Strength and Honour!
A successful Spanish general in the Roman Army finds himself promoted to emperor and then betrayed in quick succession.
With his family slain, the captured and enslaved warrior must find the strength and purpose to live.
A desire for revenge is all that keeps him going as his immense skills carry him forward through the arena of the Gladiator.
Maximus (Russell Crowe) fights as a gladiator , hoping to avenge his betrayal by new Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) but as he rises in the gladiator ranks he learns that his skill will get him through the arena but not to his hearts desire.
To face and kill the Emperor he will need help.
I have no idea how historically accurate the story is, the little research I have done implies that the they’ve taken a salient point – starting with Emperor Commodus and his love of Gladiators and basically run with it. Ridley Scott says that his inspiration is the painting “Pollice Verso” by Jean-Léon Gérôme.
The director takes all this and an excellent script from David Franzoni and John Logan and turns a marvellous action adventure. Cinematography is superb and atmospheric throughout and the skils of the actors help you believe in the characters, even across such a long movie, 2 hours 44 minutes. Indeed with Oliver Reed, Richard Harris and Derek Jacobi lending stunning support to Phoenix and Crowe the cast is almost faultless.
The DVD is the most feature rich I have seen, with two additional DVDs running to an unbelievable 4 hours and 50 minutes, though some of the articles overlap, several on costumes for example, but if you have a day of your life to spare then there is a lot here about the film making arts, particularly the historical epic.
Things to look out for: many fight scenes, battles, historical settings, patricide, maggots, cheating, Oliver Reed, look out for Spencer Treat Parker (also in Unbreakable) as the young Lucius
Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris, Connie Nielsen, Derek Jacobi,
Rating: violent but extremely well produced historical epic, very highly recommended