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How Is War Presented In The Film 'Gladiator'?

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Introduction

COURSEWORK - HOW IS WAR PRESENTED IN THE FILM 'GLADIATOR'? _________________ BY DAISY TOWNSEND December 2002 Made in the year 2000, 'Gladiator' is directed by Riley Scott and based on a young general whose life faces some dramatic changes. Russell Crowe plays General Maximus Decimus Meridius, a successive soldier and loving family man to his wife and young son. Maximus is respected by his soldiers and those that know him. However, when the Emperor's jealous son finds out that his father has offered his empire to Maximus rather than him, he is infuriated. To ensure that this does not happen and he is emperor he, Commidus, decides he must kill his already dying father before Maximus can take his place. Not stopping at that once it succeeds, he then tries to have Maximus killed. When the plan fails and Maximus escapes, Commidus decides he will destroy the three things that matter most to Maximus - his wife, his son and his harvests. Maximus, who is weak from Commidus' plans and distraught to find the bodies of his wife and son, is found and sold in slavery. Maximus soon finds himself fighting in stadiums to hundreds, owing to his obvious strength and such a skill of fighting. He soon stands out as a great fighter, and beats increasingly hard opponents until he is considered the best gladiator in all of Rome. ...read more.

Middle

The colours are the gloomy greys, blues and blacks and the soldiers fight in mud. War is successfully shown realistically. Maximus is immediately established as the hero in 'Gladiator.' We first see a man walking through a field, and can assume this is him. This is not actually what he is doing, but what he thinking. The fact that we immediately are shown his thoughts show instantly that he is a main character and the way the film focuses on him from early on suggests the story is mainly about him. We are also told quite a lot about Russell Crowe's character, from clues such as his physical appearance, the camera angles, narrative viewpoint, what he says and what others say about him. Maximus wear a fur coat and although it may be from the cold, it shows his rank and authority. He also wears metal armour and so we immediately see that he is a soldier because of this. His beard shows a certain level of seniority and maturity. His facial expression is strong and determined. We see what Maximus is like as a person soon into the film. He is obviously very respected - he is saluted often and we see that his soldiers are not his inferiors but his friends - he is not standoffish with them at all. He also stands on the middle of the soldiers, with men all around him, all of whom salute and laugh at his jokes. ...read more.

Conclusion

Commidus, on the other hand, is less easy to determine whether he would want war. I think that from his cruel and obnoxious personality, he would want war. He would probably have wanted to fight to show his power and superiority, rather than for the good of his own country. In the opening scenes of the film, he 'conveniently' enters the battle after it is finished and so he would probably not risk his life for fighting but have someone else do so for him. From what is suggested about Emperor Marcus Aurelius, I think that he had similar attitudes to war as Maximus, but possibly he is keener that Rome shows off its strength. We do know that he does agree with Maximus's attitudes to war, as he asks him to be Emperor in his place before his own son, Commidus. So, in conclusion, the opening scenes of war are presented quite accurately and the scenes are shown without much glamorisation. A fine example of this is the colours used on film - it's mostly colours such as greys and these show the atmosphere and mood of the battle. There are also not many 'gory' shots that are shown, this leaves the images more to the mind and also is very effective. In addition, the battle itself is brutal more so than over the top or planned fighting. These are just some of the factors that make 'Gladiator' presented so realistically in its opening scenes of war. ...read more.

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