- Two-disc set
- "HBO First Look" Making Of
- The Learning Channel's "The Bloodsport of a Gladiator"
- 25 minutes of Deleted Scenes with director's commentary
- Treasure Chest 7 minute montage of additional unused footage
- Interview with Hans Zimmer on scoring the film
- Two Behind-the-scenes featurettes
- One-Of-A-Kind production diary written by actor Spencer Treat Clark ("Lucius")
- Slide show featuring concept art and storyboards
- Photo galllery from Behind-the-scenes of Gladiator set
Gladiator Signature Selection
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A man robbed of his name and his dignity strives to win them back, and gain the freedom of his people, in this epic historical drama from director Ridley Scott. In the year 180, the death of emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) throws the Roman Empire into chaos. Maximus (Russell Crowe) is one of the Roman army's most capable and trusted generals and a key advisor to the emperor. As Marcus' devious son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) ascends to the throne, Maximus is set to be executed. He escapes, but is captured by slave traders. Renamed Spaniard and forced to become a gladiator, Maximus must battle to the death with other men for the amusement of paying audiences. His battle skills serve him well, and he becomes one of the most famous and admired men to fight in the Colosseum. Determined to avenge himself against the man who took away his freedom and laid waste to his family, Maximus believes that he can use his fame and skill in the ring to avenge the loss of his family and former glory. As the gladiator begins to challenge his rule, Commodus decides to put his own fighting mettle to the test by squaring off with Maximus in a battle to the death. Gladiator also features Derek Jacobi, Connie Nielsen, Djimon Hounsou, and Oliver Reed, who died of a heart attack midway through production.
A big-budget summer epic with money to burn and a scale worthy of its golden Hollywood predecessors, Ridley Scott's Gladiator is a rousing, grisly, action-packed epic that takes moviemaking back to the Roman Empire via computer-generated visual effects. While not as fluid as the computer work done for, say, Titanic, it's an impressive achievement that will leave you marveling at the glory that was Rome, when you're not marveling at the glory that is Russell Crowe. Starring as the heroic general Maximus, Crowe firmly cements his star status both in terms of screen presence and acting chops, carrying the film on his decidedly non-computer-generated shoulders as he goes from brave general to wounded fugitive to stoic slave to gladiator hero. Gladiator's plot is a whirlwind of faux-Shakespearean machinations of death, betrayal, power plays, and secret identities (with lots of faux-Shakespearean dialogue ladled on to keep the proceedings appropriately "classical"), but it's all briskly shot, edited, and paced with a contemporary sensibility. Even the action scenes, somewhat muted but graphic in terms of implied violence and liberal bloodletting, are shot with a veracity that brings to mind--believe it or not--Saving Private Ryan, even if everyone is wearing a toga. As Crowe's nemesis, the evil emperor Commodus, Joaquin Phoenix chews scenery with authority, whether he's damning Maximus's popularity with the Roman mobs or lusting after his sister Lucilla (beautiful but distant Connie Nielsen); Oliver Reed, in his last role, hits the perfect notes of camp and gravitas as the slave owner who rescues Maximus from death and turns him into a coliseum star. Director Scott's visual flair is abundantly in evidence, with breathtaking shots and beautiful (albeit digital) landscapes, but it's Crowe's star power that will keep you in thrall--he's a true gladiator, worthy of his legendary status. Hail the conquering hero! --Mark Englehart
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It seems the only definitive way to tell if you have the new version is to look at the innermost rings on the underside of Disc One itself. Hold it up to the light, and at the end of a string of letters and numbers, you should see "B1R2". If you have anything else (i.e. B1R1), you have the original version and NOT the remastered one!
If so, exchange it promptly.
I'll blame the writers for making Commodus out to be worse than the historians make him. That is pretty difficult to do. In history, Commodus had a reputation for neglecting the day-to-day maintenance of the empire in favor of Roman imperial parties with all the debauchery that entails. Commodus did have a whimsical side that wasn't explored in the film. He liked to dress up as Hercules, carrying a club over his shoulder and a lion's hide for a jacket. One thing Commodus did do to scandalize the Roman nobility that was dipicted in the film was to appear as a gladiator in the Colosseum, but this is not how he met his end. After twelve years as emperor and about as popular as an outbreak of plague, a palace conspiracy was hatched in which his mistress attempted to poison his food, but he survived by purging the meal. Later in the day, his wresting partner was sent to strangle him in his bath. That was more successful. The Seante damned his memory, making him only the second emperor to be so dishonored, the other being Nero.
This is the second movie I've seen which depicts Commodus as the assassin of Marcus Aurelius. The other is the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a film made in 1964. Sophia Loren played Lucilla and was easily the bet thing about the movie. In both films, Commodus is prompted to murder his father when he decides to name another man as successor. In truth, Marcus Aurelius died of natural causes and there was never any doubt about who he wanted to succeed him. Commodus had been co-emperor with his father for the last three years of Marcus Aurelius' life. Marcus Aurelius wasn't as good an emperor as his reputation would suggest. Classical scholars have a hard time reconciling the fact that an emperor who wrote a book of philosophical musing that is still in print and widely read today wasn't a perfect ruler.
Lucilla became involved in a plot to assassinate Commodus early in his reign. The deed was to be carried out by a nephew of both Commodus and Lucilla, but he botched the job. Lucilla was exiled to Capri, where Commodus saw to it that she was quietly executed sometime later.
If I have an opportunity to meet Joaquin Phoenix, I would ask him how he prepared for the part, assuming that he is a method actor. It would seem that classical historians would not have been as great of help as it might appear as this Commodus, while well played by Mr. Phoenix, could have been made more interesting by incorporating actual actual manifestations of his unbalanced personality.
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