The Roman Empire will be in people's minds and therefore in the movies for many years. It is an inexhaustible source of stories, of heroic epics and miserable betrayals, of epic conquests and overwhelming defeats, of wars and peace, of literature, poetry and humanism; of measured and explosive behaviors. Our languages, our laws, many of our customs, the very nations of Europe, North Africa and Western Asia are largely inherited from the provinces and Roman conquests. For all this and much more we have the Roman Empire for a while in the cinema and in our culture. Gladiator followed several famous and award-winning films on the Roman Empire, notably The Fall of the Roman Empire (Anthony Mann, 1964), Spartacus (Stanley Kubrick, 1960) and Ben Hur (William Wyler, 1959) and takes of them scenes and stories. In fact, the director commented that Spartacus and Ben-Hur were part of his youth (as was also the case for many of us veteran movie lovers). Ridley Scott envisioned his film, produced almost at the beginning of the new millennium, as a source of inspiration for audiences to approach the Roman Empire in one of its moments of great military and philosophical power, under the Emperor Marcus Aurelius and in the beginning of decadence, under the disastrous command of his son Comfortable.
The plot is very attractive and witty. In it, the central protagonist, Máximo, travels all possible paths. In the beginning he is an outstanding Roman general of extraordinary feats, but deep down in his soul he is a farmer, a devout believer in ancestral manners and a loving home man. By chance of fate and the malicious arts of his powerful enemy, the new Emperor Commodus, Máximo loses everything, his murdered family, his life and his estate in ruins. Half dead and wounded, after an assassination attempt ordered by the cunning emperor, he is picked up by a gang of traffickers who sell him to a gladiator company in a Roman province in North Africa, which makes him one more gladiator, one of so many who serve as entertainment to the crowds before dying in any unknown combat. However, Máximo is an experienced fighter and an expert in fighting, who does not resign himself to death and who, little by little, is climbing the ranks in this dangerous profession until he becomes the most famous gladiator of the Empire, standing out in the very headquarters of the bloody battles of the Roman blood circus, the impressive Colosseum, which the film recreates at its peak. What does this film give us, so that a reunion with him is worthwhile? I want to highlight it as a journey through the environments of war, which bring us closer to the intimacies of combat and strategy, staged in the struggles between the Germanic tribes and the disciplined Roman legions, through an epic battle in the forests. With rich detail we appreciate the weapons and military gadgets that were used on the Roman side; crossbows, swords, spears, catapults, fireballs, cavalry, wagons and dogs, shields used in perfect formation, elegant helmets, breastplates and uniforms. All encouraged by the determined leadership of generals who fought together with their men, who were aware of each event. In contrast, the Germanic tribes only had, according to the history that we are told, with their impetuous and disorderly bravery, lacking war machines and strategies, being expected their sure defeat in the fight with the Romans, as indeed happens .