Gladiator (2000)
November 29, 2022 8:43 AM - Subscribe

[TRAILER] Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) takes power and strips rank from Maximus (Russell Crowe), one of the favored generals of his predecessor and father, Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the great stoical philosopher. Maximus is then relegated to fighting to the death in the gladiator arenas.

Also starring Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou.

Directed by Ridley Scott. Screenplay by David Franzoni, John Logan, and William Nicholson.

79% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Paramount Plus and Netflix. Also available for digital rental in the US on multiple outlets. JustWatch listing.

Today, I'm posting six movies that won the Oscar for Best Picture that have not yet been added to FF.
posted by DirtyOldTown (19 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Bonus: Russell Crowe is good friends with Nick Cave. He asked Cave (who has done some screenwriting, notably The Proposition, which is *****/*****) to take a pass at writing a sequel, despite the fact that his character died in the original and there were essentially no loose threads.

Cave turned in a positively bonkers script where Maximus "goes down to purgatory and is sent down by the gods, who are dying in heaven because there’s this one god, there’s this Christ character, down on Earth who is gaining popularity and so the many gods are dying so they send Gladiator back to kill Christ and his followers.”
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:52 AM on November 29, 2022 [11 favorites]

Y’know it was pretty brave of Ridley Scott to make a serious sword and sandals movie after the onslaught of badly dubbed Italian ones from the early 60s. Only 79% on Rotten Tomatoes? Go ahead, see if you can deliver a line like “ Brothers, what we do in life... echoes in eternity” and not be laughed out of the theater.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:14 AM on November 29, 2022 [2 favorites]

I was an art history grad student when this came out. Many of us who were focusing on other time periods were still passionate about classical art, and I went to Rome that year with several of them. Needless to say, this was a big favorite in my peer group and I still count it as a favorite movie.

My taste in movies and books can frequently be described as Your Dad Loves It Too, so it's not a big surprise.
posted by PussKillian at 12:14 PM on November 29, 2022

I liked the soundtrack.

But yeah, waaay too many 'Braveheart'-isms.
posted by porpoise at 12:17 PM on November 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

Now I kind of want to see (a sweded) Nick Cave sequel - with a present day Crowe who fattened up in Purgatory.
posted by porpoise at 12:20 PM on November 29, 2022

I get why this movie is popular and admired, but it is yet another movie you do not want to watch with me. its one thing to speculate about historical gaps, but to just change known history is irksome to me.
posted by supermedusa at 1:43 PM on November 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

Apparently in the famous scene where he reveals his identity to Commodus he was originally scripted to say "Hi! It's me! Maxi!?"
posted by biffa at 3:29 PM on November 29, 2022

But yeah, waaay too many 'Braveheart'-isms.

Maybe this hit me at the wrong time but yeah my overriding thought when watching this was that it was knock-off Braveheart now in Ancient Rome and with Kiwi Russell Crowe instead of Aussie Mel Gibson. I haven't seen any of the other best picture nominees for that year but surely they were all better than this.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:08 PM on November 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

I'll give the movie this much: "Are you not entertained?" is not only a serviceable meme but wonderfully self-reflective. By contrast, Braveheart's "Every man dies, not every man really lives" comes off as cheap motivational-speaker stuff.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:38 PM on November 29, 2022

Gladiator is a favorite. But it is another movie that really shouldn't have been made by Ridley Scott. His fingerprints are all over which is distracting at best and detracting at worst.
posted by Stuka at 9:53 PM on November 29, 2022

I forget where this thread was (maybe Twitter if not Ask) but this was high up the list of the most DVD movies of all time. (The Matrix, Spinal Tap, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail were other strong contenders)
posted by TwoWordReview at 10:40 PM on November 29, 2022

Ah there it is
posted by TwoWordReview at 10:49 PM on November 29, 2022

I saw this with a college friend who choreographed and performed stage combat for a living. He had many, many, many things to say about the combat after (most of which were rants against Ridley Scott's editing, more so than the combat itself).

When I visited Rome, I went on a guided tour of the Coliseum; the guide took our group around the outer "lobby" of the stadium first, and then gathered us all at the spot where the gladiators were supposed to have marched in. He had a little speaker on his iPhone, and right before he lead us all in, he switched it on and queued up the theme to Gladiator so it was playing as we all walked through the short tunnel into the Coliseum proper. And - honest to God, for a split second that kinda Did Something to me.

....I've also read somewhere that right before they started filming the Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line, they brought Johnny Cash to meet the cast; apparently when Cash was introduced to Joaquin Phoenix, Cash grinned and then quoted, "Are you not entertained?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:58 AM on November 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

I was in the middle of getting my B.A. in classics when this came out, so I felt I was, sort of, professionally obligated to both see it and to dislike it. I agree with the Braveheart comparisons.

Still, about weekly I find myself muttering to my two small children "Are you not edu-tained?"
posted by gauche at 8:38 AM on November 30, 2022 [1 favorite]


I wish it was a funnier 8 minutes but it gets to the yuckiness I felt about Joaquin Phoenix's obviously queer-coded villain when I saw this in the theater. Love gladiator movies tho, so it got a pass.
posted by mediareport at 3:42 PM on November 30, 2022

posted by biffa at 5:35 AM on December 3, 2022

Agreed it's one of the DVDest DVD movies ever.

This movie without the music just wouldn't work, so much is conveyed through the score. I really like the arc where he goes general->slave->gladiator, but the ending with the fight against Comodus is lacking in tension, after the reveal of identity it's like the movie doesn't know how to finish. For all its flaws, this movie has MOMENTS, parts where images, words & music come together to create something powerful. Most movie don't even have one of those, this movie has several, just for this, this is a great movie.

Seriously, I'd love to know if they had the music written from the "My name is Maximus...." speech, or if they just edited it really well. The pacing goes so well with the music.

Oh yeah it's not accurate, couldn't care less.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 6:54 AM on December 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

Finally got around to watching this one.

most of which were rants against Ridley Scott's editing

Agreed, much of the film's combat tries to evoke the emotion of combat rather than demonstrate Maximus's skill. Shots last one or two seconds, the camera is shakey, the angles not particularly insightful, and by the the end of each gladiator scene I'm mostly left wondering Max's survival is skill or luck, because I couldn't see shit.

I honestly get the impression that each battle had less and less choreography invested into it. The Germanic war scene was incredibly long and Max's escape from the praetors highly scripted with ninja-like accuracy, and from there it goes downhill. I think we can all agree the fourth tiger trap door in the arena was unnecessary for the plot.

Politics wise, I think people saw a parallel between Commodus and W. Bush -- both holders of the highest office who seemingly inherited the position. With 20 years of hindsight, that was a reach. If the film had really intended to be political commentary, they would have gone with the fasces instead of eagles, IMO. And with the sequel set for a Thanksgiving release next year, it seems inevitable that comparisons will be made to the US election cycle.

I haven't seen any of the other best picture nominees for that year but surely they were all better than this.

I've seen Crouching Tiger and it's good, but I don't recall it having political themes that would appeal to the Academy voters. Traffic I've seen and may have been too ambitious for its own good -- three interlocking plots is hard on the audience, even with the color coding. The other nominees I've not seen but can't imagine a romance film or "based on real life events" film winning best picture.
posted by pwnguin at 12:40 PM on November 24, 2023

I think we can all agree the fourth tiger trap door in the arena was unnecessary for the plot.

Maybe unnecessary for the plot, but it is historically accurate. The Colosseum tour I mentioned above included a tour of the "backstage" area under the floor, which included a couple such trap doors and a look at the holding pens where the Romans had kept all kinds of critters. Our guide said that sometimes they still find all kinds of random non-native plants growing in them - several generations after some seeds were first shat out by a hippo or elephant or some other beast.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:33 AM on November 25, 2023

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