Gladiator (film)

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German title gladiator
Original title gladiator
Gladiator logo.svg
Country of production United Kingdom , United States
original language English
Publishing year 2000
length Theatrical Version:
155 minutes
Extended Edition:
171 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
JMK 14
Director Ridley Scott
script David Franzoni ,
John Logan ,
William Nicholson
production David Franzoni ,
Branko Lustig ,
Douglas Wick
music Lisa Gerrard ,
Hans Zimmer ,
Klaus Badelt
camera John Mathieson
cut Pietro Scalia

Gladiator is a five Oscars award-winning epic film from the year 2000 . It was directed by Ridley Scott and grossed approximately 457 million US dollars worldwide. In Germany alone, around 3.4 million people saw him in cinemas by early 2001. The US cinema magazine Empire lists the figure of Maximus Decimus Meridius, embodied by Russell Crowe , at number 95 of the 100 most important film characters in cinema history.


The focus of the film is the successful Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius, who is a loyal follower of the emperor Marcus Aurelius . Mark Aurel, who has been on the northern border of the empire for years to fend off invading Germanic tribes, sees his end approaching and wants to give Rome back to the people, i.e. to abolish the empire and restore the republic. He wants to entrust this task to Maximus, who is highly valued as the general of the northern provinces.

Mark Aurel's biological son Commodus is called to the camp in Germania and learns from his father that he is not to become the heir to the throne. Bitterly disappointed, Commodus suffocates his father, disguises his death as "natural" and rises himself to be Roman emperor. Maximus, however, refuses allegiance to Commodus because he recognizes Commodus' deeds, the murder of his father and the betrayal of the Roman people.

Commodus then orders the Praetorians to execute or murder Maximus and his family. But Maximus is able to overpower the Praetorians, is injured in the fight and fled home to Turris Julia (today: Trujillo , Province of Cáceres, Spain) in the Roman province of Lusitania . Once there, he finds his wife hanged and burned, his eight-year-old son crucified and his house burned down.

Badly injured, he loses consciousness after burying his family. Slavers take him with them, kidnap him to Africa ( zucchabar ) and sell him as a slave to the gladiator school of Antonius Proximo, a former gladiator. As a gladiator , Maximus is just as successful as he was once as a general. Under the pseudonym Der Spanier , he quickly earned the respect of his fellow gladiators and the enthusiasm of the masses. The gladiator troop was hired to Rome when Commodus set up gladiator games in the Colosseum in honor of his late father .

Gladiators who become crowd favorites have a chance to be released. This is the goal of Maximus. After a successful fight, Emperor Commodus steps into the arena personally and demands that Maximus reveal his identity. Maximus takes off his helmet, and Commodus has to realize that his rival, believed to be dead, is facing him for his father's favor. Maximus wants revenge for the murder of his family. Now he seeks the life of Commodus.

Maximus becomes the idol of the masses. His former lover and sister of the emperor Lucilla also visits him . She operates his association with Senator Gracchus. Commodus senses that the popular Maximus is threatening his empire. Commodus' longing for recognition by the Roman people, the erotic love for his sister and the awake sixth sense of a psychopathic lust for power drive him. But advisors advise him not to have Maximus killed in the arena so that he does not become a folk hero.

Gracchus, Lucilla and Maximus plan a coup. Together with like-minded people, they want to depose Commodus and restore the republic at the request of the late emperor Mark Aurel. Maximus is to command his former troops in the transition and thus secure the senatorial power. But Lucilla's little son Lucius gossips, and Commodus is able to uncover the overturn plans. He has those involved arrested. Maximus manages to escape from the gladiator school, but is trapped and captured again. Commodus now sees his chance. He wants to establish his own dynasty and blackmail his sister into inbreeding.

In order to finally overcome Maximus, he stages an exhibition fight between himself and himself in the Colosseum . Maximus is weakened beforehand with a stab in the chest . When Commodus loses his sword in battle, the Praetorian leader Quintus refuses to help. Maximus wins the duel with the last of his strength, but dies immediately afterwards. A procession of honor carries him out of the arena, led by the released Gracchus and followed by his befriended gladiators and Quintus. Commodus is left in the dust. Maximus' legacy of returning power to the Senate now has a chance.


Gladiator was the first monumental film with an ancient theme since the 1960s. His plot picked up numerous elements from The Fall of the Roman Empire from 1963. In this film, directed by Anthony Mann , Sophia Loren played as Lucilla, Alec Guinness as Marcus Aurelius and Christopher Plummer as Commodus. A figure comparable to Maximus named Livius was portrayed by Stephen Boyd , but this was a military tribune .

Gladiator used the rapid development of computer-aided visual effects at the end of the 1990s to revive ancient Rome in a highly idealized manner. Nevertheless, the film also focuses on the acting of Crowe and Phoenix as well as a whole series of actors of the supposed old guard such as Richard Harris , Derek Jacobi or David Hemmings , who turn the film into a classic drama film. Oliver Reed died while filming. The script was rewritten so that the character can now die a heroic death. His remaining scenes were supplemented by computer-generated images and body doubles.

Filming and locations

The shooting of Maximus' Spanish homeland took place in Italy, in Val d'Orcia , in Tuscany .

The shooting took place mainly in three locations, from January to May 1999. The opening scene, The Battle of the Teutonic Forests, was filmed in Bourne Woods near Farnham in Surrey , England , over a period of three weeks . When Ridley Scott found out about the UK Forestry Department's intention to deforest the site , he convinced them to let him shoot the scene there and destroy the forest himself while it was being shot. Scott and the cameraman John Mathieson use stop-motion film technology in the action sequences by using several cameras with different frame rates and rotary shutters.

The scenes of slavery, the journey to the desert and the school of gladiators were filmed at Atlas Studios in Ouarzazate , Morocco , over three weeks. The arena in which Maximus fights his first gladiatorial fights was built there from adobe bricks .

The scenes of ancient Rome were filmed in Malta , in Fort Ricasoli over nineteen weeks. A 15-meter-large partial replica of the Colosseum made of plaster of paris and plywood was built there, although it only depicted a third of the original structure. The remaining two-thirds were added via video editing in post-production . It took several months to build and cost a million US dollars.

The film was also shot in Val d'Orcia , a UNESCO World Heritage Site , in Tuscany .

Film and historical facts

Gladiator draws on historical people, events and cultures of the Roman Empire . Typical for a period film , changes and falsifications of the historical facts were made in favor of the dramaturgy, staging and the popular and idealized image of the epoch.


Pollice verso by Jean-Léon Gérôme 1872

According to Scott and his product designer, the idea of ​​a “Roman” film was particularly inspired by the painting Pollice verso by the history painter Jean-Léon Gérôme . Other history painters of the late 19th century , some of whom were influenced by Art Nouveau , such as Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema , also served Scott as models: " The greatest photographers were the painters who depicted these historical times, mainly from the 19th century."

Scott was also intrigued by the old monumental historical films of the 1950s and 1960s, particularly Spartacus , Quo Vadis and Ben Hur . This becomes clear both in the equipment and in the monumental scenes. As in the old monumental films, Scott also borrows from Leni Riefenstahl's staging of Triumph des Willens u. So on his arrival in Rome, Commodus was received by thousands of praetorians on a huge forecourt in front of the palace - but there was no square of this size in the inner city of Rome. At the time shown, the only suitable field of Mars was at the gates of Rome. In the 2nd century AD, however, it was already so heavily built over that it is also questionable whether a show of force on this scale could take place there.

Scott was also inspired by the film Saving Private Ryan , especially the Normandy landing. This becomes clear in the battle scenes, in which memories of the Vietnam War also emerge through the massive use of fire bomb-like projectiles.

An execution scene follows the pattern of modern military shootings , except that the guns are replaced by bows and arrows (anachronistically, the command to shoot is still “Fire!”). Such a method of execution did not exist in ancient times; the sword was commonly used during the imperial era.

Flyer as they are seen as an event announcement in a scene in Rome, there was not time, as neither cheap paper nor the technology for mass printing was available.

Scott freely staged the gladiatorial games in the film. They are like a slaughter without rules, in which it is important that as much blood as possible be splashed. The historically documented gladiatorial fight, on the other hand, was subject to strict rules, was supervised by referees and did not always end fatally. Big cats were not used in gladiatorial combat , but in executions and animal baiting in the amphitheater .


"This is an exact replica of what it looked like, in dimension as in architecture," announces Scott about the Colosseum on the DVD version of Gladiator (Dreamworks and Universal Pictures, 2000). And his production designer Artur Max adds: “We were very precise - I would say obsessed precisely.” The largely computer-animated “Colosseum” conveys the atmosphere excellently, but some details do not match: The conical granite columns on the edges of the arena are turning points Circus. In contrast, the large grille in front of the grandstands is missing to protect the audience from attacking big cats. The flight over the city to the Amphitheater Flavium, which is erroneously called “Colosseum” (a medieval word finding) in the film, is filmed from the model made in 1937 under Benito Mussolini and shows Rome one hundred years after the plot in the time of Constantine the Great . In the rest of the "reconstructed" ancient city, there are other inconsistencies and historical errors.

Costumes and equipment

Historically, the costumes are almost never correct. Among other things, the legionaries wear fantasy helmets and forearm bands that have never been seen before. Since the early monumental films, however, these forearm straps have been used as a typical signal when “antiquity” is to be conveyed. The Teutons, dressed like stereotypical Stone Age people, seem a bit strange to experts . Mark Aurel's daughter, on the other hand, wears an only slightly antique-looking robe and partly oriental henna paintings that never existed in ancient Rome. Another example of Scott's handling of the historical source material can be found in the gladiator fights shown : The gladiators fight against each other in fantasy uniforms from different ages and use weapons from different medieval peoples. Russell Crowe even wears a futuristic helmet during his first fight in the Coliseum. Copies of historical original equipment, about which we have very detailed knowledge today, were mostly not used. Commodus is shown in the film as shaved clean, but wears a full beard on all surviving ancient works of art, as was the fashion back then.

At that time, heavy projectiles were only used in trench warfare - and then certainly not in the “incendiary variant” shown, which is deliberately reminiscent of various Vietnamese films. The shown primeval forest in Germania is a partially clear-cut, forestry stand of spruce; actually there were extensive deciduous forests. Maximus' galloping before the great battle is also historically inaccurate: the German shepherd dog accompanying him did not yet exist at that time. The steed forehead of his horse comes from the late Middle Ages. Finally, the throne of Commodus is a copy of a Napoleonic throne from the classical period.


The "completed conquest of Germania", alleged by the battle at the beginning of the film, never happened: After the failure of the Roman advances into Germania under Augustus (see also Varus Battle ), at the time of Marcus Aurelius there were only the two relatively small Roman Rhine provinces Germania inferior and Germania superior , while most of the Germanic settlement area as "free" (Germania libera) or "large" Germania (see Germania magna ) was not under Roman rule. However, Marcus Aurelius actually waged a long war against Germanic tribes and was able to secure the Roman border in heavy fighting. The conquest of the Marcomanni Empire in later Bohemia , which the emperor was probably striving for , failed after a few initial successes, even if several sources claim that two new provinces were on the verge of being established. It is doubtful whether this is true, but in this respect the film at least follows on from ancient tradition.

The incest between Commodus and his sister suggested in the film , on the other hand, is a free invention of the authors, probably based on the incestuous relationship that is said to have been the case with Emperor Caligula and his sister Drusilla . At the same time, the film makes use of the repertoire of the classic tyrant subject .

In the last act, Gladiator tells the wrong story of the death of Commodus, inspired by the 1964 film The Fall of the Roman Empire . The motif of the sword fight between Commodus and the film hero Livius from 1964 is reinterpreted in Gladiator . The truth is, however, that Commodus - who used to appear as "Hercules" in mock fights - according to ancient sources, was strangled by the wrestler Narcissus , whom the concubine Marcia des Commodus had hired because he supposedly wanted to have her executed on the occasion of the Saturnalia festival in 192 . Death overtook him in his palace, but not in public in the Colosseum.

In parts understandable, but not historical, is the idea of ​​the emperor Marcus Aurelius portrayed in the film to appoint his most capable general in place of his biological son as his successor. Mark Aurel was the last of the so-called adoptive emperors (Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Mark Aurel). Due to their childlessness, the first four named each raised a general or administrative officer - as in the case of Antoninus Pius - to their heir. To put this into perspective, however, it must be said that some of the adoptive emperors were related to one another. In any case, Marcus Aurelius never left any doubt that his son was intended to be his successor: at the age of five, he was raised to Caesar , i.e. heir to the throne, in October 166 ; In 175 he became princeps iuventutis , in 176 he celebrated a triumph with Marcus Aurelius, and from 177 he was Augustus co-ruler of his father. So he had had all the rights and powers of an emperor for almost three years. When Marcus Aurelius died, the question of succession had long been resolved. The "philosopher emperor " Mark Aurel actually died in 180 near Vienna (Vindobona) of the plague and not at the hand of his son and co-emperor. Commodus then ruled as sole ruler for twelve years (the film, on the other hand, suggests a rule of a few months at most).

Maximus describes himself in the film as a "Spaniard" (English "Spaniard") and is also called that by others. So he is said to come from a municipality in one of the three provinces on the Iberian Peninsula, the inhabitants of which had Roman citizenship. His family could be knighted . Maximus may have worked his way up through various military functions to become an army commander, to whom armies were entrusted for a special task if necessary (i.e. only temporarily). His designation as a tribune would, however, be very unusual; more correct would be prefect , proconsul or legate (in the English original he is simply called "general"). Similar careers are actually documented in the time of Marcus Aurelius. Historical models for the figure of Maximus are likely to have been several historical figures: Generals like Tiberius Claudius Pompeianus , Lucilla's actual husband, or Marcus Nonius Macrinus ( consul in 154 ), but also the wrestler Narcissus , who killed Commodus in December 192.

The renewal of the free res publica suggested at the end of the film never happened, and the Senate , which in 192 had long since ceased to be a refuge of freedom or even “democracy”, did not even seek it (the film, on the other hand, seems to assume that the public is mistakenly assuming parallels between the modern US Senate and the ancient Roman body). Succeeding the murdered Commodus as emperor was initially Pertinax , who was also murdered after a few months, whereupon a long civil war ( Second Four Emperor Year ) broke out in the empire , in which Septimius Severus finally prevailed as the new ruler. He had the damnatio memoriae of Commodus canceled and even claimed to be the son of Marcus Aurelius and brother of Commodus.

Name Maximus Decimus Meridius

The name Maximus Decimus Meridius in no way corresponds to the common practice in ancient Rome , but is a modern fantasy product that was chosen primarily for its associative and tonal effect. "Maximus" is not a nickname ( praenomen ), but only appeared as an epithet ( cognomen ) (for example with Marius Maximus ). Actor Russell Crowe himself suggested the name and replaced the originally intended name "Narcissus", which the murderer of the historical Commodus carried. Crowe, on the other hand, thought Narcissus was an unsuitable hero name since a Narcissus only loves himself. Maximus, on the other hand, means “the greatest”, and Decimus Meridius, according to Crowe, indicates an origin from a traditional house; It is loosely translated: the tenth from the gens of the meridians.


The filmmakers point out in the credits that this is a "fictional story". Above all, the biographies of the people are to be viewed as components of a work of art, not as a representation of history. Nevertheless, they always emphasize that the viewer is offered an authentic Roman ambience. Since this is not true, commented z. For example, the film's historical advisor, Kathleen M. Coleman of Harvard University : "Historical authenticity seems to be a somewhat peripheral consideration." She later summarized her experiences in the essay The Pedant Goes to Hollywood: The Role of the Academic Consultant .



The great success of the film meant that more films with ancient themes went into production. Troja by Wolfgang Petersen , who had refused to direct Gladiator , as well as a film adaptation of the life of Alexander the Great by Oliver Stone  - the former even exceeded the international box office of Gladiator (albeit with a significantly higher budget), the latter was not very successful commercially. German television productions were Held der Gladiatoren , Attila and Die Nibelungen ; the latter achieved high ratings.

Gladiator received a number of awards. The film was named best film of the year at the Academy Awards . In addition, Russell Crowe received the award for best actor. Further awards went to the film in the costume design categories to Janty Yates , for the best tone to Ken Weston and the best special effects .

Nominated were further Joaquin Phoenix , Ridley Scott and Hans Zimmer and those responsible in the categories of Art Direction-Set Decoration , camera , interface and screenwriter .

The German Film and Media Assessment FBW in Wiesbaden awarded the film the rating “particularly valuable”.


“A monumental epic that is compassionately sentimental and at the same time barbarically brutal, developing an ancient soap opera that takes on a hint of grandeur through the stupendous recreation of gigantic battles and phenomenal architecture. Thanks to the sophisticated imagery, the protagonist's individual drama is entirely believable. "

“In the final sequence in particular, the atmospheric density created by the image and sound comes very effectively to the aid of the precisely and poetically formulated dialogues of the script with their laconic conciseness and restrained pathos. They are free from puffy antiquity or intrusive modernisms and give the language a convincingly 'Roman' and at the same time timeless character. In conjunction with Russell Crowe's outstanding acting performance, the result is by far the most successful finale of all monumental films, which, not without success, tries to soar to the heights of Shakespearian tragedy. [...] And the grandiose ending makes one more thing clear again: This is not a film about real historical events and real historical individuals, but about archetypal personifications of the dark and the bright idea of ​​Rome. And it is certainly not a film about real Rome, neither the past nor the present, but about Rome as a timeless dream. "

- Marcus Junkelmann

“Ridley Scott is not reinventing the genre, but delivers a furious battle epic in the style of Mel Gibson's ' Braveheart '. Scott had a budget of 100 million dollars for his 'Gladiator'. This allowed him to offer brilliant fight scenes and bombastic equipment. Australian lead actor Russell Crowe combines acting class (Oscar nomination for ' The Insider ') and physical presence. "

- Carsten Baumgardt : film starts

“Ridley Scott [found] in Gladiator [...] brilliant visual solutions for the murderous degeneration of the Roman Empire [...]. [So] Scott shows the audience the brutality of the Roman war of conquest with a battle scene [...] whose aesthetics are clearly based on the trenches of the First World War. [...]. Even more: when the new emperor Commodus triumphantly returned to Rome, it was visually modeled on Hitler's entrances to the Nuremberg Nazi party rallies, as we know them from Leni Riefenstahl's films. The tyrannical horror of the Roman Empire, shaken by the Caesarean madness, could hardly have been presented more impressively. "

- Andrew James Johnston, 2013.


The IMDb recorded 24 film awards (in 51 categories) and a further 27 nominations (in 78 categories) for “Gladiator”. A selection of these is listed here:

Academy Awards 2001

Golden Globe Awards 2001

British Academy Film Awards 2001

ASCAP Awards 2001

  • Top Box Office Films - Hans Zimmer, Lisa Gerrard

Bogey Awards 2000

  • Silver Bogey Award (for 2 million moviegoers in 20 days)


The German synchronization was based on a dialogue book by Dr. Michael nowka under the dialogue director of Tobias Meister on behalf of the former Berliner Synchron AG in Berlin .

role actor Voice actor
Maximus Russell Crowe Thomas Fritsch
Commodus Joaquín Phoenix Nicolas Boell
Lucilla Connie Nielsen Ulrike Möckel
Proximo Oliver Reed Michael Chevalier
Marcus Aurelius Richard Harris Werner Ehrlicher
Gracchus Derek Jacobi Bodo Wolf
Quintus Tomas Arana Bernd Rumpf
Gaius John Shrapnel Lothar Blumhagen
Hagen Ralf Moeller Pure beauty
Juba Djimon Hounsou Leon Boden
Cassius David Hemmings Bert Franzke
Cicero Tommy Flanagan Bernhard Völger
Falco David Schofield Joachim Kaps
Slave traders Omid Djalili Hans-Jürgen Wolf
Lucius Spencer Treat Clark Nico Sablik

Film music


After director Ridley Scott had announced for several years that he wanted to personally shoot a sequel to the Oscar-winning film, the scriptwriter Peter Craig was hired for the project at the end of 2018 . In June 2019, producers Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald said that the sequel would actually be realized. Both also revealed that Gladiator 2 was Scott's next project and that the content would be about the adult Lucius , on whom Maximus made a lasting impression 25 years after his death.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Certificate of release for Gladiator . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , September 2005 (PDF; test number: 84 722 V / DVD).
  2. Age rating for Gladiator . Youth Media Commission .
  3. Team Empire: The 100 Greatest Movie Characters. Retrieved January 14, 2018 .
  4. a b Toscania. Najpiękniesze punkty widokowe. In: Italia by Natalia. February 8, 2014, accessed June 22, 2020 (American English).
  5. a b Christina Zappella-Kindel: Bella Ciao: Looking for traces in Tuscany. In: OOOM Magazine. December 5, 2018, accessed on June 22, 2020 (German).
  6. a b c d Diana Landau: Gladiator: The Making of the Ridley Scott Epic . Ed .: Newmarket Press. New York, ISBN 1-55704-428-7 .
  7. ^ Martin Winkler: Gladiator: Film and History . Ed .: Blackwell Publishing. New York, ISBN 1-4051-1042-2 , pp. 256 .
  8. KODAK: In Camera July 2000 - Gory glory in the Colosseum. February 9, 2005, accessed June 22, 2020 .
  9. ^ Malta Film Commission. July 29, 2012, accessed June 22, 2020 .
  10. ^ Jon Solomon, Martin M. Winkler: Gladiator from Screenplay to Screen . Ed .: Blackwell Publishing.
  11. ^ Ridley Scott on Douglas Bankston in American Cinematographer , May 2000, p. 47 f.
  12. Heiko Rosner in Cinema , June 2000, pp. 34–38.
  13. Gladiator vs Triunfo de la Voluntad , comparison of individual settings from the Universidad Internacional de la Rioja (Youtube video)
  14. Marcus Junkelmann : Hollywood's Dream of Rome. P. 270 ff.
  15. Marcus Junkelmann Hollywood's Dream of Rome, p. 294ff.
  16. Article “Death Penalty” in: Der Kleine Pauly, Lexikon der Antike, Volume 5, S. 879
  17. Marcus Junkelmann: Hollywood's Dream of Rome. P. 214 ff.
  18. ^ Max in American Cinematographer , May 2000, p. 59.
  19. Marcus Junkelmann: Hollywood's Dream of Rome. P. 270 ff.
  20. Marcus Junkelmann: Hollywood's Dream of Rome. P. 195 ff.
  21. Marcus Junkelmann: Hollywood's Dream of Rome. P. 120.
  22. Marcus Junkelmann: Hollywood's Dream of Rome. P. 117 ff.
  23. Marcus Junkelmann: Hollywood's Dream of Rome. P. 215 ff.
  24. Marcus Junkelmann: Hollywood's Dream of Rome. P. 242.
  25. Marcus Junkelmann: The game with death. Verlag Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 2000, ISBN 3-8053-2563-0 .
  26. Marcus Junkelmann: Hollywood's Dream of Rome. P. 194 ff.
  27. Marcus Junkelmann: Hollywood's Dream of Rome. Pp. 290-291.
  28. His grave was found by archaeologists in Rome in 2008; see. Crypt of the “Gladiator” model found , SPIEGEL Online, Oct. 16, 2008 .
  29. Source: Audio commentary by the scriptwriter in the accompanying material of the deluxe edition DVD "Gladiator", 2 CDs., Universal Studio, 2000
  30. Marcus Junkelmann : Hollywood's Dream of Rome. Zabern, Mainz 2003.
  31. ^ Kathleen M. Coleman: The Pedant Goes to Hollywood: The Role of the Academic Consultant . In: Martin M. Winkler (Ed.): Gladiator: Film and History . Blackwell, Malden, et al. a. 2004, ISBN 1-4051-1043-0 , pp. 45-52.
  32. Gladiator on
  33. Gladiator. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  34. Marcus Junkelmann: Hollywood's Dream of Rome. (see literature), pp. 359-360.
  35. Film review on
  36. Andrew James Johnston: Robin Hood. Story of a legend. CH Beck, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-406-64541-9 , p. 119.
  37. cf. IMDb
  38. Gladiator in the German synchronous file
  39. Tobias Tißen: "Gladiator 2" is actually coming - and that couldn't take that long. In: film starts . June 13, 2019, accessed June 19, 2019 .