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Film Studies: Historical Relevance of the ‘Gladiator’ Essay


The gladiator (2000) is a movie whose setting occurs in the 180 A.D. It instigated with General Maximus leading the fight with the Germans where they emerged victorious. The ruler of the empire named Marcus Aurelius who was ailing in turn offered him the position of a Caesar. The patriarch was well aware of Maximus kind and fair character as well as the ability to restore authority in the Senate.

In fact, Maximus was known for eradicating corruption in the kingdom. Conversely, Commodus his son possessed qualities exactly opposite to those of Maximus and would easily lead the empire astray. Aurelius intended to hand over the empire to Maximus against the traditions as the throne was perceived to be hereditary.

Commodus got wind of this and despite the utter rage kills of his father, he ordered for the execution of Maximus. However, Maximus was a trained fighter and as a result managed to fight off his intended assassins but arrived home too late to save his family. He is later secured as a slave and compelled to fight as a gladiator where he eventually became a force to reckon with. Using his political advantage, he arranged for Commodus overthrowing in a fight which served as the movie climax.

Although gladiator is a wonderful entertainment source of action for movie lovers, it is meant to shed light on the Roman Empire as it existed in 180 A.D. In this bold attempt it has accurately conveyed some aspects while others have been exaggerated. For instance, much of the general perceptions made such as the existence of gladiators and a hereditary empire were actually true.

However, the Roman Empire began as a monarchy before transforming into a republic. As portrayed in the movie, Emperor Marcus Aurelius was indeed the patriarch in 180 A.D and had a son named Commodus. There was no particular General known as Maximus although the possibility of the existence of such a character cannot be totally disputed. The movie asserts that Commodus killed his father but in reality the emperor materialized to have died of plague that befell the empire during that time.

While the emperor was not a friend of the Germans, there was no such great battle as depicted by the opining scene of the movie. In fact, the battle for the German conquest had been forfeited almost two centuries before the date implied in the movie. Some of the equipment used in this battle like the Onager helped in bringing down large buildings and not necessarily in the open fields as depicted in the movie. Thus, they might have been incorporated to create the loud explosions characterized by modern day movies. This was intended to attract more clients and increase returns.

Though Commodus had ill traits as depicted in the movie, he did not secure the throne forcefully from his father. As a matter of fact, Aurelius had named him Caesar when he was a small boy and proceeded to name him heir of the Roman throne while still a teenager. Commodus occasionally fought in the gladiators’ arena but was never slain in it. It is believed that he was strangled by Narcissus while bathing.

Even though Senator Gracchus purported the existence of a senate that represented the people in the Roman History, no such organization existed. What existed was a group of hereditary aristocrats who were mere puppets of the top administration. The gladiator is however accurate in depicting Aurelius reign as the only time when the Roman Empire was headed for success.

The movie was definitely appealing to the modern generations as it has five awards. Nevertheless, various alterations made changed the reason for the entire movie. Indeed, it speaks volumes about us than it does about the Romans.

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IvyPanda. (2020, April 29). Film Studies: Historical Relevance of the ‘Gladiator’. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/film-studies-historical-relevance-of-the-gladiator/

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"Film Studies: Historical Relevance of the ‘Gladiator’." IvyPanda, 29 Apr. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/film-studies-historical-relevance-of-the-gladiator/.

1. IvyPanda. "Film Studies: Historical Relevance of the ‘Gladiator’." April 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/film-studies-historical-relevance-of-the-gladiator/.


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IvyPanda. "Film Studies: Historical Relevance of the ‘Gladiator’." April 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/film-studies-historical-relevance-of-the-gladiator/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Film Studies: Historical Relevance of the ‘Gladiator’." April 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/film-studies-historical-relevance-of-the-gladiator/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Film Studies: Historical Relevance of the ‘Gladiator’'. 29 April.

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