Hello and welcome to another Top Five Movie Moments. Having recently watched this amazing film for the umpteenth time, I did toy with the idea of reviewing it (maybe I still will one day), but I guess it's safe to say, with a film of this prominence, you've either seen it or don't want to. Therefore, I decided to do a Top Five Moments from it instead, but even this ended up being somewhat predictable! Nevermind, obvious or not, they're still pretty awesome scenes among a movie full of them. Hope you like them! :)
Spoiler Alert: the Top Five Movie Moments featured here obviously assume that you've seen the film in question or don't mind knowing about its most prominent moments so don't come whining to me if they ruin a film that you haven't seen yet!
5..."People should know when they're conquered"
There's nothing like a good battle to open a film like this but it has to be careful to not be so good as to make the rest of the film seem like one long comedown. Luckily, as most of us know, there was plenty of drama, intrigue, and action to come after this impressively shot scene pitting Marcus Aurelius' Roman army against the stubborn Germanic tribes. Far from revelling in the glamorous image many hold of the Roman Empire at its peak, Scott instead gets down and dirty, showing the battle to be as horrifying as they really were (though not to the extent of losing the film's '15' rating), with hundreds of muddy, bloodied soldiers, clashing in what looks like a disorganised mess (although this could never be the case with Scott directing!). A good few severed limbs, cut throats, and goodness knows how many other horrible injuries later, Maximus and his men emerge victorious, revealing what we needed to know before we go any further - that the hero of the title is not only a highly effective and respected leader, but a formidable warrior as well.
4... "He was a soldier of Rome. Honour him."
Yes, some would say the long-awaited one-on-one battle immediately preceding this scene, pitting the corrupt Emperor Commodus against Maximus, is more deserving of a place on this list, but in my opinion the climax to the scene, and indeed the film, is a more moving moment in itself. We might've been lumbered with the typical Hollywood happy ending which could quite easily have seen Maximus survive and replace the family he was robbed of with the lovely Lucilla and her newly-safe son, Lucius, but Scott's a better director than that, and what we're left with is a stirring ending which perfectly suits Maximus' character, and indeed his mantra - Strength and Honour.
3... The Battle of Carthage
Of all the battles in the amazingly-reconstructed Coliseum, this first one is the most satisfying for me. With Proximo's motley bunch of gladiators playing the hopelessly out-classed 'Barbarians' against the much more skilled, not to mention much better equipped Roman army, 'The Legionnaires Scipio Africanus'. As far as everyone in attendance is concerned, it's not merely if the Barbarians lose but when! Even Proximo is fully expecting to see his best Gladiators get slaughtered ("The Battle of Carthage? The Massacre of Carthage!"). Luckily, with the help of Juba, Hagen, and most of the rest, 'The Spaniard' is able to slip his General coat back on fairly easily, and the results are immensely entertaining. Even the unknowing Emperor Commodus is enjoying himself... for now!
Commodus: "My history’s a little hazy Cassius, but aren’t the Barbarians supposed to lose the battle of Carthage?"
Cassius: "Ahh... yes Sire. Forgive me, Sire."
Commodus: "No, I rather enjoy surprises."
Don't think he's going to like the next surprise...
2... "Are you not entertained?"
It didn't take long for Maximus to reveal his talents to Proximo ("I am required to kill so I kill") but I'm not sure even he was expecting this. After Maximus and Juba easily take care of their opponents in his first 'match', he's left to face the next horde all on his lonesome! Far from being worried though, he disregards Proximo's advice to take his time and entertain the crowd, instead ploughing through his opponents one after another, machine-like and effortless. Finished the last one by decapitating him with a dual sword-swipe, he turns to face the silent crowd before throwing one of his swords into the stands, striking a table and startling those nearby...
Maximus: "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? Is this not why you're here?"
He spits the ground in disgust and starts to walk away when then crowd begins to cheer. Louder and louder they chant "Spaniard, Spaniard, Spaniard". He looks at them in amazement and begins to understand. Could this be the way to retribution?
1..."My name is Gladiator"
After all he did for The Empire, I guess no one could blame Maximus for being a tad peeved at his 'dishonourable discharge' from their army, but when you consider the horrible deaths his family had to endure at their hands too, his rage and desire for retribution is understandably high. A good few battles later and he's made it as far as Rome itself. All Maximus needs it to stand before the Commodus long enough to kill him but he remains out of reach in the stands of the Coliseum. However, his luck changes...
(immediately after the Battle of Carthage)
Praetorian: "Gladiator, the Emperor has asked for you."
Maximus: "I'm at the Emperor's service."
(Commodus enters the arena. Maximus sees an arrow in the dirt amongst the bloodied debris and kneels to pick it up. The gladiators follow Maximus' lead and also kneel)
Commodus: (seeming a little like an excited child) "Rise, rise."
(Lucius enters behind Commodus and Maximus looks disappointed. He does not want to attempt an attack on Commodus with the boy so close)
Commodus: "Your fame is well deserved, Spaniard. I don't think there has been a gladiator to match you. As for this young man (Commodus holding Lucius in front of him), he insists you are Hector reborn, or was it Hercules? Why doesn't the hero reveal himself and tell us all your real name. You do have a name...?"
Maximus: "My name is gladiator."
(Maximus slowly turns around and begins to walk back to the other gladiators)
Commodus: (surprised and angry) "How dare you show your back to me. SLAVE... You will remove your helmet and tell me your name..."
(The Praetorian take a ready-stand, and the gladiators, without weapons, move forward ready to fight with Maximus. Maximus stops, takes a deep breath, removes his helmet, and slowly turns to face Commodus)
Maximus: "My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius. Commander of the armies of the North, general of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife, and I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next."
(Commodus is clearly in shock and without words. Quintus stands ready. Commodus stumbles in his actions, slightly turning to Quintus as though seeking help. Quintus orders "Arms" and the Praetorian pull their swords. Meanwhile, at Caesar's box, Lucilla has jumped to her feet in shock and relief to see that Maximus is still alive)
Crowd: "Live, Live, Live, Live...!"
(in an effort to calm the people Commodus extends his hand, struggling to give the thumbs up for he would obviously much prefer to give the thumbs down. Slowly extending his thumb up, to the pleasure and cheers of the crowd, Commodus turns and leaves, sending a look to Maximus as though to say this is not over, and the Praetorian leave, as well. As Maximus looks at Quintus, he holds his fist to his heart and slightly bows his head, acknowledging an old friend. Quintus stares back and slowly backs away from Maximus who raises his helmet in victory and the crowds and other gladiators cheer uproariously. They exit the arena to be returned to the underground cells. As they are lowered on a platform the other gladiators salute the winning barbarians, and in particular, Maximus, with cheers and shouts "Maximus, Maximus, Maximus." He stands in the midst of all the gladiators who triumphantly fought and beat the Legionnaires)
As far as I'm concerned, Gladiator is a masterpiece, and one of my all-time favourite films. Featuring career-best performances from a majority of the well-chosen cast involved, amazingly well-crafted sets and costumes, stunning attention to detail, a fantastic, stirring story that makes you feel like you've got a personal stake in the outcome... I really don't think there are many better films than this and the 'number one moment' is not only the best moment in Gladiator in my opinion, but one of the best, most dramatic and moving, and generally well-made shots in any movie!