|Ratings||UK: 15, USA: R, Denmark: 15|
|Source of story||A riff on the Marcus Aurelius and Commodus story, inspired by a 1958 book ‘Those About to Die” by Daniel P. Mannix.|
|Writers/Script||David Franzoni, John Logan, William Nicholson apparently with off the cuff contributions from the actors.|
|Starring||Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris, Derek Jacobi, David Hemmings, Omid Djalili,|
|Ratings||IMDb: 8.5 by 1.4m people. Rotten Tomatoes: 77% by 201 reviewers.|
Elevator Pitch: During fighting on the Roman northern frontier in 180 AD the emperor, Marcus Aurelius, is assassinated by his son, Commodus. Commodus also arranges for the killing of the emperor’s chosen successor General Maximus Decimus Meridius and his family back in Spain. Maximus survives, but is later captured by slavers and is sold to the patron of a gladiator school. Through a succession of gladiatorial combats Maximus rises through the ranks and is finally given the opportunity of fighting Commodus in the arena of the Coliseum. Commodus is known for his enthusiasm for gladiatorial combat, but will often win by subterfuge.
Content: There is no nudity or sex, although there are indications that the ladies of Rome are keen on getting together with gladiators, and that Commodus is keen on getting together with his sister. Just a bit of drinking. The opening set piece of the Roman legions taking on the barbarians is stunning, even though much of what is seen is historically incorrect. Maximus progresses through the gladiatorial combats with efficiency,. The high point possibly a re-enactment of the battle of Zama, with the group of gladiators playing the Carthaginians and mercenaries in chariots playing the Romans. With Maximus commanding the gladiators, they win the battle.
A View: I have watched this movie several times, and have reviewed it here once, not doing it justice. It won five Oscars and the role of Maximus is absolutely Russell Crowe’s. He won the Oscar for Best Male Actor. It is also remembered for the fact that Oliver Reed died during the production, and it is dedicated to him. It is absolutely worth putting aside the necessary two and a half hours for it. I have made it a MUST SEE.