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Recurring Images in Gladiator to bring closure

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Gladiator tells the story of one mans journey to return home. It begins with Maximus as a soldier fighting in Germania and concludes as Maximus fighting as a victorious gladiator. In this film, the director Ridley Scott uses a series of repeated images to help move the film on and achieve closure. In this essay I will explain how he does this, and to what extent it achieves closure. After a brief historical background, we are greeted into the film with a man walking through barley. There is a non-diegetic and haunting female vocalist which leaves us feeling intrigued as to who the man is and what he is doing.

He has a ring on his 3rd finger, which shows us that he is a married man and has a certain degree of wealth to be able to afford the ring. However, the clothing that he is wearing does not resemble that of a family man. He is wearing clothing of a warrior, which shows us that he has more than one role in his life. We also hear the diegetic sound of children laughing in the distance. This could either be his own children on his farm, or his imagination of his childhood before the horrors of his life began. The way he grips lovingly onto the barley makes us think that he is clutching something that gives his happiness and strength.

To the hands, barley is both soft and sharp, which could be a metaphor of how it feels for him to walk through the barley field. As we are beginning to feel the mans peace and happiness walking through this barley field, a quick scene change snaps us into the harsh reality he is facing. There is a close up of Maximus’ face in clothes showing that he is obviously a soldier of some kind. There is a bluey-grey tinge to the scene and the diegetic sound of a biting wind surrounding him. This helps convey the bleakness of his situation.

We can also see the fur on his collar moving back and fourth which further portrays the strength of the wind. The haunting female vocal is still there, which suggests to us that he was the man we just saw, but he was only dreaming. We then see a close up of a robin flying away. Maximus watches the robin as it flies away with jealousy and a longing that he could be free just as the robin is. As it flies away, Maximus gives a rather half-hearted smile, which could show us that he is thinking about the robin’s life of freedom in comparison with his own. We then have a sound bridge into a makeshift camp in Germania.

We see several soldiers riding into the camp. The same bluey-grey tinge shows us that this is where Maximus is. The soldiers on horseback also show that a battle of sorts is being fought. The music has change into victorious battle music, and the way the soldiers are riding the horses makes us believe that they have come out of their battle victoriously. A battle scene takes place, and the scene ends in Maximus talking to the current emperor of Rome Marcus Aurelius. They start to talk about Maximus’ home. Marcus Aurerilus asks him to describe his beloved home.

Maximus replies describing passionately about the scents of his kitchen, and comparing the colour of the soil to his wife’s hair. Describing his house makes it easier for the viewer to place his surroundings when we see them later in the film. There is a non-diegetic undertone music which was we also heard at the beginning. This makes the viewer think about when they last heard the music and recall that it was indeed Maximus walking through the barley field. When Marcus Aurelius asks him how long it has been since he has been home he replies “2 years, 264 days and this morning.

This shows us just how much he is missing his home. The natural colouring of this scene gives it a warm feel and shows us that he seeks solace in remembering his home. Soon after they have spoken, Maximus is praying for the life of Marcus Aurelius and Rome. The music is non-diegetic and is used to evoke the feeling of someone wanting to go home. He kisses two small figurines, which could represent his wife and son. We also see an image of his wife and son layered onto the candlelight, which makes us feel a link between him and his family.

Layering is a soft way of editing, and in this case it shows the candlelight bearings his memories of his family. After Marcus Aurelius has died, Commodus orders his men to execute Maximus so that he can become emperor of Rome. As Maximus is told of this news, his main concern is whether his family will be looked after. The reply to his question is that he will see his song and wife in the afterlife. We then hear the diegetic sound of a sword being drawn and a sequence of fast moving, blue tinged shots. The first image we see is his path, and then it quickly moved onto his wife and song in the barley field.

We then see very fast moving dark clouds with the wind blowing in the fields. This can show that time of hardship and bleakness is passing. We can see a flash of lightning and horses neighing. Maximus barely escapes death and begins his long journey home on his horse, despite the fact that he is badly injured. As he rides home, non-diegetic fast music helps to pick up the pace as he rushes home. He then has a premonition of his wife and son being killed. The real colours tell us that he is not dreaming and this is what is really happening.

We hear his songs voice echo, which reminds us that he, is not there to save his family. The horses stride towards his son, and eventually knock him down and trample him. This is done in slow motion to make sure that the viewer realises what has just happened and to give it more impact. As Maximus approaches his farm we see smoke rising from a distance. The same music is played as the opening scene. This gives the first images we saw meaning. We can also relate what he said about his house when he was describing it to Marcus Aurelius to this scene.

Maximus looks up to see that his farm has been brunt and we see the feet on his hanged wife and son. The same haunting female vocalist comes in and evokes a mournful and sorrowful feeling. Maximus is unconscious and then transported as a slave. There is a completely black frame shown at this point, which shows us that Maximus is going into a new chapter in his life. The seemingly quiet music crescendos and finally explodes as the black frame because a sun rising and setting extremely quickly. This symbolises that time is moving on. There is then another black frame.

We see Maximus’ seemingly disembodied head moving over the ground and he flicks between consciousness and unconsciousness. The ground underneath him looks barren and desert-like, which tells us that he has been transported to another country. For the first time we see are bluey-grey tinged gate in a stone wall. This shows us that it is not real. It could be the gate to the afterlife where he will see his family, and the gate being closed shows us that he will not die yet. These gates show that going home for him would literally be heaven.

We hear the non-diegetic sound of children laughing, which reminds him of his son, and the same hand sweeping through and clutching the barley. He is still travelling between being conscious and unconscious. A male voice says to him “You will see them again, but not yet. ” As this is being said, we see a bluey-grey tinged image of his wife and son looking for him. This could also be that he wonders whether his wife and son ever look out for him coming home, or if they miss him like he does. Towards the end of the film, Commodus and Maximus have a final fight.

Commodus does not play fairly and stabs Maximus under the arm before the battle commences. As Commodus lies mortally wounded, he sees a vision of the blue tinged wall. The music that symbolises his home is played. By now Maximus is so ready and so desperate to die so he can see his family again in the afterlife. Maximus pushes a knife into Commodus’ throat, which kills him. Quiet music begins, and then goes into the haunting female vocal we have now heard so many times. Maximus’ bloody hand opens the door to the afterlife.

This time the door does not have such a blue tinge to it, which means that his dreams are becoming more of a reality. Through the gate, we see a whitey-blue path. The villa lays unburnt also. There is a haunting female vocal as Maximus collapses into a field of red petals. These symbolise beautiful bloodshed, as Maximus has finally got what he wants more than anything- to see his family again. We witness his passing over to death as his disembodies head passed over the sand once more. His wife and son now see Maximus approaching and his son runs to greet his father.

The final image is of Maximus walking through the barley field with his hand brushing through the ears of barley, just as we saw in the opening scene. This time however, the hand has meaning as we see just what it means to him to be walking through the field. By the end of the film, the images of Maximus’ farm and barley field have been played so many times that we almost come to expect it. Each time it is played we understand more and more of what he is doing and why he was there. It also conveys a lot about his personality and duties without having to give a lengthy introduction.

This is because as we see the images throughout the film they are put more into context, and so by the end of the film we have pieced together his life. We can say that Ridley Scott has achieved closure. Closure means to bring something to an end, and conclude it. Repeating the images of both Maximus walking through a barley field and the gate in a brick wall help the viewer to move on with the story by casting their mind back to something they were confused about before watching the image again. In conclusion, using repeated images throughout the whole of the film means that there is little to be explained at the end of the film.

This leaves room for a dramatic ending. From a viewers point of view this gives the film more depth and excitement, as they can concentrate on the final scene in which two of the main characters die. It also creates emotional impact, as the repeated scenes show just how much Maximus wants to go home. Ridley Scott used the technique of repeating images to give the view something to think about as they were watching it, but then be able to know exactly what the film is about from viewing the scenes over and over again.

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