Gladiator (2000 film)

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Directed by Ridley Scott
Produced by David Franzoni
Branko Lustig
Laurie MacDonald
Walter F. Parkes
Douglas Wick
Ridley Scott (uncredited)
Written by David Franzoni (creator)
John Logan
William Nicholson
Starring Russell Crowe
Joaquin Phoenix
Connie Nielsen
Music by Lisa Gerrard
Hans Zimmer
Cinematography John Mathieson
Editing by Pietro Scalia
Distributed by DreamWorks SKG
Release date(s) May 5, 2000
Running time 155 min.
Country UK
Language English
Budget $103,000,000
Gross revenue $457,640,427
IMDb profile

Gladiator is a 2000 film about a Roman general named Maximus, played by Russell Crowe. After a war with Germanic tribes, the Emperor Marcus Aurelius adopts Maximus as his heir. Aurelius's son, Commodus, grows jealous, assassinates Aurelius, and hangs Maximus's wife and son. Maximus is sold into slavery, but exploits the gladiatorial system and Commodus’s decadence to exact vengeance.

This film is not historical, but uses the names of existing Romans (such as Aurelius, Commodus, and Lucius). It portrays the pagan concept of Elysium as being real. Scriptwriter John Franzoni said, "The film is about a hero who has morality, but that morality is a secular morality." [1] The film was rated "R" for intense graphic combat. The film won 5 Oscars for Best Actor in Leading Role, Best Costume Design, Best Visual Effects, Best Picture and Best Sound and was nominated for another 7 Oscars.[2]


The film begins with a with the Roman legions, led by General Maximus, conquering the last remnants of rebellion in Germania against Emperor Marcus Aurelius. After the battle, the Emperor is met by his children, Commodus and Lucilla. The aged Emperor is on the verge of naming an heir for the throne. Against lineage, Aurelius asks Maximus to consider becoming Emperor in order to give Rome back to the people, returning it to democracy. Maximus is reluctant, because he wants to be with his wife and son on his farm again, but prepares to accept. However, Commodus learns his father's plans and bitterly suffocates his father, becoming Emperor.

When Maximus rejects Commodus, knowing him to be a murderer, Commodus orders him and his family to be executed. While Maximus escapes, his family is brutally slaughtered. Maximus is found by a group of traders who sell him to a man named Proximo, who trains gladiators. Maximus does well in the games, but is reluctant to please the crowd with his bloody endeavors. Proximo, a former gladiator who was freed by Aurelius, advises him to change his attitude.

Meanwhile, Commodus returns to Rome as Emperor. To win the peoples love, against good policy, Commodus throws hundreds of fights in Rome for the people. Proximo and his Gladiators arrive in Rome and Maximus allies with several gladiators to defeat their opponents. Impressed by Maximus, Commodus enters the arena and meets Maximus face to face. Although he wants to kill him, the spectators are enamored with his performance and Commodus needs to spare his life.

Even after pitting Maximus against several challenging fighters, Commodus cannot kill Maximus. Maximus plots with Senator Gracchus and Lucilla to overthrow Commodus by reuniting him with his army. However, their plans fail and Commodus captures Maximus, imprisons Gracchus and threatens Lucilla's son.

Spoiler warning
This article contains important plot information

Commodus then challenges Maximus in a duel in the Colliseum, but not before seriously wounding him. Commodus desperately tries to kill Maximus, but none of his guards aid him and Maximus is victorious. Maximus then gives the message of Marcus Aurelius, desiring that Rome return to democracy. Maximus falls to the ground dying, but seeing his family again after death. He is honored by Rome as a hero.


Russell Crowe - Maximus

Joaquin Phoenix - Commodus

Connie Nielsen - Lucilla

Oliver Reed - Proximo

Richard Harris - Marcus Aurelius

Derek Jacobi - Gracchus

Djimon Hounsou - Juba

Spencer Treat Clark - Lucius

  1. Quoted in "Hollywood Worldviews" Watching films with wisdom and discernment, Brian Godawa, InterVarsity Press, p. 141