"What we do in life echoes in eternity."
'Gladiator'...Where to begin reviewing this colossal film?! A film that visualized a world that humanity will always be curious about. The glory of the Roman Empire.
In a few words the story goes likes this:"Maximus is a powerful Roman general, loved by the people and the aging Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Before his death, the Emperor chooses Maximus to be his heir over his own son, Commodus, and a power struggle leaves Maximus and his family condemned to death. The powerful general is unable to save his family, and his loss of will allows him to get captured and put into the Gladiator games until he dies. The only desire that fuels him now is the chance to rise to the top so that he will be able to look into the eyes of the man who will feel his revenge." (www.imdb.com)
World renowned director, Ridley Scott, tackled one of the spectacular moments of human history and made it come alive. Just like James Cameron, Scott had the will to dream big and create even bigger. This is by far one of his masterpieces as not only he gave growth into a long lost civilization but also managed to transmit most of all the ethical morality that a family plays in one person's life.
First of all, it would be very undermining of me not to extol the brilliance of the cinematography in this film. This is one of the main reasons the film was such a spectacular event in film history; the family imagery, the hearth of family unity, the morality between choice and duty, the battle scenes and the Colosseum, are few of the glorious images coming to life in our screens. One of the most serene, and mesmerizing moments is the beginning; the naked hand gently stroking the field full of wheat, the sense and the emotions that that moment transmits is a testimony of how familiar this film begins. Just like a human seeks the need for the creation of family, to build a world of safety, thus the film takes just from such a scene into the barbaric hoards of the north that Rome was trying to conquer. Such a magnificent elegance in the way cinematographer, John Mathieson (X-Men: First Class, Kingdom of Heaven, Hannibal), leaves his camera to move and sway the audience into the world he chooses for us to take a sneak peak on.
Nonetheless, the sound mixing and the musical score of the film leave none unmoved as both technical elements seize every opportunity to unite every image with the musical and sound effect in a blend of whirlwind of emotions. Of course, the always awe-inspiring score of Hans Zimmer (Inception, The Dark Knight, The Pirates of the Carribean etc) takes you step by step from low background musical thematology into the crescendos of violent moments and the releases you into an emotional background of empathy for the characters. You can listen to one of the tracks here!
And then there was that other thing; acting! Oh yes, this film has some top-notch acting in it. Beyond the smooth directing, the elegance of cinematography and the blending in of the sound effect, the acting comes to be the cherry on top of this glorious cake. First there is Russell Crowe...the Colossus of the Colosseum, then there's the veterans; the late Oliver Reed and Richard Harris, and the new-rising glorious star of the '00s, Joaquin Phoenix...the boy-villain, who managed to make everyone who sat down to watch this film hate him more than Hannibal Lecter, and last but not least the English thespian that still amazes audience with his presence, Derek Jacobi. It would take me ages to start analyzing one by one each actor's colossal performances in this film. They all in their own worth stand-up and give a very enticing, emotional-gripping performance. They make us believe in the humanity of the characters, in their beliefs, in their emotional journey.
This film stands out for a variety of reasons. Both cast and crew come together to create a wonderful story and an ancient world which we will always look upon with daze. Perfect film for the whole family, even for the younger audiences as well with it's fast-pace battle scenes and the gladiators in the arena. The proto-type version of Spartacus TV Series. For those who love to look upon the glory days of the gladiators, this is one-hell of a flick!