Ridley Scott has certainly picked a winner, in the captivating epic that is gladiator! An entertaining, enthralling and almost completely historically inaccurate epic, starring Russell Crowe in the performance of his career, as Maximus, and Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus.
The film primarily focuses on leadership, drama and politics. Maximus is a respected and loyal general, turned slave, who then became a gladiator, and one that defied his emperor - a classic and intriguing storyline. Maximus embodies all admirable qualities, and has a heart of gold. He is, however, opposed by the jealous, obsessive and power-hungry Commodus who abuses his position of authority, as Caesar. Commodus is a character we all love to hate. The cinematography is impressive, and to be commended for capturing his character superbly, frequently filming him in the dark, or shadows (which create mystery and suggest evil and deceit), and sporadically capturing him in silhouette, to emphasize (almost metaphorically) his dark color, contrasting with the yellow and reds of a rising sun.
Characterization gets 10 brownie points; appearance, costuming, and performance were both entertaining and impressive. Mise-en-scene was used intelligently, especially during scenes before Maximus is to fight. He film also addresses leadership, as a principal theme, admirably. Maximus is a natural leader, loyal and respected, despite his social position as a Gladiator. Ironically, Commodus is jealous, obsessive and power-driven and abuses his position of authority, striving to be everything that Maximus is. His position of power is also captured and made obvious by the excellent use of camera technique, with the camera usually positioned upwards, to emphasize his 'importance' and superiority. The idea of leadership is also linked with politics, the dream that was once Rome, as Aurelius wished, for it to be a democracy. The cinematography, and graphics are incredible, the usually...