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Historical films represent a special kind of cinematography. Having known the history, we can only imagine all those prominent figures. We can draw in our imagination ancient buildings and streets, meanwhile trying to learn more about the culture and customs of people, who lived long before us. No doubt, there are many archeological objects and historical facts, which can help to get that special sense of the past times, but it is only a shadow of what the things were like at the time of civilizations’ prosperity. Released on May, 2000 Gladiator marked a revival of the once forgotten genre peplum. From this point of view this film may be considered as a new wave film, which gave birth to other outstanding historical films, which also received a positive critical acclaim.
The film was directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix and Oliver Reed in the main roles. This picture had a runaway success among critics and audience and was nominated on 119 awards and won 48 prizes, such as 5 Academy Awards, 2 Golden Globe awards and many others (2000 Academy Awards. Winners and History). The film plot is based on the real historical events, but some scenes were added by the screenwriters in order to make the picture more spectacular. Three-hour film duration is an additional feature of peplum as a genre. Moreover, Gladiator can be fully attributed to the drama on the basis of the storyline and the events. The viewer sympathizes the main character from the first seconds of the film, trying to feel his tragedies and admire his courage.
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I have chosen this film, because before watching it I was expecting a magnificent show and was pleasantly surprised, when it met all my expectations. The events began to develop from the very first seconds. The director made it completely clear to the audience that the stage setting is at the highest level. The events changed rapidly throughout the plot and had left an outstanding impression after the battle scenes. The course of events is built in such a way that dynamic scenes are replaced by so-called “quiet”. It is impossible to develop the story from a scratch, but the director and the cast had managed to do this.
The dramatic story of the great Rome commaner, who has lost his family and became the gladiator despite his will; a story of love and hate, betrayal and conspiracy, great battles, the story of courage and endurance, together creating a wonderful film. But not only the plot has made the picture outstanding. The laborious and lasting work of the director, producer, as well as decent acting, helped turned it into a masterpiece.
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First of all, I would like to mention the director’s work. Gladiator is a film, directed by Ridley Scott, whose other movies, such as “Robin Hood”, “The Kingdom of Heaven”, “Hannibal” and many others were also successful. Scott risked a lot, when he started shooting this film. As mentioned above, the peplum was not frequent on screens and it was difficult to predict the reaction of the audience. However the director tried his luck and, as we know, a fortune favored him. Almost in all his films we can see the battle between good and evil. In this picture the director showed both, the massive long battle shots, involving entire armies and close-up shots while local battles that take place mostly in the Coliseum. The set of these actions was made very realistic with seas and rivers of blood and other realities of the battle. The camera work together with the lightning added more realism to the battle scenes. Speaking about special effects, computer graphics and scenery, I want to highlight the image of the Coliseum. This legendary building it turned out very realistic, although its size was bigger in comparison with the original, which was evident on the close-up shots.
Gladiator appeared to be a great film because of exact and accurate solutions of the cameramen. Starting with the image of Russell Crowe, who was presented to the audience technically correct and ending with the common scenes of battles and fights. Some moments impress so greatly, that the viewer leans back from the screen. The scenes of fights, which resemble the real ones, are presented so that there appears a feeling of presence. It seems so as YOU were in the battle, as the sword was stored above YOUR head, as the hundreds of excited warriors were crying to YOU and as YOU had to fight to death. Now it became clear, why this work was noticed and won a BAFTA award./p>
The second component of the successful film is the acting cast. Russell Crowe is the actor, who played the main role of the Maximus. The one, who invited Russell for the role, seems to know a lot about the movie industry and is a real professional. Charisma, character, dramatic look made the actor perfect for such roles and Gladiator gave the clearest proof. He showed pain: the pain of loss, the physical pain, the pain of hopelessness and made the viewer believe his feelings. The other outstanding actor is Joaquin Phoenix. He managed to play the negative character in such a way, that even you start hating the villain, while watching the movie. This actor made the picture livelier, as his hero provokes the further continuation of wars and battles.
Finally, the scenes in the film make up a story from the beginning till the very end. Chaotic events make the plot unpredictable to the audience until the very end. It would be interesting to compare the story to the flight of boomerang. It begins his "flight" from his starting point, flies a circle and turns back to the viewer. The movie captures senses and attention and holds it until the final scenes. This puzzling of the audience can also refer the movie to the neo-noir ones or even the post-noir. I have already mentioned the first-class realistic scenes of struggles and battles. Besides all this, the film has a lot of stunning scenery, beautiful buildings, and spectacular crowd scenes.
All in all, Gladiator is more than just a historical film. This is a phenomenon, which everyone must see with his own eyes. A famous movie critique Shawn Leny said:
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Frequently gory, often talky, almost always watchable, never quite thrilling, Gladiator is a cold and big film that mixes solid acting with cheesy digital effects and sweaty action with stultifying chatter.
This masterpiece can be compared with other works of Ridley Scott, such as “Robin Hood”, both film plots are based on the historical events and have magnificent computer effects. But Gladiator can be considered as a work of art, with the elements of neo-noir, accounting on colours, scene direction and the variety of long and close-up battle shots and chaotic events.
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