Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Gladiator (2000)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Gladiator (2000)

In director Ridley Scott's spectacular historical adventure epic - a popular Best Picture winner and big-budget blockbuster (over $200 million) that revived the subgenre of 'sword and sandal' films of the Roman Empire. (Although greatly enhanced with CGI-digital effects, it revived the memory of dramatic historic-epic films and 'sword-and-sandal' spectaculars of the 50s, such as Quo Vadis? (1951), Ben-Hur (1959) and Spartacus (1960).)

It told a basic tale of good vs. evil, betrayal, and revenge in 180 A.D., in its story of the life of an outcast Roman general (and single-minded rebel-hero) Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe) seeking vengeance for betrayal and his family's death.

  • in the film's opening, heroic, capable and trusted Roman army General Maximus Decimus Meridius delivered an address to his troops before battling Germanic barbarians, under the command of kindly Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris): "Fratres! Three weeks from now, I will be harvesting my crops. Imagine where you will be, and it will be so. Hold the line! Stay with me! If you find yourself alone, riding in green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled, for you are in Elysium, and you're already dead! Brothers: What we do in life echoes in Eternity"
  • after the Romans were victorious in battle due to Maximus' leadership, Marcus Aurelius was betrayed by power-hungry Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), his treacherous and devious son, who was astounded when told he would not succeed to the Emperorship: "You will not be emperor....My powers will pass to Maximus, to hold in trust until the Senate is ready to rule once more. Rome is to be a republic again." Commodus felt he had been rejected as a son, and listed the virtues he had that his father hadn't recognized, such as ambition, resourcefulness, courage, and devotion. He then asked: "What is it in me you hate so much? All I ever wanted was to live up to you, Caesar. Father." After Commodus' father admitted, as he sank to his knees: "Your faults as a son is my failure as a father," Commodus committed patricide in order to take the throne away from his father, by asphyxiating and smothering his father as he hugged him tightly: "Father. I would butcher the whole world if you would only love me!"
  • Maximus narrowly escaped execution during the change of power when he was able to overpower the guards in the forest ordered to kill him by Commodus; however, his own wife (Giannina Facio) and young son (Giorgio Cantarini) were both murdered in their home in Spain; Maximus arrived too late to save them - he discovered the charred and crucified bodies of both his son and wife in the smoldering home of their villa
  • the spectacle of the Roman Colosseum's gladiatorial battles and contests was balanced with royal intrigue involving the resentful heir to the Roman throne
  • the condemned, enslaved former loyal General Maximus, turned Colosseum-gladiator named "The Spaniard" (Russell Crowe), was trained by slave owner Antonius Proximo (Oliver Reed) in Zucchabar in North Africa to fight in the Roman Colosseum; Proximo wisely advised "The Spaniard": "Learn from me. I was not the best because I killed quickly. I was the best because the crowd loved me. Win the crowd and you will win your freedom"
  • "The Spaniard" decisively and bloodily butchered a number of hefty, armored gladiators and then mocked and questioned the chanting crowds to gain their popular support: "Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?"
  • during a mock recreation of the Battle of Carthage (Zama) that pitted Carthaginian Barbarians (the original losing side) against Roman competitors (the original winners), the "Spaniard" urged Proximo's gladiators to work together as a team: "Whatever comes out of these gates, we've got a better chance of survival if we work together"; he led them to a decisive victory against the more powerful forces.
  • in a dramatic scene after the spectacular victory, treacherous Roman Emperor Caesar Commodus descended into the arena to congratulate the winners - and Commodus ordered the lead gladiator ("The Spaniard") to identify himself. The heroic "Spaniard" introduced himself: "My name is Gladiator," but then when he was confronted and ordered to remove his face-hiding helmet and reveal his true identity and name - he slowly turned, removed his disguising helmet, and defiantly declared vengeance for the assassination of the elderly Emperor Marcus Aurelius and the brutal murder of his own family "My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North. General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the TRUE emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next"; the crowd chanted: "Live, live, live!" - refusing to allow the Emperor to slay his opponent - and he gave a thumbs up signal ("Guards, at rest!")
  • meanwhile, the Emperor had a twisted and incestuous relationship with his sister Lucilla (Connie Nielsen), a widowed single mother, while she romanced Maximus
  • further hellish action sequences of battle occurred in the Colosseum (with chained tigers - often digitized) when Commodus exclaimed: "At my signal, unleash hell" - "The Spaniard" fought without his mask single-handedly in an intense battle in the Colosseum against Rome's only undefeated gladiator - the legendary Tigris of Gaul (Sven-Ole Thorsen) in which Maximus defied the Emperor's thumbs-down decision to kill his wounded opponent Tigris
  • in the meantime, the increasingly-unstable Commodus learned of a growing conspiracy against him, led by Maximus who was planning to assemble his loyal legions, overthrow the illegitimate Emperor, and give back power to the Senate; he described the plotting against him with a comparison to past Roman history: ("The emperor Claudius knew that they were up to something. He knew they were busy little bees"); Maximus was able to briefly escape but was captured, while Proximo and other gladiators were killed
  • to gain public favor, Commodus personally challenged Maximus to engage in a final confrontational one-on-one battle to-the-death with him in the "great arena": "The general who became a slave. The slave who became a gladiator. The gladiator who defied an emperor. Striking story! But now, the people want to know how the story ends. Only a famous death will do. And what could be more glorious than to challenge the Emperor himself in the great arena?"
  • Commodus first stabbed Maximus in the chest (puncturing his lung) with a stiletto while he was bound, to gain an advantage and win approval from the crowd; during the contest in his last moving moments of life, the mortally-wounded, slowly dying Maximus vengefully stabbed the Emperor in the throat with his own hidden stiletto and killed him, after Commodus had dropped his sword and no one would provide him with another (Quintus (Tomas Arana) had shouted: "Sheathe your swords!")
Commodus Stabbed to Death
  • weary and dying from his own wounds, Maximus saw himself entering into his home's wooden gates in the afterlife, before dying, he ordered Quintus: "Free my men, Senator Gracchus is to be reinstated. There was a dream that was Rome. It shall be realized. These are the wishes of Marcus Aurelius"
  • as he succumbed in the arms of Commodus' sister Lucilla, his own ex-lover, he told her (his final words) that her own son Lucius (Spencer Treat Clark) was safe: "Lucius is safe"; she urged him to go to his own murdered family: "Go to them"; as he perished, his body floated upwards and he experienced visions of his family in the afterlife as they greeted him on a dusty road and he was wading through waving yellow reeds; she reassured that he had greeted them: "You're home"
Death of Maximus
  • Lucilla stood up and addressed everyone: "Is Rome worth one good man's life? We believed it once. Make us believe it again. He was a soldier of Rome. Honor him." Fellow gladiators surrounded Maximus and carried his body out of the arena
  • the film's conclusion: newly-freed gladiator Juba (Djimon Hounsou) buried Maximus' two small statues of his wife and son in the dirt of the Colosseum where Maximus died ("Now we are free. I will see you again, but not yet. Not yet")

During Battle, Maximus: "Hold the line! Stay with me!"

Maximus' Discovery of the Murder of His Family Members

Murderous Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) Upset at Being Passed Over as the New Emperor by His Father Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris)

Maximus Fighting Off His Would-Be Executioners In the Forest

The Entrance of "The Spaniard" Into the Arena

"The Spaniard" in the Arena: "Are you not entertained?

In the Colosseum: "My name is Gladiator"

"My name is Maximum Decimus Meridius..."

"The Spaniard's" Fight Against the Legendary Tigris

"Thumbs Down" Order Defied by The "Spaniard"

Lucilla's Address After Maximus' Death

Burial of Two Statues


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