Gladiator (2000)

R | 150 or 154 mins | Epic | 5 May 2000

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
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Director:

Ridley Scott

Cinematographer:

John Mathieson

Editor:

Pietro Scalia

Production Designer:

Arthur Max

Production Company:

Scott Free Productions
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HISTORY

With the exception of the production company names, the film opens with only the title and the following prologue: “At the height of its power the Roman empire was vast, stretching from the deserts of Africa to the borders of Northern England. Over one quarter of the world’s population lived and died under the rule of the caesars. In the winter of 180 A.D., Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ twelve-year campaign against the barbarian tribes in Germania was drawing to an end. Just one final stronghold stands in the way of Roman victory and the promise of peace throughout the empire.” All other credits appear at the end of the film. Russell Crowe's character is named Maximus in the film's end credits, however the full name is spoken as "Maximus Decimus Meridias" within the film. The correct spelling of this full name is unconfirmed as the Final Shooting Script dated 5 May 1999 lists the name as "Caius Fabius Maximus" (p. 74).
       The character of Maximus is fictional, however, the characters of Marcus Aurelius, Commodus and Lucilla are based on actual persons. Marcus Aurelius (121--180 A.D.) was adopted by the emperor Antoninus Pius and succeeded him. He initially shared power with his adoptive brother, Lucius Verus, but was the sole emperor after 169 A.D. Although he was also known as a philosopher and humanitarian, there is no historical evidence that he enjoined his successor to return ruling power to the Senate. His death is documented as having been caused by illness. In 164 A.D., then seventeen-year-old Lucilla, the daughter of Marcus Aurelius, was married to Lucius Verus. After ... More Less

With the exception of the production company names, the film opens with only the title and the following prologue: “At the height of its power the Roman empire was vast, stretching from the deserts of Africa to the borders of Northern England. Over one quarter of the world’s population lived and died under the rule of the caesars. In the winter of 180 A.D., Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ twelve-year campaign against the barbarian tribes in Germania was drawing to an end. Just one final stronghold stands in the way of Roman victory and the promise of peace throughout the empire.” All other credits appear at the end of the film. Russell Crowe's character is named Maximus in the film's end credits, however the full name is spoken as "Maximus Decimus Meridias" within the film. The correct spelling of this full name is unconfirmed as the Final Shooting Script dated 5 May 1999 lists the name as "Caius Fabius Maximus" (p. 74).
       The character of Maximus is fictional, however, the characters of Marcus Aurelius, Commodus and Lucilla are based on actual persons. Marcus Aurelius (121--180 A.D.) was adopted by the emperor Antoninus Pius and succeeded him. He initially shared power with his adoptive brother, Lucius Verus, but was the sole emperor after 169 A.D. Although he was also known as a philosopher and humanitarian, there is no historical evidence that he enjoined his successor to return ruling power to the Senate. His death is documented as having been caused by illness. In 164 A.D., then seventeen-year-old Lucilla, the daughter of Marcus Aurelius, was married to Lucius Verus. After his death, she became the wife of Claudius Pompeianus Quintianus of Antioch. Historical sources note that Commodus (161--192 A.D.) served as joint emperor with his father for three years before the death of Marcus Aurelius. After Commodus’ succession, he founded peace with Germania and returned to Rome. History records that Commodus was indeed out of favor with the Senate but popular with the people. He fought in gladiatorial games, always the victor, and his reign was marked by his frequently staged tributes to himself. Commodus was eventually murdered at the order of his own advisers.
       A Time magazine article dated 8 May 2000 noted that actor Jude Law was tested for the role of “Commodus.” According to a May 2000 article in Talk , writer David Franzoni first conceived the story in May 1996, and director Ridley Scott indicated that his first choice for the role of “Maximus” was Mel Gibson. Gibson, who had just finished the film The Patriot , turned down the role. According to an article dated 25 May 2001 in LAT ’s “Calendar” section, producer Douglas Wick first offered the project to his own studio, Sony Pictures, but they passed on it.
       Numerous news items note that the nineteenth-century painting “Pollice Verso (Thumbs Down)” by Jean-Léon Gérôme inspired Ridley Scott’s vision of the film. According to a 27 Apr 2000 article in The Times (London) , Scott first considered a forest in Bratislava for the opening battle scene, however, he later arranged with the British Forestry Commission to use a British forest that was already scheduled for de-forestation. The area was known as the Bourne Woods, near Farnham, England. The film’s presskit notes the following about the production: Ouarzazate, Morocco was the location for scenes including the marketplace, “Proximo’s” school and the small arena. The Moroccan army aided the production by constructing a bridge across a river that afforded transport to another location. Malta was the site for the reconstruction of Rome and the Coliseum. The production crew built a model of one-third of the Coliseum and used special effects to complete the rest of the structure as seen in the film. Numerous news items add that additional sets were built around Fort Ricasoli, an eighteenth-century fort in Malta.
       Gladiator marked the final feature appearance of British actor Oliver Reed, who died of a heart attack while off the set on 2 May 1999. The end credits for Gladiator include the following dedication: “To our friend Oliver Reed.” According to the presskit, in the original screenplay the character “Proximo” survives the Praetorian assault. After Reed’s death, the script was revised to include “Proximo’s” release of the slaves and his death at the hands of the Praetorian guards. A body double and special effects were employed to make it appear that Reed performed the entirety of this scene.
       The production cost of the film was estimated at $105 million by various news sources. DreamWorks handled the domestic distribution, and Universal handled the foreign distribution. The 10 May 2000 issue of HR reported that the film grossed $34.8 million domestic box-office on its opening weekend. According to Var , the film grossed $415 million box-office worldwide by 27 Jul 2000. The film was re-released on 22 Nov 2000 in IMAX theatres around the U.S. as promotional support for the release of the DVD version, according to a 24 Nov 2000 article in Screen International . HR noted on 11 Aug 2000 that the film received the Gold Australian Box Office Achievement Award for “the highest grossing film in the market over the [previous] twelve months.” The award was sponsored by Hoyt Cinemas.
       In addition to being selected as one of AFI's top ten films of 2000, Gladiator was nominated for Golden Globe Awards for Actor in a Leading Role, Drama (Russell Crowe), Actor in a Supporting Role (Joaquin Phoenix) and Director (Ridley Scott), and won Golden Globe Awards for Best Picture, Drama and Original Score (Lisa Gerrard, Hans Zimmer). The film was nominated for Academy Awards in the following categories: Performance by an actor in a supporting role (Joaquin Phoenix), Achievement in art direction (Art direction Arthur Max, Set decoration Crispian Sallis), Achievement in cinematography (John Mathieson), Achievement in directing (Ridley Scott), Achievement in film editing (Pietro Scalia), Achievement in music (original score) (Hans Zimmer), Screenplay written directly for the screen (David Franzoni and John Logan and William Nicholson). The film won Academy Awards in the following categories: Performance by an actor in a leading role (Russell Crowe), Achievement in costume design (Janty Yates), Achievement in sound (Scott Millan, Bob Beemer and Ken Weston), Achievement in visual effects (John Nelson, Neil Corbould, Tim Burke and Rob Harvey) and Best Picture (A Douglas Wick in association with Scott Free Production, Douglas Wick, David Franzoni and Branko Lustig, Producers).
       On 16 May 2006, a musical version of Gladiator , with book and lyrics by Roger Hyams and music by Gavin Greenaway, based on themes from the film written by Hans Zimmer, opened in North Hollywood, CA. The Workshop presentation was produced by Brian Eastman and directed by James Robinson. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
24 Apr 2000.
---
Daily Variety
18 Jan 2001
p. A1, A8, A10.
Entertainment Design Magazine
Jul 2000
pp. 37-39.
Entertainment Weekly
12 May 2000
pp. 26-31, 47-48.
Entertainment Weekly
19 May 2000
pp. 8-9.
Esquire
Oct 2000
pp. 90-95.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Feb 1999.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jan 2000
p. 43, 46.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 2000.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 2000.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Aug 2000.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Nov 2000.
---
LA Weekly
5 May 2000
p. 43.
Los Angeles
Jun 2000
p. 46.
Los Angeles Times
23 Apr 2000
Calendar, p. 3, 89.
Los Angeles Times
5 May 2000.
---
Los Angeles Times
10 May 2000.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 May 2001
Calendar.
New Times
4--10 May 2000
p. 10.
New York Times
5 May 2000
Weekend, p. 1, E12.
New Yorker
8 May 2000
p. 125.
Newsweek
1 May 2000
pp. 66-67.
Newsweek
22 May 2000.
---
People
3 Jul 2000.
---
Rolling Stone
25 May 2000
pp. 81-82.
Screen International
28 Jul 2000.
---
Screen International
24 Nov 2000.
---
Talk
May 2000
pp. 83-88, 134-135.
The Nation
22 May 2000.
---
The Sunday Times (London)
2 Apr 2000
pp. 6-7.
The Sunday Times (London)
14 May 2000.
---
The Sunday Times (London)
28 May 2000
p. 6.
The Sunday Times (London)
25 Mar 2001.
---
The Times (London)
27 Apr 2000
Arts, p. 22.
The Times (London)
17 May 2000
Arts Cover Story, pp. 3-4.
Time
8 May 2000
pp. 83-84.
US Weekly
22 May 2000.
---
Variety
24 Apr 2000
p. 27.
Variety
31 Jul 2000.
---
Village Voice
9 May 2000
p. 129.
Wall St. Journal
5 May 2000
p. W1, W9.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Ridley Scott Film; A Douglas Wick Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d 2d asst dir
3d asst dir
2d unit, 2d asst dir
U.K. unit, 2d 2d asst dir
U.K. unit, 3d asst dir
Morocco unit, 1st asst dir
Morocco unit, 2d asst dir
Morocco unit, 2d asst dir
Morocco unit, 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit dir of photog
"A" cam op
"B" cam and Steadicam op
"A" cam focus puller
"B" cam focus puller
"A" cam clapper loader
"B" cam clapper loader
Clapper loader
Cam tech
Still photog
Video op
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Elec
Elec
Rigging elec gaffer
Rigging elec gaffer
Rigging elec best boy
Generator op
Key grip
Best boy grip
Cam grip
Crane op
2d unit, "A" cam op
2d unit, "A" cam focus puller
2d unit, "B" cam op
2d unit, "B" cam focus puller
2d unit, video op
2d unit, grip
Malta unit, D & E cam op
Malta unit, D & E cam op
Malta unit, cam focus puller
Malta unit, cam focus puller
Malta unit, elec
Malta unit, elec
Malta unit, elec
Malta unit, elec
Malta unit, elec
Malta unit, elec
Malta unit, elec
Malta unit, elec
Malta unit, generator op
Malta unit, grip
Malta unit, grip
Malta unit, grip
Malta unit, grip
Malta unit, grip
U.K. unit, cam focus puller
U.K. unit, cam clapper loader
U.K. unit, generator op
U.K. unit, elec rigger
Morocco unit, "A" cam focus puller
Morocco unit, cam asst
Morocco unit, cam asst
Morocco unit, video assist
Morocco unit, elec
Morocco unit, elec
Morocco unit, elec
Morocco unit, elec
Morocco unit, elec
Morocco unit, elec
Morocco unit, grip
Morocco unit, grip
Morocco unit, crane op
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir-vehicles
Illustrator
Malta unit, supv art dir
Malta unit, art dir
Malta unit, asst art dir
Malta unit, draughtsman
Malta unit, draughtsman
Malta unit, draughtsman
Malta unit, art dept prod asst
Malta unit, art dept prod asst
U.K. unit, supv art dir
U.K. unit, art dir
U.K. unit, art dept prod asst
U.K. unit, art dept prod asst
Morocco unit, supv art dir
Morocco unit, asst art dir
Morocco unit, asst art dir
Morocco unit, draughtsman
Morocco unit, art dept prod asst
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
Apprentice ed
Ed trainee
Negative cutter
U.K. unit, asst ed
U.K. unit, asst ed
U.K. unit, AVID asst
U.K. unit, apprentice ed
U.K. unit, ed trainee
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Morocco unit, prop master
Asst prop master
Standby props
Standby props
Standby props
Dressing props supv
Drapery master
Drapesman
Const mgr
Standby painter
Standby carpenter
Standby rigger
Standby stagehand
Malta unit, set dec
Malta unit, prop master
Malta unit, props
Malta unit, props
Malta unit, props
Malta unit, props
Malta unit, props buyer
Malta unit, H.O.D. painter
Malta unit, H.O.D. metal worker
Malta unit, H.O.D. plasterer
Malta unit, H.O.D. carpenter
Malta unit, H.O.D. rigger
Malta unit, H.O.D. stagehand
U.K. unit, set dec
U.K. unit, props
U.K. unit, props
U.K. unit, props
U.K. unit, H.O.D. props painter
U.K. unit, scenic artist
U.K. unit, scenic artist
U.K. unit, draughtsman/set dressing
U.K. unit, set dec asst
U.K. unit, set dec asst
U.K. unit, set dressing buyer
U.K. unit, greensman
Morocco unit, set dec
Morocco unit, asst set dec
Morocco unit, props
Morocco unit, props
Morocco unit, props buyer
Morocco unit, drapes
Morocco unit, drapes
COSTUMES
Cost des
Supv armourer
Armourer
Armourer
Armourer
Mr. Crowe's armourer
Cost supv
Asst cost des
Ward master
Mr. Crowe's dresser
Malta unit, cost
Malta unit, cost
Malta unit, cost
Malta unit, cost
Malta unit, cost
Malta unit, cost
Malta unit, cost
Malta unit, cost
Malta unit, cost
U.K. unit, supv armourer
U.K. unit, cost
U.K. unit, cost
U.K. unit, cost
Morocco unit, ward supv
Morocco unit, ward supv
Morocco unit, cost
Morocco unit, cost
Morocco unit, cost
Morocco unit, cost
Morocco unit, cost
Morocco unit, cost
Morocco unit, cost
Jewelry handrafted by
MUSIC
Score vocals perf by
Exec in charge of mus
Mus ed
Score co-prod and addl mus
London mus coord
London mus coord
Mus rec and mixed by
2d eng
2d eng
2d eng
2d eng
2d eng
Tech score adv
Tech score adv
Mus prod services
Orch contracted by
Copyist
Asst to Mr. Zimmer
Asst to Mr. Zimmer
Asst to Mr. Zimmer
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Cableman
1st asst sd ed
Supv ADR ed
Supv foley ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Background ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
ADR ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst ADR ed
Apprentice sd ed
Addl audio
Addl audio
Addl audio
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Foley mixer
Foley rec
Foley rec
Foley rec at
ADR mixer
ADR mixer
Addl re-rec mixer
Re-rec eng
Sd ed services provided by
Re-rec at
U.K. unit, sd cableman
U.K. unit, sd cableman
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff supv
Spec visual eff
Spec eff & prosthetic supv
Floor supv
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff asst
Title des
Animatronic supv
Animatronic des
Prosthetic floor supv
Prosthetic des
Visual eff ed
Malta unit, spec eff supv
Malta unit, spec eff
Malta unit, spec eff
Malta unit, spec eff
Malta unit, spec eff
Malta unit, spec eff
Malta unit, spec eff
Malta unit, spec eff
Malta unit, spec eff
Malta unit, spec eff buyer
U.K. unit, spec eff supv
U.K. unit, spec eff
U.K. unit, spec eff
U.K. unit, spec eff
U.K. unit, spec eff
U.K. unit, spec eff
U.K. unit, spec eff
U.K. unit, spec eff
U.K. unit, spec eff
U.K. unit, spec eff
U.K. unit, spec eff
U.K. unit, spec eff
U.K. unit, spec eff
Morocco unit, spec eff supv
Morocco unit, spec eff
Morocco unit, spec eff
Morocco unit, spec eff
Morocco unit, spec eff
Morocco unit, spec eff
Morocco unit, spec eff
Morocco unit, spec eff
Mill Film, Ltd., visual eff supv
Mill Film, Ltd., visual eff supv
Mill Film, Ltd., visual eff prod
Mill Film, Ltd., exec prod
Mill Film, Ltd., prod exec
Mill Film, Ltd., CG supv
Mill Film, Ltd., visual eff coord
Mill Film, Ltd., visual eff coord
Mill Film, Ltd., prod coord U.S.A.
Mill Film, Ltd., FX ed
Mill Film, Ltd., chief of technology
Mill Film, Ltd., compositor
Mill Film, Ltd., compositor
Mill Film, Ltd., compositor
Mill Film, Ltd., compositor
Mill Film, Ltd., compositor
Mill Film, Ltd., compositor
Mill Film, Ltd., compositor
Mill Film, Ltd., compositor
Mill Film, Ltd., compositor
Mill Film, Ltd., compositor
Mill Film, Ltd., digital matte painter
Mill Film, Ltd., digital matte painter
Mill Film, Ltd., digital matte painter
Mill Film, Ltd., digital prep
Mill Film, Ltd., digital prep
Mill Film, Ltd., lead CG artist
Mill Film, Ltd., lead CG artist
Mill Film, Ltd., lead CG artist
Mill Film, Ltd., lead CG artist
Mill Film, Ltd., lead CG artist
Mill Film, Ltd., CG artist
Mill Film, Ltd., CG artist
Mill Film, Ltd., CG artist
Mill Film, Ltd., CG artist
Mill Film, Ltd., CG artist
Mill Film, Ltd., CG artist
Mill Film, Ltd., addl CG
Mill Film, Ltd., addl CG
Mill Film, Ltd., software development lead
Mill Film, Ltd., addl software development
Mill Film, Ltd., addl software development
Mill Film, Ltd., systems support
Mill Film, Ltd., systems support
Mill Film, Ltd., systems support
Mill Film, Ltd., I/O supv
Mill Film, Ltd., TA mgr
Mill Film, Ltd., TA mgr
Mill Film, Ltd., filmout op
Mill Film, Ltd., filmout op
Mill Film, Ltd., tech asst
Mill Film, Ltd., tech asst
Mill Film, Ltd., tech asst
Mill Film, Ltd., tech asst
Mill Film, Ltd., tech asst
Mill Film, Ltd., ed asst
Mill Film, Ltd., addl VFX ed
Mill Film, Ltd., visual eff cam op
Mill Film, Ltd., visual eff cam asst
Mill Film, Ltd., grip op
Mill Film, Ltd., digital mix & overlay
Mill Film, Ltd., studio eff shoot cam
Mill Film, Ltd., studio eff shoot asst
Mill Film, Ltd., gaffer
Mill Film Ltd., rigger
Motion capture studio
Mill Film, Ltd., visual eff asst coord
Mill Film, Ltd., prod asst
Mill Film, Ltd., prod runner
MAKEUP
Key makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Key hair stylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Malta unit, makeup artist
Malta unit, makeup artist
Malta unit, makeup artist
Malta unit, hair stylist
Malta unit, hair stylist
Malta unit, hair stylist
Morocco unit, makeup asst
Morocco unit, makeup asst
Morocco unit, makeup asst
Morocco unit, hair stylist
Morocco unit, hair asst
Morocco unit, hair asst
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Post prod exec
Unit prod mgr
Prod supv
Post prod supv
Unit mgr
Scr supv
Prod coord
Post prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod controller
U.K. casting
U.S. casting assoc
Gladiator and crowd casting
Casting asst
Unit pub
Mr. Crowe's dial coach
Dial coach
Fight master
Asst fight master
Transportation coord
Chief animal trainer
Animal trainer
Horse master
Asst horse master
Asst to Mr. Scott
Asst to Mr. Scott
Asst to Mr. Scott
Scott Free exec
Consultant to Ridley Scott
Asst to Mr. Parkes
Asst to Mr. Parkes
Asst to Ms. MacDonald
Asst to Mr. Wick
Asst to Mr. Wick
Asst to Mr. Lustig
Asst to Mr. Crowe
Asst to Mr. Phoenix
Mr. Crowe's trainer
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Projectionist
Voice casting
2d unit, prod supv
2d unit, prod supv
2d unit, scr supv
Malta unit, prod mgr
Malta unit, unit mgr
Malta unit, prod coord
Malta unit, asst prod coord
Malta unit, Maltese consultant
Malta unit, Maltese coord
Malta unit, prod asst
Malta unit, prod asst
Malta unit, prod asst
Malta unit, loc mgr
Malta unit, transportation mgr
Malta unit, asst transportation mgr
Malta unit, chariots & horses provided by
Malta unit, tiger trainer
Malta unit, tiger trainer
Malta unit, animal handler
Malta unit, animal handler
Malta unit, animal handler
Malta unit, animal handler
Malta unit, prod services
Velarium shadow des eng by
Velarium shadow des eng by
U.K. unit, loc mgr
U.K. unit, asst loc mgr
U.K. unit, asst loc mgr
U.K. unit, Rome tech adv
Morocco unit, prod mgr
Morocco unit, prod mgr
Morocco unit, prod coord
Morocco unit, prod coord
Morocco unit, prod secy
Morocco unit, loc mgr
Morocco unit, loc mgr
Morocco unit, loc mgr
Morocco unit, casting
Morocco unit, transportation mgr
Morocco unit, asst transportation mgr
Morocco unit, animal trainer
Morocco unit, animal trainer
Morocco unit, animal trainer
Morocco unit, prod asst
Morocco unit, prod asst
Morocco unit, prod asst
Morocco unit, prod asst
Morocco unit, prod asst
Morocco unit, prod services
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Maximus' stunt double
Maximus' stunt double
Maximus/Tiger double
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
U.K. unit, stand-in
U.K. unit, stand-in
U.K. unit, stand-in
U.K. unit, stand-in
U.K. unit, stand-in
U.K. unit, stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Technicolor London, rushes timer
Mill Film, Ltd., colour timer
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Pavor" and "Etruria" written by Walter Maioli & Natalia Van Ravenstein, performed by Synaulia, courtesy of Amiata Media Srl.
DETAILS
Release Date:
5 May 2000
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 1 May 2000
Los Angeles and New York openings: 5 May 2000
London opening: 12 May 2000.
Production Date:
began 1 February 1999 in Farnham, Surrey, England
March 1999 in Ouarzazate, Morocco
April-May 1999 in Malta
June 1999 in Italy
re-shoots in Lone Pine, CA.
Copyright Claimant:
DreamWorks, LLC & Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
8 May 2000
Copyright Number:
PA0000986134
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Digital; DTS Sound; SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound) in selected theatres
Color
gauge
35mm
Lenses/Prints
Panavision Camera and Lenses; prints by Technicolor
Lenses/Prints
AVID; Kodak
Duration(in mins):
150 or 154
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
37084
SYNOPSIS

In a bleak winter forest in the year 180 A.D., Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridias reviews his battle-weary troops before they launch their final campaign to conquer Germania. Maximus is greatly admired by his men, alongside whom he fights during the battle and leads them to victory. Commodus and his sister Lucilla, the scions of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, travel to Maximus’ army camp, having been summoned by their father. On their arrival they learn that the soldiers have been gone for nineteen days. Commodus rides to the front to honor his father but is affronted when Marcus Aurelius pays homage to Maximus. The emperor, who loves Maximus as a son, believes that he is slowly dying and sends for Maximus that night to ask him to succeed him after his death and give the control of Rome to the Senate. Maximus, longing only to return to his native Spain and his family, rejects the idea, but Marcus Aurelius is adamant as he believes that Commodus is morally corrupt. While Maximus prays alone to devotional figures of his family for guidance, Marcus Aurelius tells Commodus his decision. Commodus feels betrayed and, sobbing, murders his father. The murder is covered up and Commodus immediately seizes power. When Maximus refuses to vow his loyalty, Commodus orders his immediate execution. In a remote forest location, Maximus overwhelms his would-be assassins and, injured, rides for home, but arrives to find that his wife and son have been hanged and burned to death by Commodus’ Praetorian guards. Maximus collapses and while unconscious is taken prisoner by a slave trader. A fellow captive named Juba ... +


In a bleak winter forest in the year 180 A.D., Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridias reviews his battle-weary troops before they launch their final campaign to conquer Germania. Maximus is greatly admired by his men, alongside whom he fights during the battle and leads them to victory. Commodus and his sister Lucilla, the scions of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, travel to Maximus’ army camp, having been summoned by their father. On their arrival they learn that the soldiers have been gone for nineteen days. Commodus rides to the front to honor his father but is affronted when Marcus Aurelius pays homage to Maximus. The emperor, who loves Maximus as a son, believes that he is slowly dying and sends for Maximus that night to ask him to succeed him after his death and give the control of Rome to the Senate. Maximus, longing only to return to his native Spain and his family, rejects the idea, but Marcus Aurelius is adamant as he believes that Commodus is morally corrupt. While Maximus prays alone to devotional figures of his family for guidance, Marcus Aurelius tells Commodus his decision. Commodus feels betrayed and, sobbing, murders his father. The murder is covered up and Commodus immediately seizes power. When Maximus refuses to vow his loyalty, Commodus orders his immediate execution. In a remote forest location, Maximus overwhelms his would-be assassins and, injured, rides for home, but arrives to find that his wife and son have been hanged and burned to death by Commodus’ Praetorian guards. Maximus collapses and while unconscious is taken prisoner by a slave trader. A fellow captive named Juba befriends Maximus and treats his wound, after which they are both sold to fight promoter Proximo to be trained as gladiators. Proximo assumes that Maximus is a deserter from the Roman army and he is dubbed “Spaniard.” While a reluctant Maximus is being trained as a gladiator, Commodus returns to Rome as emperor but is uninterested in the actual work of ruling. Lucilla acts as a mediator between Commodus and the hostile Senate, while Commodus focuses on his plans to hold 150 days of games to honor his father. In time, Maximus gains the respect of his fellow gladiators as well as the crowds who cheer him on as he repeatedly defeats his foes, but Maximus remains disgusted by the blood sport. Proximo meets privately with Maximus and admits that he was once a gladiator who was granted his freedom by Marcus Aurelius. Proximo informs him that they will be fighting in Commodus’ games at the Roman coliseum and advises him that if he wins that crowd, he, too, might win his own freedom. Meanwhile, Lucilla, a widow who was once in love with Maximus, tries to keep her brother from dissolving the Senate, resorting even to sleeping tonics to keep him at bay. Proximo and his gladiators arrive in Rome and are assigned to fight a re-creation of the Battle of Carthage. The gladiators are awed by the size of the coliseum but once inside the arena, they battle for their lives. Maximus uses his skills as a general and urges his fellow gladiators to work together, and they succeed in killing the opposition. The audience cheers them on and, when Commodus goes down to meet the gladiators, he demands that Maximus remove the helmet that hides his face. Maximus then reveals his true identity and vows vengeance, but when the frightened Commodus calls forth his Praetorian guards, the crowds boo him until he gives Maximus the thumbs-up symbol of approval. Commodus later confides to Lucilla that his guards lied to him that Maximus was dead and that this must mean he does not have their respect. Lucilla advises him to force them to respect him, but later secretly meets with Maximus to seek his help against Commodus, whom she fears. Maximus is too embittered to offer his support. In an attempt to kill Maximus, Commodus next pits him against several vicious tigers and a top gladiator; although Maximus again survives, he refuses to kill the gladiator. Maximus’ former assistant, Cicero, makes contact with him and Maximus sends him to Lucilla to tell her he has changed his mind and will help her. When Lucilla arranges for Maximus to meet with Gracchus, a Roman senator who opposes Commodus, Maximus relates to Gracchus that it was Marcus Aurelius’ final wish that power be returned to the Senate. Maximus then asks for his freedom, in return for which he will gather his troops and kill Commodus and his guards. When Gracchus is arrested soon after, Lucilla arranges with Proximo to free Maximus that night. At the palace, Commodus is stunned when Lucilla’s son Lucius innocently reveals that his mother believes that Maximus is the savior of Rome. Lucilla returns as Commodus is telling Lucius a story about ancestral betrayal, and she realizes that her disloyalty has been discovered. As a result, Commodus’ spies slip a poisonous snake into the bed of senator Gaius, who is sympathetic to Lucilla’s cause. Before Maximus can be freed, Commodus’ Praetorian guards arrive at Proximo’s encampment. After giving Maximus the keys to free all the slaves, Proximo fights the Praetorians to his death. The slaves rally to combat the guards while Maximus escapes to meet Cicero. Maximus finds Cicero at the appointed place seated on his horse, but Cicero cries out a warning and is hanged by a noose around his neck, while Maximus is captured Commodus’ forces. Commodus now demands that Lucilla live estranged from her son, and implies that he hopes that he and she will produce their own heir. He then decides to fight Maximus himself as part of the games, but to ensure his own victory, stabs the former general in the back, and then has his man, Quintus, cover the wound with armor. Commodus and Maximus face off in the arena, but when Commodus loses his sword, Quintus refuses to give him another. Commodus then pulls a knife from his sleeve and they fight hand-to-hand, but Maximus overpowers him and finally gains his revenge, killing Commodus. As Maximus slowly dies from the knife wound, he tells Quintus to free his men, reinstate Gracchus and restore the dream of Rome as Marcus Aurelius had wished. After Lucilla runs to his side and assures him that Lucius is safe, Maximus dies with visions of his family walking through fields to greet him. Lucilla weeps over his body, then demands that the people of Rome honor him. Gracchus and the slaves carry Maximus’ body from the arena, leaving Commodus in the dirt. Later, Juba buries the carved devotional figures of Maximus’ family, and having earned his own freedom, pledges to see his friend again in time. +

Legend
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AFI Life Achievement Award
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