There aren’t many historical epics that touched the story of the Roman emperors and the way they ruled over their citizens the way Gladiator does. This one reflects the heinous ways these emperors treated their people, as well as shows how the people sometimes triumphed over these rulers. So, is Gladiator just another tale of revenge or is it something greater? Well, in my opinion, it is a masterpiece yet not for the reason most people think it is.
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The Movie Review
Ever since I was a little kid, I have been a huge fan of history. In particular, the Roman emperors and their history really fascinated me. The unique ways these Caesars, the common word for emperor back in the day in Rome, would rule over their people and the many territories that they would conquer would always excite the history nerd within me. These were stories of violence, blood and betrayal yet also of loyalty, value and valour.
Gladiator is one of such stories, a historical epic following the Roman general Maximus whose life is turned upside down when the emperor is usurped by his own son, Commodus. His family is killed due to his loyalty to the previous emperor and he is sold to slavers as a Gladiator.
However, Maximus swears revenge on the killer of his family and begins climbing up the ranks in the Gladiator world; until he can get his vengeance.
The film is directed by none other than Hollywood sweetheart; Ridley Scott. Scott has dipped his feet into all kinds of genres, but historical epics have always been his specialty. Gladiator is one of the very first historical epics that Ridley Scott made, and safe to say that it’s his best so far.
The film’s aesthetic is full of historical accuracy yet the fictional sides of the story still remain in keeping it entertaining. The Gladiator battles for example are highly stylized yet drowning in historically accurate weaponry and combat methods. The film also had an amazing war sequence at the very start which solidified it as an epic.
Scott’s direction plays a huge part in why this film is the way it is, it flows like water yet go through many different places, events and times. The cast here is absolute perfection. From A-list celebrity actors such as Russell Crowe, to newer talents such as the eccentric villain Commodus played by Joaquin Phoenix. Other actors in the film are Connie Neilsen, Djimon Honsou, Oliver Reed, and Richard Harris.
Russell Crowe’s performance as Maximus puts any of his other performances to shame. Scott not only utilizers Crowe as the best tool in his film, but also pushes him to be better than ever before. He does the same with Joaquin Phoenix, and he pulls an Oscar-worthy performance out of him. Joaquin Phoenix is performance as the emperor Commodus it’s so instrumental to this film success that it cannot be put into words.
John Mathieson’s Cinematography is a huge factor in why this film looks so gorgeous. John’s cinematography focuses on the emotional aspects that the world of the Romans can have as well as the darker aspects. The film shows different areas, from the highest of high palaces to the lowest of places such as slave owners and their dens.
The production design team does a great job of making all of these sets as realistic as possible, and give them a hugely different aesthetic than in any other film. The large open plains and the design of ancient Roman architecture-based sets make this film very beautiful to look at.
How can we talk about Gladiator without talking about Hans Zimmer’s Epic soundtrack? The soundtrack brings a huge emotional weight to the film, and some sombre moments are also highlighted by this soundtrack. This versatile soundtrack is by far one of the best soundtracks in any historical film ever released.
The Bottom Line
So in conclusion, Gladiator is one of the best historical epic films to ever come out. The film is a testament to Ridley Scott’s experience as a film maker, as well as a testament to how historical epics can affect people.
The film went on to win many major awards, including the Oscars. Yet the reason why this film is remembered to this day, is because of the beautiful yet horrifying story that Ridley Scott managed to tell in the form of a film.