25 Gladiator Movie Facts: Learn All About This Iconic Movie | Kidadl


25 Gladiator Movie Facts: Learn All About This Iconic Movie

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If you are a serious history buff and want to be entertained, watch the film 'Gladiator' without a second thought.

'Gladiator' is one of the finest historical epic movies ever to be made. This film, a collaboration between director Ridley Scott and lead actor Russell Crowe, contains some of cinematic history's best scenes and dialogues.

Screenplay writer, David Franzoni, had to convince Dreamworks SKG executive, Steven Spielberg, that his story was good enough to be adapted into a movie. The film revolves around the central theme of vengeance. It shows us how treachery and politics can destroy the lives of the best among men. The plot is based in ancient Rome when the Roman Empire was at the height of its might and prosperity. 

In the film, we are introduced to the righteous Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius, at the very beginning, when he is seen fighting to quell a German rebellion at the northern frontier of the Roman Empire. After General Maximus leads his men to victory against the barbarian hordes, a visibly happy Marcus Aurelius, emperor of the Roman Empire, hails Maximus as the 'Hero of Rome.'

From this point, the plot of the movie starts to show the complexities in the characters of the film. While Emperor Marcus Aurelius is clearly fond of his principal army commander Maximus, the emperor's son and natural heir, the incompetent Commodus, is shown to be jealous of the celebrated Roman general.

'Gladiator' is much more than Roman gladiators fighting and killing each other inside gigantic amphitheaters. It also has a beautifully crafted plot and a hauntingly brilliant soundtrack. 

Let's find out what makes this movie one of the best to have been made in the modern era of cinema.

Characters In 'Gladiator'

The protagonist of 'Gladiator' is General Maximus, played masterfully by acclaimed actor Russell Crowe. While talking about the Maximus character, director Ridley Scott said that he wanted someone who had a fresh face in the industry. Even though when we watch the film and see how wonderfully the role had been cast, it should be noted here that Russell Crowe was not the first name that came into the minds of the producers.

In fact, several actors were either directly or partially involved in the preliminary stages of the film. Apart from Mel Gibson, who gave up the role, thinking himself to be too old to play the part, actors such as Antonio Banderas and Hugh Jackman were also considered for the leading role in 'Gladiator'.

Once they turned down the part, the producers approached Russell Crowe, who reportedly signed on to the film reluctantly. 

In a later interview, Russell Crowe told media representatives that the film's script had turned his mood sour after the first reading.

The role of Commodus, who is known as the Gladiator Emperor in Roman records, was another tricky part to fill in. The producers first tried to convince Jude Law to fulfill the role but he declined, so Joaquin Phoenix was approached and took on the role.

In what would actually go on to be one of his most iconic movie roles, Phoenix silenced his critics by delivering a brilliant performance of the hated megalomaniac emperor.

The film producers did not have second thoughts about both senior actors Richard Harris and Oliver Reed while casting them in the roles of Marcus Aurelius and Proximo, respectively.

However, when it came to Oliver Reed, his untimely death during the film's shooting produced significant roadblocks for completing the project.

The film production unit had to face the monumental task of finishing the scenes in which Oliver Reed featured extensively. So, the filmmakers took the help of Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) and a body double to complete the scenes featuring Reed.

Connie Nielsen's part in the film, that of the emperor's daughter Lucilla, did not take much time to finalize. Connie Nielsen was one of the primary targets of the producers, along with Jennifer Lopez.

In 'Gladiator', there is a famous sequence where Maximus fights the undefeated gladiator Tigris of Gaul inside the ancient Colosseum. Legendary bodybuilder and actor Lou Ferrigno, who played the part of Hulk in a television series back in the late '70s and early '80s, was scheduled to play the role of Tigris.

However, the deal actually did not work out, and the role went to Danish actor and bodybuilder Sven-Ole Thorsen.

'Gladiator' Movie Adaptations

After the terrific success of 'Gladiator' in cinema halls across the United States and abroad, the producers of the movie and the studio house Dreamworks SKG had come up with the idea that they would go for a sequel of 'Gladiator'.

Along with Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, the producers even contacted several screenwriters to develop a script for the sequel.

One of the writers who had submitted a script for the 'Gladiator' sequel was Australian singer, songwriter, actor, and screenwriter Nick Cave. Nick Cave had developed a script that had Maximus as a time traveler.

In Cave's script, Maximus would be reincarnated by Roman Gods and magically transported to the 20th century's biggest war, World War II.

This was not all. Maximus would then battle enemy forces in Vietnam during the US-Vietnam War and finally get promoted to the rank of a general in the US Army.

This script had scenes with an old Maximus overlooking US military interests seated inside The Pentagon!

This outlandish script and the writer were both rejected by the production house, and the idea of making a sequel to 'Gladiator' has never regained steam.

During a much later television interview, Ridley Scott was asked whether fans would ever get to see a 'Gladiator' sequel. Scott answered that bringing Maximus back to life in a sequel would not do justice to the original film since Maximus's sole objective in the movie was to avenge the murder of his family and, as we all know, he achieved that at the end of the movie.

Much of the colosseum crowd seen in the film was generated by CGI.

Audience Reception

'Gladiator' mainly garnered positive reviews when it hit theaters all over the US and abroad on September 1, 2000.

'Gladiator' has been voted one of the best movies of all time by several polling stations.

It emerged as the top contender in the award season of 2000-2001. Both Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix were nominated in the Best Actor and Best Actor in Supporting Role categories in the Academy Awards edition of 2001. 

Russell Crowe went on to win his first Academy Award in his second Oscar nomination for 'Gladiator'. Earlier, he was nominated in the same category for the film 'LA Confidential' at the 1998 Oscars.

The performance given by Joaquin Phoenix was also applauded in many other award shows. This was hailed as his breakthrough role, given the fact that Phoenix did not have any memorable screen roles before 'Gladiator'. 

Joaquin Phoenix's portrayal is notable because he made Commodus loathed and believable. This character has subsequently become one of the most hated film roles of all time.

'Gladiator' won five awards at the 2001 Oscars, including the grand prize of Best Picture at the premiere event.


How factually accurate is 'Gladiator'?

'Gladiator' is partially accurate. While Maximus is a fictional character, most of the other significant characters in the movie are real.

Was Maximus Decimus Meridius a real person?

No, Maximus was not a real person. But screenwriter David Franzoni was inspired by actual historical personas such as Roman General, Marcus Nonius Macrinus, and Roman Statesman, Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, before coming up with the character of Maximus.

Was 'Gladiator' actually filmed in the Colosseum?

No, 'Gladiator' was not filmed inside the Colosseum in Rome. It was filmed inside a reconstructed version of the Colosseum in Malta.

Is the movie 'Gladiator' based on a true story?

No, the movie 'Gladiator' is not based on a true story. It is a fictional account of the life of a celebrated Roman general who becomes embroiled in a bitter rivalry with the emperor. But most of the characters and some of the events shown in the film have historical backing.

In which city was the movie 'Gladiator' filmed?

Major scenes of the movie 'Gladiator' were filmed in locations scattered around three countries- Malta, Morocco, and the United Kingdom. For example, the opening battle scene was shot entirely in Bourne Woods, Surrey (UK).

Where is Germania in 'Gladiator'?

The film 'Gladiator', the movie opens with a battle scene between the Roman legions under the command of Maximus and forces of German tribes. The battle takes place at Vindobona, somewhere near present-day Vienna, in Austria.

What is the story behind 'Gladiator'?

The main story behind the film 'Gladiator' revolves around the events that happen after the new Roman Emperor Commodus outlaws General Maximus and orders his personal guards to kill Maximus and his family.

Who was the greatest gladiator?

The historical Spartacus is arguably the greatest gladiator in Roman history. He led a great slave revolt against the Roman Republic in the first century BC.

Is Lucius Maximus's son?

Even though the film 'Gladiator' hints that Lucilla's son Lucius could be Maximus's son, it is not clarified.

What happened between Maximus and Lucilla?

In the early part of the film 'Gladiator', we get to see an exchange between Maximus and Lucilla outside the tent of Marcus Aurelius. During the conversation, we get to know that the two of them were in some sort of a romantic relationship in the past.

Who is Lucius's dad in 'Gladiator'?

The young Lucius's father in the movie 'Gladiator' is referred to as Lucius Verus. Lucius Verus was co-emperor alongside Marcus Aurelius and wed the Aurelius' daughter Lucilla.

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