Cert:15 Runtime: 155 mins Director: Ridley Scott Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris and Djimon Hounsou
What we do in life echoes in eternity
Ridley Scott is back this week with The Counsellor. Gladiator for me is his third most accomplished film for me after Alien and Blade Runner. So it’s this weeks blast from the past. What is Gladiator? Victorious general Maximus Decimus Meridias (Russell Crowe) has been named keeper of Rome and its empire by dying emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris), so that rule might pass from the Caesars back to the people and Senate. Marcus’ neglected and power-hungry son, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), has other ideas, however. Escaping an ordered execution, Maximus hurries back to his home in Spain, too late to save his wife and son from the same order. Taken into slavery and trained as a gladiator by Proximo (Oliver Reed), Maximus lives only that he might someday take his revenge and fulfil the dying wish of his emperor. The time soon comes when Proximo’s troupe is called to Rome to participate in a marathon of gladiator games held at the behest of the new emperor, Commodus. Once in Rome, Maximus wastes no time in making his presence known, and is soon involved in a plot to overthrow the emperor with his former-love Lucilla (Connie Nielsen), Commodus’ sister, after whom he lusts, and also the widowed mother of Lucius (Spencer Treat Clark), heir to the empire after his uncle, and democratic-minded senator, Gracchus (Derek Jacobi).
Great Story! Great Writing! Great Acting! Great Directing! Great Score! This movie has it all. I especially enjoyed the mood of the film. Even though it has a lot of action, there is a subtle elegance throughout the picture that gives it great style. The movie flows effortlessly from scene to scene, while at the same time creating wonderful intensity and nail-biting excitement.The acting in the movie more than lives up to expectations. Russell Crowe is brilliant in his role as Maximus, the “general who became a slave, who became a gladiator, who defied an emperor.” Crowe’s intense style is perfect for the relentless determination and confidence of Maximus. Joaquin Phoenix is equally wonderful in his role as Commodus, the corrupt emperor. He plays a great villain because he is able to give Commodus depth by showing certain vulnerable or fragile sides, while at the same time instantly transforming to let the ruthless nature of his volatile character shine. It also helps that Joaquin has the classic Caesar look that works perfectly with his role.Connie Nielsen is also very good as Lucilla. However, perhaps the two finest performances in the movie were given by a couple of acting veterans in supporting roles.
Richard Harris and Oliver Reed were exceptional in what will be remembered as crowning achievements at the end of their careers. Harris was perfect as Marcus Aurelius, the ageing Caesar who reflects upon his life and contemplates how the world will remember him. And Reed, especially, gave my personal favourite performance in the movie as Proximo, the trainer for the gladiators. The way he spoke about the life of a gladiator, the splendour of Rome, and the “thrill of the Coliseum” really added excitement and anticipation during the viewing of the movie.Gladiator is filled with many memorable moments that one would need to see more than once to fully appreciate. The excitement felt for me when Rome is first shown in all its wonder and marvel is my favourite scene. But the whole movie is a rush! Hans Zimmer provides the absolute perfect score to capture the different moods in the movie. Ridley Scott sets a fantastic tone with his artistic and creative directing. I would recommend it to anyone who can stomach intensity and enjoy an epic story for the ages.