Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Gladiator Revisited

I'm not a classical historian so I asked wikipedia how accurate Scott's picture of ancient Rome is and it told me "not very".

The politics are simplistic. Why should we care about the people of Rome when we only see them as a baying mob?

The metaphysics are not at all simplistic. Gladiator is a film about death. How to live in its shadow. How to meet it. The afterlife sequences- in glistening monochrome- are a triumph.

Scott's greatest talent is for world building. His greatest defect is humourlessness. You belive in his Roman Empire- even though it bears little resemblance to anything that ever really existed - but you wish it wasn't so glum.

I'd forgotten how much time is taken up with intense, twilit tete a tetes.

Thank heaven for the actors- especially Crowe, Harris and Reed- who wring every last nuance of tenderness, humanity- even humour- from the portentous dialogue.  Mind you, portentous doesn't necessarily mean bad. There are some great lines: "If you find yourself alone, riding in green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled; for you are in Elysium, and you're already dead! Brothers, what we do in life, echoes in eternity."

The CGI- ground-breaking at the time- still looks pretty good. It's a very handsome film.
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