Gladiator is a movie about a struggle toward authority or power, and revenge in the setting of ancient Rome. The movie received high praise due to its realistic action scenes.
The movie was released in 2000, but is still popular because of excellent actors’ wonderful performances. The main characters are Maximus (Russell Crowe) and Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Both Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix are famous for their authentic acting skills, which were revealed in the movie Les Miserables and Joker.
Maximus is a commander of an army regiment, fighting against Germanic tribes. After the war, he desires to return to his hometown, dreaming of a stable life with his wife and children. However, Marcus Aurelius, emperor of Rome, wants to make Maximus his successor to restore Rome as a republican regime. The emperor’s son Commodus, the heir to the throne, kills his father in a rage. He hides the assassination and demands the loyalty of Maximus in vain. Maximus declines it and is given the stigma of a betrayer. He barely escapes Commodus’ attack.
The war ends, and Maximus returns home. However, his wife and children have already been murdered by Commodus. Maximus, discouraged and injured, is arrested by Commodus’ subordinates and sold as a gladiator. Maximus becomes a most popular gladiator, although he does not try to be so.
In the meantime, Commodus succeeds the throne, holding a nationwide gladiator festival to relieve the sentiment of public frustration. Maximus participates in the festival, the winner of which can be freed from bondage of being a gladiator which is basically the same as a slave.
Commodus tries to kill Maximus, but the public supports Maximus. Eventually, Maximus completes his revenge by killing Commodus. However, he also dies due to the injury inflicted by Commodus, seeing a vision of his wife and children.
The movie delivers the message that struggle toward the power is empty. Commodus, who desires to gain more authority through the gladiator festival, gets trapped in his own trick. Maximus, who also killed lots of people as commander, meets his miserable ending. The only thing he has wanted is a peaceful life with his family, but his dream never has the chance to come true because of bloody conflicts and misfortune.
The critics have applauded the movie, commenting that it well represents the fierce struggle toward gaining authority and power in the ancient Roman period. Also, the brilliant performances of Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix are praised for their contribution to the movie’s lasting reputation as a masterpiece.