Monday, June 4, 2012

Movie Monday: Gladiator


After watching the trailer for Les Miserables about a hundred times last week, I realised that the last thing I watched starring Russell Crowe was the last half hour of A Beautiful Mind. And before that, it was Robin Hood. Which was, let's face it, pretty awful.

So I decided to rectify this immediately.
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Yup, Gladiator. Considering I'm a massive history nerd, it's not particularly surprising that I LOVE this movie. It doesn't help that it's got an all star cast, a kick-ass story, and some truly spectacular dialogue! Okay, so it's RIFE with historical inaccuracies. Like the fact that Commodus was Emperor for 12 years rather than about 15 minutes. But he does seem to have been totally bonkers, and he did like to pretend he was a gladiator and fight in the arena, and he was murdered, so.......... There's that?

Reasons why Gladiator is awesome:
1. Russell Crowe. He didn't win the Best Actor Oscar for this role for nothing!
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2. WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, HISTORY!!!!!
3. DOUBLE HANDED DECAPITATION BY SWORD!!!
4. Joaquin Phoenix. So creepy. So brilliant. So very very disturbing...
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5. The soundtrack. Okay, so most of Hans Zimmer's soundtracks SINCE this have had moments of "Uh, this sounds like Gladiator...". But this won an Oscar, so you know it's pretty great!
6. How it shows off so many different bits of the Roman Empire - Africa, Spain, Italy, Germany.
7. Richard Harris. How can you not love Richard Harris????
Hello, Dumbledore. Also, source.
8. The recurring scenes of Maximus in wheat fields. The cinematography is gorgeous.
9. The final fight between Maximus and Commodus. There's this element of "Haha, Commodus. You may have years of training, but there's a difference between drills and fighting an accomplished soldier. Enjoy that headbutt!" to the whole thing.
10. Connie Nielsen. She's amazing as Lucilla, who's such a fantastically strong character.
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11. There is much cleaving of heads.
12. Rewriting the Battle of Carthage by working together to kick arse.
13. Oliver Reed. The last movie he ever made. And Proximo is hilariously awesome.
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14. The incredible costumes.
15. It won five Oscars, and was nominated for another seven.
16. Djimon Hounsou. In so many ways, it's his character that keeps Maximus alive.
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17. Flaming amphorae being catapulted at the Germanic tribes. Wheeeeeeee!!!
18. Omid Djilali as the slave trader. I basically love him in everything I've seen him in. This is no exception.
19. Rome. Sure, it's computer generated. But you have to admit, it's still amazing.
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20. Derek Jacobi as Senator Gracchus.
21. Hagen, the big German gladiator dude. He's kind of great.
22. I get to yell "Hey, look! Lorica segmentata!!" at the screen. (I know, I'm a nerd. Shut up.)
This is lorica segmentata. The soldiers are wearing it at the battle in Germania. Also, source.
23. Chariots with whirling blades of choppy doom.
24. I LOVE that they included the awnings around the top of the Colosseum. Did you know that they used sailors to man them?
25. The fight between Maximus and Titus of Gaul. Wheeeee, surprise tigers!
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26. I love that the battles are bloody and muddy and chaotic. All too often, everything looks far too clean.
27. Seriously, can someone just get me a job as an historical researcher/advisor for movies already?? Please?
28. The scene where Lucius steps forward with the men to help carry Maximus from the Colosseum. *sob*
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29. It literally has a bit of everything - action, sadness, comedy, romance, drama, horrifying gore, history. All tied up with fantastic acting.

Plus, as always, the following quotes:
- "What we do in life echoes in eternity."
- "It vexes me. I'm terribly vexed."
- "We mortals are but shadows and dust."
- "I will see you again. But not yet...not yet..."
- "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED???"
- "The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the Senate, it's the sand of the Colosseum. He'll bring them death and they will love him for it."
- "Is Rome worth one good man's life? We believed it once. Make us believe it again. He was a soldier of Rome. Honour him."
- "Win the crowd, and you will win your freedom."
- "When a man sees his end, he wants to know there was some purpose to his life."
- "At my signal, unleash Hell."
- "Busy. Little. Bee."
- "If only you had been born a man. What a Caesar you would have made."
- "Today, I saw a slave become more powerful than the Emperor of Rome."
- "Those giraffes you sold me, they won't mate. They just walk around, eating and not mating. You sold me queer giraffes. I want my money back."
- "If you find yourself alone, riding in the green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium and you're already dead!"
- "The general who became a slave. The slave who became a gladiator. The gladiator who defied an emperor."
- "My name is Gladiator."
- "Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back."
- "My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life, or the next."

So. Thoughts? Do you love it? Hate it? Find it really long? Cry every time you watch it like I do? Quote it far more than you should, also like I do? I MUST HAVE ANSWERS!! Please?

K xx

15 comments:

  1. Seriously, this is one of my most favorite movies in the history of forever. The only serious critique of it is that I wish there was more exploration of Lucialla and Maximus' past. Phoenix does an amazing job as Commodus. He is so incredibly creepy and disturbing. Everything from the insestual undercurrents with his sister and nephew to his taunting of Maximus is flawless.

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    1. I read in the depths of IMDb that they were planning on doing a prequel that explained Lucilla and Maximus' past and that Lucius was going to turn out to be Maximus' son. And then somehow that morphed into "Let's have Maximus be brought back to life by the gods and appear at random moments throughout history". Because apparently Maximus is now RORY THE ROMAN. So yeah... I'm glad they didn't make that movie.

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  2. YES to basically everything you just said.

    The acting? Brilliant, ESPECIALLY Joaquin Phoenix. I love how he completely gives himself over to the characters he plays.

    And OMG THE SOUNDTRACK. You geek out over the history stuff? I geek out over the music stuff. BIG TIME. For me, the soundtrack can make or break a movie.

    I should really watch this movie again soon.

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    1. I'm pretty sure the first thing I ever saw Joaquin Phoenix in was Inventing the Abbotts with Liv Tyler. But I have absolutely no memory of him in it. I think him playing Commodus in this erased any existing sense of him in my brain...

      The soundtrack can make or break a movie for me, too. Probably not quite in the same way that it can for you. But if I don't walk out humming the theme? Chances are I didn't enjoy it that much.

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  3. Joaquin Phoenix is suuuuuuuuuch a babe.

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    1. Except for that time he decided to become a dirty bearded musician for a year as an experiment... But yes.

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  4. This is one of my favourite movies of all time! The historical inaccuracies have never bothered me because it's just so good. Must watch it again soon, it's been a couple of years now :)

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    1. Yeah, the inaccuracies don't bother me ALL that much (except for them killing off Commodus years early). If you brave the depths of IMDb, there are people going "Maximus wouldn't say "At my signal, unleash Hell" because the Romans didn't have Hell. And they would never have called it the Colosseum. It would have been the Flavian Amphitheatre" etc etc.

      But whatever. Those are the kind of thing you can put down to them changing so that a modern audience understands what the hell they're talking about!!

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  5. LoveLoveLoveLoveLOVE!!! There's a reason I saw it three times at the cinema. Gives me chills, every time, the way an epic movie should.

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    1. I honestly have no memory of seeing this at the movies. I have no idea why I wouldn't have, though! BIZARRE...

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  6. Ooh, Russell Crowe was SUCH A FOX in this movie (and, er, obviously acted brilliantly, to boot...heh).

    Joaquin really brought the evil, creepy vibe...had it down pat. Love how he's able to transform himself in movie roles, and that such a good-looking guy managed to essentially uglify himself in "Gladiator" through his character's eeeeeviiiiilness.

    Also?

    Connie Nielsen is one of Yogi's free cards (the others include Lorelai -- i.e. Lauren Graham -- and...drat, I forget the rest :P).

    But yeah, Gladiator is a freakin' great movie.

    XOXO

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    1. I'm still fairly astonished that Joaquin Phoenix didn't win Best Supporting Actor for this. I mean, I haven't seen Traffic so I can't really judge whether Benecio del Toro deserved it more than Joaquin Phoenix. But still. ASTONISHED.

      And Russell Crowe rocks the Caesar haircut far more convincingly than our beloved Pacey. Just sayin'...

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    2. I concur wholeheartedly that the Caesar suits Russell much more than Pacey -- never really liked the season 1 hairdo(n't) on Mr Witter, heh. And yeah, Joaquin totally should have won (I also didn't see Benicio, but whatevz :D).

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  7. WELEASE WEGINALD!

    oh, sorry, different movie.

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    1. Different, yes. Also incredibly and spectacularly wonderful? YES.

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