When and how did I watch this?
February 21st, 2017, on DVD.
Had I seen this film already?
Yep. This is one of my favorites.
What did I know about the movie before watching it?
This is a dude movie. It’s not super macho, doesn’t feature guns and body counts (not on a personal level) and high fives and profanity. It runs along the same vein as Braveheart and Ben-Hur, a quasi-historical film that captures the beautiful and gritty attributes of the time while featuring a larger-than-life protagonist that just can’t die. The film is captivating and beautiful, featuring unique hues and stylized violence.
What do I know about it now?
My overall opinion of the film remains the same, but I did notice that many of the characters aren’t actually having conversations, but delivering a series of big one-liners, phrases that you’re supposed to replay during the Oscars during the film’s nominations. It doesn’t mean they’re not saying anything at all, but the natural flow of dialogue hardly exists in Gladiator, especially in Crowe’s Maximus. I also felt more could’ve been done with Proximo, the former gladiator who now heads up the slaves. He desires his slaves’ freedom, but does very little about it until it’s too late. This is underexplained, and his character remains underdeveloped, leaving us not caring about his death. One particular exchange between him and Maximus came across as wholly forced and cringeworthy:
I see the context, and it’s an interesting contrast to how Maximus believed people’s actions “echoed into eternity”, but to me the delivery was false.
Phoenix’s Commodus really stands out to me. He’s slimy, weak, yet intelligent enough to be believable. He has great power because that’s his job, not because he’s actually influential — something that reverberates off the ruling Senate as well. The murder of Marcus Aurelius is one of the more disturbing death scenes in film, in my opinion. While I’m already familiar with the action and violence, I noticed that Ridley Scott enjoys using slow motion in just about all of the violent sequences. We’re forced to stare at the bloody contrast longer than “necessary”, creating an interesting effect in the scene. The film’s score is fantastic.
What are some themes in the film?
The Roman empire, pride, family, death, friendship/loyalty
Did this affect me personally?
Yes. There are numerous moments in the film that are etched in my memory — admittedly, most of them are violent: the opening battle scene, the whole chariot sequence, the battle against the former champion, and, of course, the final battle.
Why is this ranked #46?
The film is a masterpiece of cinematography. It is Russell Crowe’s defining work — many roles hereafter have been rather similar — and Joaquin Phoenix is one creepy baddie. It also kicked butt at the Oscars.
Did my wife watch/like it?
Despite vowing not to watch it, she sat for almost half of the film before going to bed.
Would I watch it again?
It’s a film I could watch over and over again.
Would I recommend it to a friend?
I promise you’ll be entertained.
Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?
Gladiator is not without its flaws, but remains a stunning piece of work, a visual and audio masterpiece. Great care was taken to make the colors and action work together. It doesn’t take long to get immersed in the provided environment; we’re quickly convinced this is Rome, and then this ideal is shattered, only to rise again, personified through the noble and powerful Maximus. It’s still a favorite, and worthy of a high ranking on any movie list.