Director - Ridley Scott
Only joking.... I'm talking about different gladiators. The Roman ones.
Rome was a long time ago - this must be the case because Gladiator begins with all the studio logos appearing in sepia tones. So we're talking OLD.
The Roman empire was a tough time, and being Caesar was particularly tough. You had to make sure everything was correct. You had to stop the marauding hordes. And frequently actors would thesbianically lament that the Gods were angry. Caesar 3 was a tough game - but here old man Richard Harris seems to nail the whole God Emperor thing. He is popular. He is powerful. He is doomed.
This is the story of one of Caesar's friends and officers and how he is plunged into big old shit - losing his power, his status, his family and his freedom. The thing that I forgot though was just how bloody dark and bleak and gloomy it is.
11 years had passed since I last saw it, and over time nostalgia had tinged the film as being more fun. The blood and sand and fightings had taken over and meant that I remembered the film to be a bit more of a romp.
It is not a romp at all.
It is in fact
And the horrors of the age (particularly the death of Maximus' family - which leads him to his Gladiator role) - jar with the more cinematic deaths of the battleground.
The battles in the arena are not glorified. This isn't 300 - this is proper 'this shit is real' fighting - with dirty brown sand stained with blood. The audience's celebrations, aren't echoes in the cinematography. The film doesn't want you to relish in the battle. Just witness the plight.
- I say that.... but actually, the more famous Maximus becomes, the more the film seems to forget that. I mean - the tigers don't do much do they? They just look cool?
The fights are impressive - they're violent but not KERRAZY VIOLENT. And they all help to lead Maximus to meet Joaquin Phoenix's ridiculous Emperor Commodus. A man who is trying so hard to do every bad thing. He's like the pantomime villains off The Crow - and he ticks all the boxes of being a bit of a bugger. Specially to his family - what with all that incest and patricide going on.... Phoenix plays him beautifully. In fact, its Commodus' snivelly pathetic neediness that makes him more horrible. It is his motivation which is the real shocker. Not the actual acts....
After all Rome was a tough old place, and that kinda shit happened.
The film's ending suffers from being a little too Po-faced - but there are some beautiful shots (I particularly like Maximus gliding over the desert) - and it leads the story to the only logical resolution....
I just wish they'd had the balls to do Nick Cave's sequel for it. Because it is so bat-shit bonkers, it could have been amazing.
Forget my blog - just read this if you've never read it before. Naturally there will be stuff in it that spoils the first film, if you've not seen it.
All in all - Gladiator is a great film, full of marvellous actors (famous, of course, as the bloody legend Oliver Reed's last film) and visually incredible.
I think it just takes itself too seriously at times.
So.... in conclusion.
My favourite Gladiator was Jet