Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: David Franzoni (story), David Franzoni (screenplay), John Logan (screenplay), William Nicholson (screenplay)
Stars: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed
Runtime: 155 min
Genre: Action, Drama
Released: 05 May 2000
Synopsis: Maximus is a powerful Roman general, loved by the people and the aging Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Before his death, the Emperor chooses Maximus to be his heir over his own son, Commodus, and a power struggle leaves Maximus and his family condemned to death. The powerful general is unable to save his family, and his loss of will allows him to get captured and put into the Gladiator games until he dies. The only desire that fuels him now is the chance to rise to the top so that he will be able to look into the eyes of the man who will feel his revenge.
In Gladiator, victorious general Maximus Decimus Meridias has been named keeper of Rome and its empire by dying emperor Marcus Aurelius, so that rule might pass from the Caesars back to the people and Senate. Marcus’ neglected and power-hungry son, Commodus, has other ideas, however. Escaping an ordered execution, Maximus hurries back to his home in Spain, too late to save his wife and son from the same order. Taken into slavery and trained as a gladiator by Proximo, Maximus lives only that he might someday take his revenge and fulfill the dying wish of his emperor. The time soon comes when Proximo’s troupe is called to Rome to participate in a marathon of gladiator games held at the behest of the new emperor, Commodus. Once in Rome, Maximus wastes no time in making his presence known, and is soon involved in a plot to overthrow the emperor with his former-love Lucilla, Commodus’ sister, after whom he lusts, and also the widowed mother of Lucius, heir to the empire after his uncle, and democratic-minded senator, Gracchus.
A dying Marcus Aurelius plans to name his loyal and brave General Maximus as his successor in order to restore the power of the Roman Senate. However, his power-hungry, jealous son Commodus learns of the plan, murders Marcus Aurelius, and plans to execute Maximus in order to secure his claim to the throne. Maximus escapes execution, but is sold into slavery and is forced to become a gladiator. Eventually, Maximus and his fellow gladiators are sent to Rome to perform for Commodus. Through his bravery he wins over the masses and reveals his true identity, much to the chagrin of Commodus. Can Maximus use his newfound popularity to avenge Marcus Aurelius’ death, or will Commodus be able to keep the throne?
As Commodus collapses in the now-silent Colosseum, a dying Maximus sees his wife and son in the afterlife. He reaches for them, but is pulled back to reality by the Praetorian prefect Quintus, who asks for instructions. Maximus orders the release of Proximo’s gladiators and Senator Gracchus, whom he reinstates and instructs to return Rome to a Senate-based government. Maximus collapses, and Lucilla rushes to his aid. After being reassured that her son is safe and Commodus is dead, Maximus dies and wanders into the afterlife to his home and family in the distance. Senator Gracchus and Proximo’s gladiators carry his body out of the Colosseum. That night, a newly-freed Juba buries Maximus’ two small statues of his wife and son in the Colosseum (in the patch of Maximus’ blood), and says that he too will eventually join them, “but not yet.”