“At the height of its power the Roman Empire was vast, stretching from deserts of Africa to the borders of Northern England. Over one quarter of the world’s population lived and died under the rule of the Caesars. In the winter of 180 AD Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ twelve-year campaign against the barbarian tribes in Germania was drawing to an end. Just one final stronghold stands in the way of Roman victory and the promise of peace throughout the Empire. ” General Maximus Decimus Meridius commands the Emperor’s army in this final battle for the glory of the Roman Empire against Germanic tribes.
Very soon the battle ends with a victory of Romans, though there are many killed and wounded among them. Anticipating his son Commudus, Marcus Aurelius wants to appoint temporary leadership of the Roman Empire to Maximus, and to return powers to the Senate. Maximus craves to wait until dawn, but before that time Commudus kills his own father, claims the throne and orders to arrest and execute Maximus.
General escapes the arrest and execution; being wounded, he is bounding for home. He gets there too late – his wife and son have been killed by Praetorians, sent by Commududs; and his farm burned down.
After burying his family, Maximus is founded unconscious by slave traders and taken to Northern Africa. He is sold there to Proximo, slave-merchant and ex-gladiator. Against his will, Maximus becomes a gladiator. Very soon he is getting very popular and goes to Rome together with other gladiators and Proximo.
Meanwhile, Commudus enters Rome too, and the first thing he does is an opening of Colosseum, which was closed by his father. The Senate dislikes the fact, but can’t do anything because of the arrests of Commudus’ opponents.
Two senators, Gaius and Gracchus, meet Commudus’ sister, Lucilla, and think about defiance. Yet, they all are too afraid of loyal to Commudus Praetorians; they are politics, not warriors and Lucilla has a son. They find the warrior for their goals in the place they all hate so much – Colosseum. In his first event at Colosseum, he skillfully leads a band of other gladiators to defeat an opposing force of chariots and archers, quickly earning the crowd’s praise through his resourcefulness and heroics in the fighting.
Upon being introduced to Commodus in the arena after the gladiatorial contest, he reveals his true identity to the stunned emperor, who tries to have Maximus executed on the spot. However, the crowd votes for him to live and so Commodus begrudgingly backs down. Maximus forms a plot with Lucilla, Commodus’ sister, and the senator Gracchus, to rejoin with his army and topple Commodus by force. Their conspiracy is accidentally unmasked by Lucius, Lucilla’s son. On pain of her son’s death, Lucilla reveals the plot of conspiracy.
As a result, Gaius and Proximo are killed; Gracchus, Maximus and all gladiators are arrested. Commudus decides to fight with Maximus at the arena, but before the battle pierces Maximus’ lung. Despite the deadly wound, Maximus defeats Commudus. With his dying words, he asks Lucilla to release all prisoners and make Rome a Republic. After this, “the general who became a slave, a slave who became a gladiator, the gladiator who defied the emperor” dies and meets his family at Elysium. I. Artistic contribution.
The film won five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor (Russell Crow), Best Costume Design, Best Sound and Best Visual Effects. It was also nominated for additional seven, including Best Supporting Actor (Joaquin Phoenix) and Best Director (Ridley Scott). There is controversy over the film’s nomination for Best Original Music Score. Award was officially nominated only to Hans Zimmer, and not to Lisa Gerrard due to Academy rules1. Ridley Scott, director of Alien, Black Hawk Dawn and Kingdom of Heaven, combined in his masterpiece an excellent acting of prominent artists, amazing visual effects and beautiful music.
The acting of Russell Crow was rewarded by many awards, but in this film one of the most prominent characters is Commudus, played by Joaquin Phoenix. It is also worth to admire Richard Harris as Marcus Aurelius, whose playing makes people believe he is the real Emperor. The visual effects of the film give a good insight of Rome of the ancient times: colossal, beautiful and muzzy megalopolis. The battle scenes are really appalling. The work of Hans Zimmer as a soundtrack composer is wonderful as always; and Lisa Gerrard’s voice makes people tremble from head to foot.
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