in about 100 words or less
US 155m, Colour
Director: Ridley Scott; Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, Richard Harris
Gladiator is the fictional story of Maximus Decimus Meridius, a once proud and inspirational general of the Roman Army whose actions after the death of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius result in his being sold into slavery. When learning of the fate of his family at the hands of Commodus, the new Emperor, he uses his unmatched fighting skills in the gladiatorial arena to seek personal revenge. Partly inspired by Spartacus, and other historic figures, the revenge of Maximus is a largely predictable story. While Crowe’s performance is strong, his character Maximus is not nearly as interesting as his nemesis, the new Emperor – the highly egotistical son of Aurelius, whose madness is marvellously portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix. Noted for its battle scenes, which are visually striking, Gladiator set a new standard for the “sword and sandal” Hollywood epic (Klaus Ming May 2011).