Essay On "Gladiator".

1117 words - 4 pages

Gladiator, though not the most intellectually stimulating film of this decade, it was deeper and more complexed than one might gather from it at first glance. Its theme was not a simple "good-guy versus bad-guy" as one might gather from the title. In fact, Gladiator in essence had very little to do with gladiators. It dealt with the tragic changing of power, deceit, and old alliances. It depicts Maximum's struggle against decadence in the Roman society and his efforts to give Rome back to the people while at the same time revenging his murdered family.The plot of this film is relatively simple. Marcus Aurelius, emperor of Rome at the time, asks Maximus, his favorite general, to become emperor after his death and eventually restore the power to the senate. Commodus, the son of emperor, is jealous of Maximus and kills his father, afterwards asking Maximus for his loyalty. When Maximus refuses, Commodus attempts to have him and his family killed; he succeeds in killing his family, but fails to kill him. Instead, Maximus is captured by slave traders and becomes a gladiator, a job that lends itself to his leadership skills and warrior abilities. Throughout his career as a gladiator, Maximum's primary objectives are to save Rome from Commodus and to avenge the murder of his family. Conveniently, both objectives have the same solution.The film opens, essentially, with a scene depicting a pitched battle between Romans and German barbarians. Maximus is at this point commander of a Roman legion, and the legion performs masterfully. Against wildly roaring barbarians coagulated into an unruly mob, the Roman legionnaires advance with discipline and even, in some ways, grace. All the while, the superior Roman technology rains fire upon the barbarians. The effect of this imagery is to illustrate not only the power of the Roman legions, nor even their relative modernity, but also to demonstrate the pride Maximus has in them and in Rome.Maximums' role as a general is not the result of megalomania but rather a function of his love for Rome, for his family, and for his friend, Marcus Aurelius. This is clearly demonstrated when he is offered the empire of Rome from the dying emperor, and Maximus, the family man, tries to refuse. Maximus is torn between his own desire to be with his family and his desire to, essentially, help his friend and country by taking over upon Aurelius' death and then handing over power to the Senate. This is a clear indicator that he is not power mad; he would rather tend his farm and family rather than a huge block of the world's population. His hopes of spending time with his family are ultimately shattered when, upon his return home, he finds his wife and child dead, mutilated and hanging. Their deaths were at the hand of Commodus, a character who is in many respects an opposite of Maximus. Commodus yearns for power and cares little for his family on any other level than at the superficial one. After all, what person who truly loved his...

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