Wednesday, February 04, 2004


(Story in a jist - read this paragraph last:) The story is simple. Russell Crowe (Maximus) is a loyal commander in the Roman army. The King has a son, who, in the King's own words is not moralistic. And the King thinks Crowe would make a better successor than his own son. The villanous son, seeing these developments kills the father and tries to execute Crowe. Crowe escapes, but his wife and son get brutally killed. He turns up as a slave and is bought by a guy who supplies men to fight as gladiators. He fights his way forward and finally lands up in Rome's Colosseum to fight the biggest fight. The son who had succeeded by then, as the Roman Emperor tries to get him killed again but then finally, truth and honesty triumphs as Crowe the gladiator kills the villain in the Colosseum itself.

The picturisation of the film is fantastic. The film begins with preparations being made for a war to be fought in a jungle surrounding. Catapults and arrows loaded with fire are sent upwards into the sky and they come screaming down burning down everything they land on.

Men kill men with daggers, swords, spears, bows & arrows and soldiers on horse back kill and sometimes get killed by the land soldiers. Finally Crowe's Roman army emerges victorious and he's congratulated by the old Roman Emperor. The trouble starts when the Emperor sees in Maximus a worthy successor rather than his own son, Commodus, who lacks moral sense.

As the son kills his own father by first hugging him onto his chest and then slowly crushing him with his embrace, the brutal murder has Maximus revolt against him. He is arrested, brought to a deserted place, the executioner makes him kneel down and rises his sword for beheading him when Crowe asks for "a honourable soldier's death" meaning not to behead him but to pass the dagger straight into his neck's back, through the spine. While the executioner tries to do this, Crowe's reflex skills get him and he kills everyone of the men present there, and escapes. After all he's a General!

As he escapes on horseback to goto his own village to get to his wife and son, he's overtaken by the enemy. His son gets trampled over by horses and his wife raped and hung. Its a scene done well by Crowe when he sees his wife's charred body hanging, saliva drooling from his mouth, kissing her feet with a deep sounding ode in the background.

He, being a wounded man, becomes unconscious & when he opens his eyes again, finds himself captured by slave traders. He gets sold to a gladiator merchant/trainer who himself had been a Gladiator once and had become a free man now. Crowe gets trained, fights in amphitheatres, kills anything and everything that comes his way and soon makes his name as 'The Spaniard'.

His fame finally leads him to the great Colosseum at Rome where the Emperor, now the evil Commodus himself would see the fight along with the maddened Roman crowds. The set put up for the huge Colosseum is really breathtaking & amazing.

His master, the gladiator turned merchant-trainer keeps on saying "Win the crowd, you'll win freedom". As Crowe and his men wait for their avengers inside the ring for the fight to begin, Crowe says "Remember, we fight anything that comes out of that together. Together we stand, together we'll win". Chariots come racing out killing some men instantly who didn't heed to the Spaniard's advice and were standing alone. Its a beautifully choreographed fight scene that brings you to your seat's edges, eyes popping out with horror, when Crowe and his men bring down their enemies one by one.

As the victorious men stand there, the Emperor himself comes down to greet them. Its now time for Crowe, the obvious hero of the fight, to get himself introduced as he comes face to face to the sly Commodus. He is the perfect bad guy, with an asymmetrical cut on his upper lip and deep cunning eyes that spew evil on anything they see.

The stage is set now, as each man plans how to get rid of the other. Crowe is helped by one of his old friends and the sister of the baddie himself. As in many histories of Roman/Greek kings, the baddie loves his own sister and wants to bed her. But she's defiant and keeps him at a length. She too conspires now with Crowe to get him killed.

But the bad guy kills all of Crowe's friends and finally Crowe too is captured, beaten up and brought back to the Colosseum. There is yet another one-to-one fight with a specialist this time, hungry growling tigers on the prowl in the background making it more exciting. After slaying this guy too, and as the weakened Crowe stands there, the bad guy himself tries to fight him down to his death. The climax is also a nicely taken fight where finally Crowe emerges victorious by passing a small dagger into the villain's jugular ever so slowly. But all this had made him so weak that he too drops down and fiannly dies on the Princess' lap.

(Nov 22, 2002)