Sunday, May 9, 2010

Time Capsule Cinema: Gladiator

Gladiator opened in theaters on May 5, 2000, dominating the box office and going on to win many awards

"Today I saw a slave become more powerful than the Emperor of Rome." 

Directed by Ridley Scott, Gladiator is an awesome blend of battle scenes, storytelling, and actor performances. Russell Crowe plays Roman general Maximus Meridias (Richard Harris), who is picked by the dying Emperor Aurelius (Richard Harris) to be the heir and new emperor of Rome instead of his son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Commodus rebels against this arrangement, murders his father, and sentences Maximus to die. Maximus escapes, only to return to his home in Spain to find that his wife and son have been murdered on Commodus' orders. Sold into slavery, Proximo (Oliver Reed, who died during filming) buys Maximus and trains him to be a gladiator. Proximo and the other gladiators do not know about Maximus' background as a general in the Roman Army; they refer to him as the Spaniard. The gladiators eventually end up returning to Rome, where Maximus fights in front of a crowd at the Colosseum that includes Commodus, now the Emperor. Impressed by Maximus (who hides his identity by wearing a mask), Commodus meets the gladiator, and demands that he give his name; Maximus reveals his background and maintains his loyalty to Emperor Aurelius. The Roman crowds in the Colosseum love Maximus, much to the vexation of Commodus. Driven by revenge, Maximus fights so that someday he will be able to kill Commodus and return power to the people of Rome. Gladiator went on to be nominated for 12 Oscars, winning statues for Best Picture, Best Actor (Russell Crowe), Sound, Costume Design, and Visual Effects.

While Crowe previously drew attention and acclaim for his roles in L.A. Confidential and The Insider, Gladiator cemented his status as a bankable leading man. Gladiator was also the beginning of a movie-making partnership between director Scott and Crowe. Since Gladiator the two have worked together on A Good Year, American Gangster, and Body of Lies. Their most recent collaboration, Robin Hood, opens in theaters on Friday.

At Dundee Library we have a three-disc and two-disc set of Gladiator, and you can put either item on hold:
Find it in the catalog!