Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed , Richard Harris, Derek Jacobi , Djimon Hounsou, David Schofield, John Shrapnel, Tomas Arana, Ralf Moeller, Spencer Treat Clark, David Hemmings, Tommy Flanagan, Sven-Ole Thorsen.
The opening battle scene was not shot in the forests of southern Germany but in fact Farnham Wood in Surrey
Ridley Scott directed this historical epic in the year 2000. Set in Roman times, the story is based on historical writings of the time of Emperor Commodus, towards the end of the 2nd century AD. It focuses on the struggles of Roman General Maximus, played by Russell Crowe. The film also stars Joaquin Pheonix, Derek Jacobi and Oliver Reed.
Following his victory against the Germanic hordes, Maximus is asked to temporarily take over the leadership of Rome by the dying Emperor Aurelius, with the ultimate aim being to return control to the Senate. This angers Aurelius' son Commodus, who murders his father in his rage. He then asks Maximus to swear his loyalty. Maximus refuses, so Commodus arranges for his wife and child to be murdered. The distraught Maximus is taken by slave traders to North Africa, where he trains as a gladiator under Proximo (himself a former gladiator). He returns to Rome to fight in front of his old foe Commodus, who has ironically reopened the gladiatorial contests in honour of his father Aurelius. Maximus fights with a mask so the emperor cannot see it is he who leads Proximo's gladiators to victory against the stronger force from Rome. By the time he finds out who it is, Commodus cannot kill Maximus as the crowd have taken to the gladiator. With Commodus' own popularity on the wane he dare not risk enraging the mob.
Following this contest, Maximus takes part in an attempted coup, after finding that many of his old troops are still loyal to him. The coup fails, however, and Maximus is captured. Commodus challenges him to a duel in the Colosseum but first stabs the captive Maximus in the lung and has the wound concealed prior to the combat. Maximus still overcomes Commodus, but dies himself shortly afterwards. He is seen wandering off to be reunited with his wife and son in the afterlife.
One of the most famous scenes in the film is the dramatic opening battle. This was filmed on location at Bourne Woods near Farnham in Surrey. Britain has many Roman historical sites worth a visit, from the waters at Aquae Sulis ( Bath in the West Country) to the various Roman villas and palaces such as Fishbourne Roman Palace near Chichester in Sussex. If you fancy a trek further north, there is Hadrian's Wall ; once the dividing line between the Roman territories in England and the fearsome Picts and Scots of the north
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