I am going to watch the film Gladiator by Ridly Scott. I hope to accurately describe and analyse how the director creates a feeling of tension, suspense and how overall he makes the film believable. I will not analyse the whole film, but just two of the scenes. The two scenes I have chosen are the first scene the battle of Germania and the last scene the death of the evil Emperor.
The points I am most likely to focus on are the camera angles, sound effects, music, the acting and the shots, also I will describe how the two scenes were made to be realistic with the aid of computer effects.
I will now briefly run through the plot of the story.
The film starts on the battle of Germania. The Romans win this and have a big party, during this party Maximums is asked to be the emperor of Rome instead of the current emperors son. Maximus refuses the Emperors generous offer.
But the Emperor tells Comodeus, his son that he will not rule Rome. Comodeus kills his own farther to take the throne. Comodeus, the new Emperor, kills Maximus’s wife, son and burns his home, he also arranges for Maximus to be killed. Maximus escapes being killed and returns to his home to find his wife and son murdered. Maximus is then captured as a slave and sold to an entertainer who makes him fight as a gladiator, he has a few fights and stuns the audience.
Meanwhile the emperor has trouble with the senate and decides to get the people of Rome on his side he will reopen the colessium and begin the games, Maximus is made to participate in the events. Maximus is named the Spaniard and wears a helmet so that his identity is not revealed to the emperor, who is in the audience. The emperor is very impressed with his performance and arranges to meet him. When asked to remove his mask and helmet Maximus turns his back on the emperor, the emperor was given the choice to kill him there and then but he declined so as to keep his popularity with the crowed. Maximus tries to escape but the emperor captures him and challenges Maximus to a fight. The emperor cheats in this fight by stabbing Maximus with a poison dagger before. In the end both Maximus and the emperor die in battle.
I will now analyse the first scene in the film, the battle of Germania. In this scene Rome battles against the barbarians of Germania. The scene and film starts with blurb that helps set the scene and draw the viewer in to the plot of the film. The blurb fades away as harmony music fades in and we, the viewers, are shown an extreme close up of Maximus’s hand sweeping through the grass. The colour is very bright, and the music promotes happiness in the viewers mind. This small section of the film is his thoughts of home, the harmony music which plays has a very important role throughout the film when ever Maximus is thinking about home to drive him self on that music is played. And the first part of the first scene links the music with home for the viewer because it is the first thing in the film that you hear.
Suddenly the director chooses to have a huge contrast, the harmony changes to music with a more prominent beat, this helps build up a lot of tension, and the colour changes to a much darker balance this shows that Maximus is not in happy surroundings. Loud sound effects of horses and metal hitting metal enters and the director chooses to show us close ups of a line of warriors faces psyching themselves up for the battle ahead the camera travels down the line of heads which helps the viewer actually believe that they, themselves are walking down the line.
The barbarians slay the messenger and hold up his head shouting in some foreign language. The music speeds up now and the beat becomes louder building up the tension: sounding like the beat of a heart pumping blood to the muscles to prepare them for battle. The camera begins to move faster: flicking around from shot to shot, building up the tension. Maximus picks up some of the earth and rubs it in to his hands, this is very important also because it symbolises Maximus preparing for battle, this is a theme that continues throughout the film; like the harmony music.
The number of camera flicks increases as the archers and catapults are loaded. Suddenly the music and sound effects stop just before the word “Fire,” which starts the battle. This sudden stop makes the audience hold their breath for a moment, this is when the tension is at its peak. Again the sound effects start and the camera flicks back and forth between long shots of the battle field and close ups of the warriors being killed. These graphical shots are used to shock the audience and help add to the atmosphere of immediate death. During the battle the camera most of the time is on Maximus slaying barbarians in close combat, and on nearly every kill there is a very short patch of slow mo this is also done to add to the immediate feel of death and add to the look of destruction in the scene. Towards the end of the scene a higher percentage of the filming is in slow mo and the harmony music is played again, this gives the viewer time to think and it also shows that Maximus has done his job and is looking forward to going home.
I will now analyse my second scene that is the last scene in the film, the final fight.
This scene starts with depressing music and Maximus chained up to a wall, captured. The Emperor enters the director chooses to have a close up of Maximus going over the emperors shoulder to make you, the viewer, feel as if your really in the conversation and with the characters. They have a conversation in whispers which shows that what comodus is about to do and say next is very secretive, the emperor challenges Maximus to a fight and stabs him in the side with a poisoned dagger. On impact the viewers hear a loud hissing sound with an echo and they see a extra close up of the wound which shocks the audience and makes them think of death, the camera flicks to Maximus’s face which for the first time displays physical pain. The Emperor now talks faster displaying nervousness. He rushes out of the door shouting “Strap on his armour and conceal the wound,” The two of them rise in to the arena and a shaft of light and rose petals fall on to them this could be to signify preparing for the afterlife.
The fight starts and again as in the first scene quick thumping music is played to help create a feeling of suspense and tension. The director chooses to break away from the action and give the viewers a panoramic shot for a moment to show the viewers the sheer scale of the coliseum this panoramic view is made believable by the aid of a computer generated crowd. The viewers are reunited with the fight and like in the last scene that I analysed the camera changes angle rapidly to add to the action. The director uses slow mo in this scene very cleverly; Maximus trips the emperor in slow mo but the film speeds back up again as soon as the emperor hits the floor.
The emperor loses his sword in the fight and asks one of his armed guards for his but the guard makes it a fair fight and keeps hold tight of his sword. Maximus drops his sword and the emperor pulls out a dagger from his sleeve and begins to swipe at Maximus, Maximus beats the emperor to the floor and stabs him in the neck with the emperors own dagger killing him. At this point there is no music which makes the audience hold their breath as in the first scene. The audience sees a vision of Maximus’s hand opening the door to the afterlife and meeting his family again then Maximus falls down dead because of the poison.
I think that Ridley Scott achieved well in over all making this film very believable, exciting and epic with the use of acting, sound effects, camera angles and shots and with the music. I thought it was a good interesting action packed film with an excellent storyline.