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Analyse the opening sequence and one other scene of the film ‘Gladiator’

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Staring Russell Crowe as Maximus, the film ‘Gladiator’ shows a General who became a slave, the slave who became a Gladiator and the Gladiator who defied an Emperor. This blood thirsty epic film released in the year 2000 won 5 Oscars and focus’ on the power struggle of the Roman Empire. This essay is analysing the opening scene and the final scene and analyses how the era and the characters develop. Both the scenes are similar yet different in many ways. At the beginning of the film there is a golden smoke behind the writing for the introduction.

I think this it to symbolize rust, therefore showing that it is old. Also gold is thought of as a rich and wealthy colour thus suggesting that the film may have something to do with wealth. The music that is played is very calm yet mysterious. I think that this is a good introduction because it suggests what the film may be like and lets the audience wonder what is going happen next. The scene then changes to a view of a Maximus walking through a corn field, brushing the corn with his left-hand, which shows his wedding ring.

This is to symbolize that Maximus is both a farmer and a family man and cares very much for both. Diegetic sounds of the corn moving, children laughing and the sound of peaceful winds can be heard in the background suggesting that Maximus was happy as a farmer. Also the colour of the corn is bright and cheerful. Maximus then appears on screen dressed in armour with fur round his neck. The colours seem very dull and sad and Maximus looks miserable. Whistling of cold winds can be heard and the music is still very calm.

Maximus watches as a robin flies away and smiles, signifying that he would like to have the freedom of the bird. The music then changes and a forest battleground is visible. As the music gets faster, horses rush past and the thousands of roman soldiers are shown. The army looks powerful, organised and ready to win a battle. The camera then zooms in to see Maximus walking through a crowd of other Roman Soldiers. When Maximus walks past them, they look up at him and smile, because they respect and trust his judgement and are all loyal to him.

This shows that Maximus is powerful in his position because he has the trust of his fellow army members. When the barbarian shouts and the white horse that had been carrying the soldier requesting surrender returns with its rider decapitated Maximus looks disappointed but not surprised. Therefore suggesting that he doesn’t really want to be there, and wishing that he wasn’t. Maximus then picks up some earth, rubs it into his hand and smells it. This suggests that he is an earthy man and is in touch with nature. He may also do this for luck before a battle.

He then says to his fellow soldiers “Strength and Honour”, I think by this he means that they have to stick together but also signifies the start of the battle. He then gets upon his horse and says “at my signal unleash hell”; this shows that he has trust in his army and believes that they can win this battle. As he rides off on his horse he is closely followed by his dog, this means the dog is very loyal to his master just like the roman soldiers are to Maximus. When Maximus is talking to the soldiers in the forest they all listen to him and respect him as a friend and a General.

As the battle starts the music restarts, sounding very powerful, just like Maximus is in the army. When the army are getting ready to fight they look very prepared as they have their sling shots ready, they have a trench that has been set alight ready to fire burning arrows at their enemy. This also shows that the film is set a long time ago as they do not have guns or bombs as we do today. The music sounds very military and is powerful and structured just like the Roman army; the music seems to fits perfectly with the battle.

As the battle comes to an end the events are shown in slow motion to make everything seem more dramatic, the battle scene looks very gruesome and shows how bad things were in the Roman army. Due to Maximus’ military precision they were triumphant. In the final scene Russell Crowe’s character, Maximus, has been reinforced and the audience are reminded of how strong and powerful Maximus is. Before Commodus, played by Joaquin Phoenix, and Maximus fight in the coliseum the audience are cheering for Maximus. This shows that they like Maximus and want him to win the fight.

The music that is played is again very dramatic and suggests that the film is coming to its closing stages. The petals that the audience are throwing into the arena may symbolize the love that they have for Maximus or the blood that has been shed in that arena. Maximus picks up a handful of earth and rubs it into his hands. This shows that like he did in the first scene he is a simple man, has simple needs and respects the earth. Also when Maximus picked up the earth in the first scene he won the battle, this makes the audience think that he may win again as it brings him luck.

When Maximus picks up his sword his face is overwhelmed with anger. He has built up so much hatred for Commodus and the way that he has changed Rome. Although Maximus is suffering from pain from his stab wound he fights with determination to kill his enemy. Maximus strikes Commodus with his sword and the crowd roar, this shows that they are supporting Maximus. When Commodus loses his sword and asks for Quintus’s sword, played by Tomas Arana, he refuses. This shows that even though his loyalties should lie with Commodus he believes that Maximus is in the right.

As Maximus is dying in his mind he visualises reaching for a door. The colours are very dull and it is snowing, this shows that even though its cold, this is the place where he wants to be. There is a contrast in sounds, whilst the non-diegetic music is soft and calm; the diegetic sounds that can be heard are of anger and hatred. As the fight draws to an end and Commodus is killed the atmosphere in the arena becomes very tense. Maximus pushes open the gate to his house and watches the icy trees swaying in the wind. This shows that he has returned to the place where he had wanted to be all along.

He then floats along the floor of the arena as if his spirit is being lifted from his body and returning to his family. When Maximus’s men are asked “who will help me carry him” many men walk forwards. This shows that they honour him for what he has done for Rome. Afterwards Maximus friend buries the figures of his wife and son and says “now we are free”, I think this shows that he has learnt a lot from Maximus and he is no longer a slave and Maximus’ spirit is also free and his duty finished. He then says “I will see you again, but not yet” meaning he now has his own dreams to realise and Maximus has made it possible for him to do so.

Throughout the first scene Maximus is shown to be a very strong and powerful man who treats everyone as an equal, with love and respect. He is also shown to be a very caring family man who misses being at home harvesting his crops. He has a strong determination to live as he wants to go home to see his family again. Maximus is the kind of person that everyone looks up to and wants to be just like. The film is set in the Roman times and we know this because of many things. When they are fighting they use arrows and sling shots unlike modern day guns.

Furthermore the colours that are used seem very regal and wealthy showing that the time this film was set in were very wealthy times. In the final scene Maximus shows determination to kill Commodus to rid Rome from evil and restore Marcus Aurelius’s dream of peace. He has earned respect from the crowd and men of power. Although many life changing events have happened to Maximus his personality and needs have remains the same. He was driven by hatred towards Commodus having had his wife and son killed and was determined to have revenge.

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