Gladiator 2000 United International Pictures distributed it globally on behalf of Universal Pictures,
while DreamWorks Pictures distributed it in North America. In addition to Oliver Reed (in his penultimate performance), Djimon Hounsou, Derek Jacobi, John Shrapnel, Richard Harris, and Tommy Flanagan, it also stars Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Tomas Arana, Ralf Möller, and Tommy Flanagan. Maximus Decimus Meridius, portrayed by Crowe, is a Roman general who is betrayed when Commodus, the ambitious son of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, kills his father and takes the throne. After being sold into slavery, Maximus fights his way through the gladiator ranks to exact revenge on those who killed his family and his emperor.
The script, originally written by Franzoni and based on Daniel P. Mannix’s 1958 book Those About to Die (formerly known as The Way of the Gladiator), was bought by DreamWorks, and Ridley Scott agreed to helm the movie. Due to the incomplete script, principal photography, which started in January 1999 and ended in May of that same year, was known to have a number of issues. During the nineteen-week filming in Fort Ricasoli, Malta, a number of the cast members grumbled about the screenplay, which led to numerous rewrites. The film’s production issues were made worse when Reed passed away from a heart attack before it could be finished. For the remaining scenes involving Reed’s character Proximo, the British post-production outfit The Mill, who built the movie’s computer-generated imagery effects, had to produce a digital body double.
Gladiator was expected to be one of the most popular films of the year despite its problematic production. The movie debuted to nearly $503 million in worldwide revenue, coming in second place after Mission: Impossible 2 in terms of box office take. Although its gloomy and dismal tone was criticised by some, critics commended the actors, especially Crowe and Phoenix’s performances, Scott’s direction, visuals, storyline, action sequences, musical soundtrack, and the production values. Gladiator received multiple honours and took home for Crowe, at the 73rd Academy Awards. Gladiator revived or launched the careers of its cast and crew, giving Crowe the title of leading man and making Phoenix a household name.
Gladiator has received new reviews since it was first released. It is regarded as one of the top historical epic films ever filmed as well as one of the best films of the 2000s. It has been said to have revived interest in entertainment based on the cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and other historical periods after it had fallen in popularity during the 1960s. This is known as reinventing the sword-and-sandal genre. With varied degrees of success, a number of films have made an effort to imitate the aesthetic, pacing, and tone of Gladiator. Analysis of the movie has focused on its themes of stoicism, violence, masculinity, and vengeance. A sequel is expected to be released in the US on November 22, 2024, as Scott said in 2021 that scripting had started.
Maximus Decimus Meridius, a Hispano-Roman general, plans to return home after leading the Roman army to victory against the Germanic tribes on the Limes Germanicus near Vindobona in 180 AD. Maximus is informed by Emperor Marcus Aurelius that his own son, Commodus, is unfit to be emperor and that Maximus should succeed him as regent in order to save Rome from corruption and revive the republic. In retaliation, Commodus kills his father in private.
Maximus is asked to swear allegiance to Commodus as the next emperor, but he declines. The Praetorian Guard takes Maximus into custody and threatens to kill him and his family. His wife and kid have been crucified as he returns home to Turgalium after killing his captors. Maximus buries them before losing consciousness from his wounds. He is discovered by slavers, who transport him to Zucchabar in the Roman province of Mauretania Caesariensis, where they sell him to Proximo, a gladiator trainer.
Maximus fights in local competitions despite his reluctance, and his fighting abilities help him win games and gain reputation. He makes friends with German gladiator Hagen and Numidian gladiator Juba. Maximus learns from Proximo that he once served as a gladiator and was set free by Marcus Aurelius. Proximo counsels Maximus to “win the crowd” in order to obtain his release.
Proximo sends his gladiators to Rome to compete in the Colosseum as Commodus plans 150 days of festivities to mark the passing of his father. Maximus makes his Colosseum debut as a Carthaginian in a recreation of the Battle of Zama while wearing a mask for his helmet. He unexpectedly leads his team to win, and Commodus makes his way into the Colosseum to congratulate him. As the commander of the gladiators, he commands the masked Maximus to expose his true identity. Maximus then takes off his helmet and swears revenge. The crowd forces Commodus to allow the gladiators to live, preventing his guards from killing them.
The next match for Maximus is against Tigris of Gaul, a renowned gladiator who has never lost. Maximus wins the duel despite Commodus orchestrating the setting against him of many tigers. After that, Commodus commands Maximus to kill Tigris, but Maximus chooses to spare his life instead, prompting the mob to scream “Maximus the Merciful,” which infuriates Commodus.
Cicero, his former orderly, informs Maximus that his old troops are still devoted. He meets in secret with Gracchus, a powerful senator, and Lucilla, who was previously Maximus’s lover and Commodus’ sister. They decide to use force to overthrow Commodus, restore the Roman Senate’s authority, and have Maximus leave Rome and join his legions. When Lucius, Lucilla’s son, makes an innocent suggestion about the conspiracy, Commodus discovers the scheme. In addition to ordering the Praetorian Guard to detain Gracchus and attack the gladiators’ barracks, Commodus threatens Lucilla and Lucius. To help Maximus escape, Proximo and his men—including Hagen—make the ultimate sacrifice. At the meeting with Cicero, where the latter is killed, Maximus is caught.
In an effort to regain public support. Prior to the match, he stabs Maximus in the lung to obtain the upper hand. Maximus disarms Commodus despite his wounds. Commodus reveals a secret blade after the Praetorian Guard decline to help him; Maximus then overcomes Commodus and stabs him to death with the blade. Maximus demands political reforms, the liberation of his gladiator allies, and Senator Gracchus’s reinstatement before he succumbs to his injuries. Maximus sees himself reuniting with his wife and son in a vision as he is dying. At Lucilla’s request, his friends and allies carry his body out of the arena and refer to him as “a soldier of Rome.”
The following evening, Juba pays a visit to the Colosseum and inters figurines of Maximus’s wife and kid there.
CastMaximus Decimus Meridius, played by Russell Crowe, is a Hispano-Roman legatus who was made a slave and wants retribution against Commodus. Prior to the movie’s events, he has won Lucilla’s love and adoration as well as Marcus Aurelius’ approval. His residence is in the Province of Cáceres, Spain, not far from Trujillo. He swears revenge after his family is killed.
Commodus, played by Joaquin Phoenix, is the psychotic, amoral son of Marcus Aurelius. When he discovers that Maximus will hold the emperor’s authority in trust until a new republic can be established, he kills his father. After obtaining control, he works to impose absolute rule and reduce the Senate’s influence.
Lucilla, played by Connie Nielsen, was Marcus Aurelius’ older daughter and a previous lover of Maximus. Recently, Lucilla became a widow. While defending her son, Lucius, from her brother’s satanic tendencies and rage, she rebuffs her brother’s incestuous advances.
As Antonius Proximo, played by Oliver Reed, Maximus is purchased in North Africa by the grizzled, elderly trainer. He was a former gladiator who was set free by Marcus Aurelius and now serves as a tutor to Juba and Maximus. Reed passed away as the movie was being made, so this was his last movie role. Proximo was originally intended to have a life. The eventual Marcus Aurelius actor, Richard Harris, was a candidate for the role.
Senator Gracchus, played by Derek Jacobi, is an opponent of Commodus’ power and a supporter of Lucilla and Maximus. The original movie script called for Gracchus to pass away.
Juba, played by Djimon Hounsou, is a Numidian tribesman who was abducted by slave dealers away from his home and family. He becomes Maximus’ closest friend and ally, and before he passes away to be with his family in the afterlife, he motivates Maximus to overthrow Commodus for the greater good.
Aiming to restore Rome to a republican form of governance, Richard Harris plays Marcus Aurelius, an experienced and sage who names Maximus, whom he loves as a son, as his successor. Before he may get his wish, his son Commodus kills him.
Hagen, played by Ralf Möller, is a chief gladiator for Proximo and a Germanic fighter who subsequently made friends with Maximus and Juba during their conflicts in Rome. During Maximus’s effort to flee from Rome, the Praetorian Guard kills him.
Tommy Flanagan plays Cicero, Maximus’ obedient servant who serves as a mediator between Lucilla and the enslaved Maximus as well as his old legion stationed at Ostia. The escaping Maximus uses him as bait before the Praetorian Guard kills him.
Senator Falco, played by David Schofield, is a patrician and an opponent of Gracchus. He aids Commodus in building up his authority.
Senator Gaius, played by John Shrapnel, joined forces with Gracchus, Lucilla, and Maximus to oppose Commodus.
Tomas Arana portrays Quintus, a Roman legatus and captain of the Praetorian Guard who betrays Maximus by siding with Commodus (loosely based on Quintus Aemilius Laetus). In the expanded version, Quintus witnesses Commodus’s irrational side as he is made to put two defenceless men to death. Later, Quintus makes amends by forbidding Commodus from wielding a second blade in their combat and vowing to carry out Maximus’s final instructions.
Spencer Consider Clark to be Lucius Verus, Lucilla’s young son. He bears the name of his father, co-emperor till 169 AD, Lucius Verus. Additionally, he is Marcus Aurelius’ grandson. He looks up to Maximus because of his triumphs in the arena.
Cassius, played by David Hemmings, served as the Colosseum’s master of ceremonies for the gladiatorial contests.
Tigris of Gaul as played by Sven-Ole Thorsen. Commodus called the lone unbeaten Gladiator out of retirement to murder Maximus.
As a slave broker, Omid Djalili.
As the spouse of Maximus, Giannina Facio.
Giorgio Cantarini portrays Lucius, the son of Lucilla, who is the same age as Maximus’s son.
Valerius, a Roman general serving in Maximus Decimus Meridius’ army, is portrayed by John Quinn.