gladius

Genre: Period Action Adventure Drama  

Starring: Russell Crowe (Romper Stomper • L.A. Confidential), Joaquin Phoenix (Walk The LineReservation Road)

Directed By: Ridley Scott (AlienBlade Runner)

Overview: Accomplished military general Maximus has completed his last campaign and looking forward to retirement. The dying emperor Marcus Aurelius asks him for one final favour and put the power of Rome in the hands of the Senate. Aurelius' son Commodus has always dreamed of becoming emperor and, thus, kills his father and orders the death of Maximus. Maximus escapes, but his fate is to become a slave, entertaining Romans as a Gladiator.

When I imagine reading a review of films like Gladiator, I suspect they're about as fun to read as they are to write. Yeah,  the movie's good but you've all seen it. There's nothing really detestable to pick on, even if I try, and though it's not that hard to rant on greatness, doing so for Gladiator is something that should have been done when the film came out. Alas, 1001 Movies Squish Must Review Before He Dies sometimes fails in keeping his audience captive. So Squish needs to come up with a twist, as well as refraining from speaking of himself in the third person. Twist I shall - let me enlighten you on a few tidbits of history. Turns out this is some pretty accurate historical drama.
Gladiator begins by proving to the audience that our hero, Maximus (did I just say there's nothing to pick on? Hello exposition!) really is a hero. Our grand general played by Russel Crowe is indeed a champion worthy of leading an army, or perhaps, with an ironic twist of fate, a band of slaves during the newly reopened gladiatorial games, hence the title. The guy who puts a pain in Maximus' Gluteus  is emperor Commodus played by Joaquin Phoenix. In my research of a worthy yet relevant topical twist, turns out emperor Commodus did in fact exist and was in fact a bit of a gladiator himself.
  • Emperor Commodus was indeed the son of Marcus Aurelius. From 177 to 180 they ruled together until Marcus died, then Commodus became the sole emperor from year 180 to 192. The depraved little man was also a famous and accomplished gladiator with, so it is writ, 735 fights, which I'm sure is an exaggeration of his doing, but he did kill many beasts, including lions, elephants, an ostrich and a giraffe. He had statues erected of himself alongside Hercules. Of course he also slew amputees and wounded men in the arena. Apparently this didn't go over well with the public. It's not a surprise that this guy was also a tyrant, and yes he actually did have a thing for his sister in real life as he did in the film. Icky.
  • In the film it is mentioned that Marcus Aurelius legislated the end of the gladiatorial games. When Commodus comes into power, he commemorates his new reign with 150 days of Games. Historically Marcus Aurelius did try to put an end to the games, and his son did in fact quash that idea when he came into power.
  • His sister did in fact try to kill him, and, in failing, was exiled Then for good measure Commodus had her killed anyways.
  • Gladiators had different classes:
    • There was the Hoplomachus. He was armed like a Greek Hoplite, with sword and spear as weapons.
    • There was the Murmillo, so named for his fish shaped helmet. The weapon used was the short sword or Gladius.
    • The Secutores (chasers) class was much the same as the Murmillo; however, they were specifically trained to fight the Retiarius.
    • The Retiarius (net fighters) fought with a net and trident. Representing Neptune, they usually fought the Secutores who represented Vulcan. These battles were symbolic of Water against Fire.
    • There were many other types too, like the Thraex. The Bestiarii were a class specialized to fighting beasts. Here's a complete list.
  • In Gladiator, the slave owner Proximo is seen treasuring a wooden sword. This sword is called the rudis, and is given to a slave when he has been given his freedom. Some of these gladiators kept fighting in the arena, some became trainers or referees and in the case of Proximo, some became wealthy merchants.
  • Yes Gladiatrixes existed but they were rare.
The name Commodore 64 comes from Emperor Commodus... Yes it does... shut up!
The name Commodore 64 comes from Emperor Commodus... Yes it does... shut up!

Performance: 8 Cinematography: 9 Script: 7 Plot: 8 Mood: 8

Overall Rating: 80% (Glad I Watched 'Er)

P.S. Gladiators... Definitely a cool bunch of guys, even if most of them are slaves forced into deadly service.

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