After serving in against the Germanic rebels, Maximus (Russell Crowe) is told by the dying Emperor (Richard Harris) that he is to succeed him. The Emperor's son, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) has other ideas and kills his father and claims his right to be Caesar.
Commodus ousts Maximus and orders him to be killed along with his wife and child. Maximus escapes but arrives too late to save his family. Exhausted, he is taken by slave traders where he bought by Proximo (Oliver Reed) who tells him he must fight in order to gain his freedom to exact his revenge.
Having watched Ben-Hur recently, much of what I loved about Gladiator appears to have been already been done 40 years before. Despite this, Gladiator is still an excellent film.
Despite having the critically acclaimed Blade Runner under his belt, Ridley Scott arguably kickstarted his fantastic decade of filmwriting - which included Kingdom of Heaven and Robin Hood - with Gladiator at the turn of the century.
They story is full of emotion from start to finish. Maximus, who justs wants to go home having served the army for a countless number of years, finds himself back at the bottom of the pile. With Commodus having taken away everything that he lives for, Maximus is still cast a man who is full of emotion, while having a lack of it shown on the outside. Russell Crowe is fully able to keep this difficult part within his grasp.
Perhaps the most iconic part of Gladiator is the soundtrack. Hans Zimmer's composition with Lisa Gerrard's vocals were Oscar-nominated, and later Zimmer would recycle much of his successful scores from this film in Pirates of the Carribbean. Strangely though, the same music works in both films despite having a very different emotional feel.
A thoroughly enjoyable film with an emotionally genius finish.