I remember watching Gladiator ten years ago, now, and listening to the discussion that a college roommate of mine and his friend had about the meaning of the movie. Was it about revenge or doing what is right? It’s hard to say, although I think it was about doing what is right more than revenge, but an as an aspiring writer, the plot of the movie is a prime example of how to build suspense and tension within a scene.

Gladiator was a revolutionary piece of film-making when it was made. Special effects had become a big part of Hollywood when Jurassic Park hit the movie scene, but very few movies preceding Gladiator reconstructed an entire ancient city with such vision and clarity.

The movie begins as a Roman general, Maximus Decimus Meridius, is completing his invasion of Germania with the Emperor Marcus Aurelius and his son, Commodus, in attendance. After the battle is won, the Emperor lets Maximus know of his intension to return the Empire back to the people and the Senate. Later, the Emperor notifies Commodus of his intentions, at which point the Emperor is murdered by his son who then claims the throne for himself.

Realizing what has happened, Maximus pleads his case that the Emperor has been murdered, but he is not believed. He is then capture and taken away to be killed in order to keep him quiet. However, Maximus is able to escape and makes his way back to Spain in order to protect his wife and son. But he is too late and upon his arrival discovers that they are already dead.

From this point on in the movie we are left with the feeling that revenge is the order of the day for Maximus, as he is first captured and kept as a slave and Gladiator, eventually making his way to Rome where he is to fight in the games honoring Marcus Aurelius’ death. When is meets Commodus, the new Emperor face-to-face in the arena, we see that Maximus‘ first thoughts are of revenge as we see him conceal an arrow-head which he plans to use to kill the Emperor. However, the arrival Lucuis, son of Lucilla, sister of Commodus prevents him from caring out his plan.

Later, we see Maximus‘ focus shift from revenge to helping Marcus Aurelius realizing his final dream of having Rome returned to the people.

Beyond having great special effects, Gladiator had an unparalleled plot, one that was original and imaginative, two qualities that are rare in Hollywood movies these days. In short, there is nothing bad I can say about this movie.

Rating (out of 5):

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