Ridley Scott (BLADE RUNNER, ALIEN) transports Hollywood to second-century Rome in this rousing historical epic that proudly harkens back to such films as BEN-HUR and SPARTACUS. Russell Crowe plays Maximus, a Roman general who leads the troops in conquering Germania for the empire. When an aging Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) tells Maximus that he'd like him to rule Rome once he's gone, a classic confrontation ensues between the brave and charming soldier--who wants to return home to his wife, son, and farm--and the jealous and conniving Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), the emperor's only son, who is thirsty for power. Bought as a slave by the profiteering Proximo (Oliver Reed, in his last role), Maximus must kill or be killed in the ring, battling to save not only himself but the future of the very empire that he loves and honors. The film features a terrific battle sequence (that recalls the beginning of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN), huge crowd scenes of thousands of people, and even a little romance, albeit mostly taboo. The impeccably choreographed gladiator scenes are violent yet thrilling, flashing by like lightning. GLADIATOR is a glorious spectacle filled with heart and soul.
2000 - Academy Awards - Best Picture Winner
2000 - Academy Awards - Best Actor Winner
Main Cast & Crew
Ridley Scott - Director
An epic adventure that calls to mind the big-budget Hollywood films of the past, Ridley Scott's thrilling film is a raucous, engaging, and highly impressive spectacle. Maximus, a well-respected general, is stripped of his rank when the scheming Commodus takes over the Roman Empire in 180 AD. Maximus finds himself fighting for his life in the vicious gladiator arenas, where he uses his fame to spark unrest among the oppressed Roman citizens, firing up Commodus's anger and setting the stage for the ultimate battle.
Theatrical release: May 5, 2000 (National). Richard Harris accepted the part of Marcus Aurelius after Ridley Scott agreed to shoot his scenes on seven consecutive days. Russell Crowe had a hand in fixing the original script. Although the script is fiction, some of the characters are based on historical fact. Commodus was indeed the son of Marcus Aurelius; he took over after his father's death and fought many times in the Colosseum, although the battles were usually setups. Oliver Reed died shortly before the end of filming; his final scene had to be shot with a body double, with the help of some FORREST GUMP-style computer animation. Derek Jacobi played the emperor Claudius in the 1976 miniseries I, Claudius, which ends approximately 130 years prior to the beginning of GLADIATOR. The majority of the crowd in the Colosseum was computer-generated. The look of the film was based on Jean-Leon Gerome's painting "Thumbs Down," featuring a gladiator scanning the crowd to see if he should kill his fallen opponent. Paul Clinton of cnn.com, Philip French of the Guardian Unlimited (UK), Jami Bernard of the New York Daily News, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly, and the National Board of Review named GLADIATOR one of the 10 best films of 2000. GLADIATOR won the 2001 Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture--Drama. Russell Crowe was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture--Drama. Joaquin Phoenix was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture--Drama. Ridley Scott was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director--Motion Picture. Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard won the Golden Globe for Best Original Score--Motion Picture. Russell Crowe was named Best Actor by the San Diego Film Critics Society and the Broadcast Film Critics Association. The San Diego Film Critics Society's Best Body of Work award for 2000 went to Joaquin Phoenix (GLADIATOR, QUILLS, THE YARDS), and the award for Best Cinematography went to John Matheison. Joaquin Phoenix was named Best Supporting Actor by the Broadcast Film Critics Association for his work in GLADIATOR, QUILLS, and THE YARDS. Pietro Scalia won Best Film Editing, Janty Yates won Best Costume Design, and Hans Zimmer won Best Score from the Las Vegas Film Critics Society, which also awarded GLADIATOR Best DVD and Best Visual Effects. The Broadcast Film Critics Association awarded GLADIATOR Best Cinematography (John Matheison), Best Production Design (Arthur Marx). It also named Hans Zimmer Best Composer for his work in GLADIATOR, M:I-2, and THE ROAD TO EL DORADO. The National Board of Review awarded GLADIATOR Best Production Design and Art Direction.
"...Mr. Crowe gives a performance with ball-of-fire intensity..." - 05/26/2000 New York Times, p.E18
"...[The film's] best moments achieve a real grandeur....[Crowe] supplies all the conviction GLADIATOR needs." - 06/01/2000 Premiere, pp.21-2
"...A classically designed pop spectacle....Triumphantly combined visual dazzle and old-fashioned storytelling..." - 06/08/2000 Rolling Stone, p.132
"...A gloriously entertaining thrill-packer of truly epic proportions..." -- 5 out of 5 stars - 06/01/2000 Total Film, pp.80-1
"...Grand and rousing....One's expectations are met by doozies..." -- Rating: A- - 06/16/2000 Entertainment Weekly, p.64
Ranked #5 in Entertainment Weekly's "Lisa Schwarzbaum's BEST MOVIES OF 2000" - 12/22/2000 Entertainment Weekly, pp.106-17
"...Literate writing, commanding direction, awe-inspiring production design, eye-popping photography, breathtaking music and superlative acting all contribute to the staggeringly convincing recreation of the era..." -- 4 out of 5 stars - 05/01/2000 Box Office, p.62
"...Crowe has a patent on heroic plausibility....GLADIATOR is supremely atmospheric..." - 05/05/2000 Los Angeles Times, p.C1
Ranked #24 in Rolling Stone's "Top 25 DVDs Of 2005' -- "It works, and Russell Crowe in the title role has never been better." - 12/01/2005 Rolling Stone, p.98