I am an Antiquity freak….
… so how could I not like The Gladiator from 2000. It’s not quite historically correct. Marcus Aurelius died of plague; he was not murdered by his son, Commodus. Maximus Decimus Meridius didn’t exist at all. He is a totally fictional person. But who cares? It’s a good story and a good film. It was rewarded with an Oscar for best film, and Russel Crowe got an Oscar for best actor.
It’s quite entertaining to read about the filming. The actors complained about problems with the script. New writers were brought in, but the screenplay was to face many rewrites and revisions. Russel Crowe described the situation: “I read the script and it was substantially underdone. Even the character didn’t exist on the pages. And that set about a long process, that’s probably the first time that I’ve been in a situation where the script wasn’t a complete deal. We actually started shooting with about 32 pages and went through them in the first couple of weeks.”
He continued: “Here was a situation where we got to Morocco with a crew of 200 and a cast of 100 or whatever, and I didn’t have anything to learn. We had, I think, one American writer working on it, one English writer working on it, and of course a group of producers who were also adding their ideas, and then Ridley himself, and then on the occasion where Ridley would say, ‘Look this is the structure for it – what are you gonna say in that?’ So then I’d be doing my own stuff, as well. And this is how things like ‘Strength and honour’ came up. This is how things like ‘At my signal, unleash hell’ came up.”
The movie was directed by Ridley Scott. Russel Crowe played Maximus and Joaquin Phoenix played Commodus.