Sunday, October 4, 2009

Gladiator (2000)

TOP 100 FILMS: #68

After the death of his wife and son, Maximus (Russell Crowe) is taken in as a slave, and sold off to become a gladiator. As his fame rises, he finally gets his chance at revenge on the new Roman emperor (Joaquin Phoenix) who took all he had from him.

Let's face it, some films just ooze greatness. You may not like it, but Gladiator is one of the movies that has just stuck with me through the years. The great characters, the amazing directing, and the breath taking visuals make Gladiator one of the all time great guy films. Yet, it's more than that. Gladiator comes with a great story, strong dialogue, and character arcs that bring to life a whole new dynamic, and proved films like Braveheart, historic epics that is, are not flukes.

Ridley Scott, love him or hate him, has a talent for making high entertainment films out of very deep films, by using solid blend of style and characters to bring this film to life. Of course no director gets anywhere without great writing to back them up. Scott is very lucky in this regard as the 3-member writing team really grasp at the opportunities to blend action and drama. As such we're allowed this brief action sequences to entice, but these are not the core of the film. The story is the real arc, the characters and our desire to see them succeed brings it to life, and we're allowed to go on a journey with them, as opposed to the opposite found in most modern blockbusters.

This journey makes Gladiator one of the most memorable films I've seen in my life. The dialogue, the morality, the story, it all works, and when it kicks into gear you never want to let go. It takes a true collective of talent in order to make this work, and even then you're playing with lightening in a bottle. So when it does work, and does attract the mind and joy of so many, it ought to earn the respect of all those who watch it, even if it doesn't attach to your personal taste. Gladiator is just one of those films everyone has to watch, and everyone is proud to say they have.

Few historical epics reach the greatness of Gladiator, and even fewer can make a legend out everyone involved.

4 better thoughts:

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I always hated how one tone Joaquin's character was [although he gives a valiant effort]. And the film does leave me a bit cold. But I don't grudge it any of its wins. It's a good movie. And I am salivating waiting for Nottingham.

The Mad Hatter said...

Y'know, this movie gets a lot of flack for winning what some might call an undeserving Best Picture, but I think it has aged really well over time.

In hindsight, I think time has shown just how hard it is to make a good historical epic. For instance, compare this to the mess that was ALEXANDER.

Thanks for reminding me - it's been far too long since I've seen this one - I'll be que'ing up the dvd tonight.

Univarn said...

@Andrew It's true Joaquin's character is rather one dimensional. A bad guy with daddy issues isn't necessarily knew, but I think Joaquin elevated it above convention with a good array of emotional struggle (not just a me break he-man villain).

@MadHatter I can't remember what film was the heavily tipped favorite to win (I would guess Traffic), but I think when films like Gladiator win it's great for the Academy. As much as I'm a champion of best film should win regardless, if the Academy wants to keep 1billion viewers worldwide they'll need to throw the public some bones every now and then.

DEZMOND said...

I was mesmerized by Joaquin Phoenix's performance in this film, and that's why I seem not to remember anything else, it was so breathtaking and inspired.
And I don't see his character as one dimensional. When you have a complex psychological issue like he does, it just sets your mind in just one direction. As Ryan said, Joaquin made it very deep and very unconventional.

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