Thursday, January 15, 2009

Operation Screenshot (Films of the 2000s): Ridley Scott's Gladiator (2000)

With just a couple of exceptions this series so far has mostly just consisted of smaller American and foreign films. I wouldn't even think about compiling a list like this though without including some major Hollywood films. This particular post allows me to salute a terrific film, that just happens to be a big budget Hollywood blockbuster, made my one of my favorite directors (Ridley Scott) and starring one of my favorite actors (Russell Crowe). I'd like to dedicate it to Oliver Reed, who made his final film appearance here, and the film's biggest fan, my mom.

Gladiator 1

Gladiator 2

Gladiator 3

Gladiator 4

Gladiator 5

Gladiator 6

Gladiator 7

Gladiator 8

Gladiator 9

Gladiator 10


James Hansen said...

Hmm...Gladiator, huh? I'll call this choice...interesting. :)

Ed Howard said...

Wow, really? And here I thought our tastes were scarily compatible... Now I'm not too sure what to think.

Bold choice, for sure.

Jeremy Richey said...

Hey James,
I'm always trying to mix it up here. If 'interesting' is the best I can do then I will take it.

Don't worry Ed, our tastes are still 'scarily compatible' but there are always going to be differences. We should just roll with them...

Thanks for the comments!

Jeremy Richey said...

By the way, I really dig your Leaud avatar....

J.D. said...

Ballsy choice there, Jeremy. I like this film, too. I haven't watched it in years so maybe a screening is due. Altho, I'm still bitter that Crowe an Oscar for this and not THE INSIDER, which is a much stronger performance in a better film, but I digress. heh.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks JD,
I totally agree that Crowe should have won for The of the great performances and films I have ever seen. Thanks again.

Jan said...

Like a lot of extremely successful movies, Gladiator has suffered from a backlash. Unfortunately it has also become equally fashionable to discount the talent of Russell Crowe. I suspect some people just don't care for him personally and they have let that cloud their view of him as an actor. I would challenge James and Ed to give this film another "unbiased look". The direction,screenplay, and soundtrack are outstanding. The overall look of the movie is breathtaking. And the acting is first class. In addition to Russell Crowe's, the performance of Joaquin Phoenix is a revelation. Good choice Jeremy and thanks for acknowledging your mom.

James Hansen said...

Thanks Jeremy. It's a still from "Out 1" (of course). Figured its about time I get a decent avatar.

I think Gladiator winning Best Pic (undeservedly if you ask me/most people, I think) negates the fact that I thought it was ok. Awards can do that. I do like Crowe, but this never did it for me. Still, I'm glad to see it your list. That's what tastes are for!

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Jan,
I totally agree. To me this film is a success in everything in attempts to do.
Also, As I was capturing these screen shots I also realized that this is very much a 'Ridley Scott film' and I was struck by how many of the shots here recall his classic films like Blade Runner and Alien.
Plus, Russell Crowe is peerless among today's actors. Absolutely peerless.
Thanks again for the support on this choice.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks James,
I thought that was from Out 1.

Anyway, I'm glad we can all have differences and still respect each other's individual tastes and so fourth. Things would get mighty boring if we all agreed on everything.

Samuel Wilson said...

Jeremy, I must ask: What do you think of Anthony Mann's FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE from 1964? I think it is a severely flawed film, nowhere near as good as EL CID, but as far as the subject matter goes I liked it better than GLADIATOR. This is hard to explain. I'll readily concede that Russell Crowe's a better actor than Stephen Boyd, but there was something mundane about Maximus's motivations that weighed the Scott film down for me. As for emperors, it's no contest: Christopher Plummer as Commodus blasts Mr. Phoenix off the screen. You've also got Oliver Reed on your side, but I'll go with Sophia Loren, Alec Guiness, Anthony Quayle et al. On the other hand, I concede that James Mason goes more than a little over the top. This comparison is no slam dunk either way, but the Mann film has always been an obstacle to my appreciation of Scott's effort.

Nigel M said...

I ve put grease as my all time favourite film. I don't feel so guilty now.

I am not sure it is that out there to pick a hollywood film and it is a personal thing for you but I found Gladiator a CGI heavy bore (though not to the extent of Titanic). My wife likes it though so it still gets played a bit here.

In order not to be too uincharitable I thought Crowe himself was excellent- I think in years to come when his career is appraised in retrosepct it will be common to argue that he is a damn fine actor. I just can't handle movies that look like computer games, sorry.

Keith said...

Hey Jeremy. Great choice. I love this film. It's a wonderful film all around. I love the images you posted. I own this movie and soundtrack.

Lauren said...

aside from a it being a CGI heavy, i'm curious to know why so many dislike movie? IMHO this is one example of what happens when hollywood gets the formula right.

Kotto said...

JD/jeremy: i'm with you. i put off seeing gladiator at the cinema because i was so pissed crowe got the oscar for this and not the insider. hard to believe he was bested by kevin spacey for playing...kevin spacey. i'm still sore about this one.

in hindsight, i wished i'd went to see gladiator at the cinema. as for as h-wood movies go, this is a pretty good one. IMO richard harris stole the show while he was in it.

Jeremy Richey said...

Hey Samuel,
I haven't seen that film but I will take your advice and give it a look. Honestly this isn't a genre that I am that passionate about. The things that sells me about this film are the performances, Scott's direction and how well it manages to tell the story that it wants to tell (in exactly the way it wants to tell it).

Thanks Nigel,
While we disagree on the film, it is great to hear more positive comments on Crowe.

Thanks Keith,
Really great to hear some absolute love for the film. Isn't that score remarkable?

Thanks Lauren,
I would like to know as well. I suspect that its winning best picture has cast a shadow of sorts over it, which is a shame as I don't think it was a bad choice among that year's nominees (although I would have loved to have seen Crouching Tiger snag it as well).

Thanks Kotto,
If you do ever get a chance to see this at a theater don't miss it as it really was made for the big screen.
Also, great to hear more praise for The Insider. It's one of the powerhouse films from the 90's in my view.

PIPER said...

My dislike of this movie has nothing to do with its success. And I speak specifically of its box office.

My dislike of this movie has everything to do with its play in the Oscars. This was an entertaining movie and nothing more.

Jeremy, if you choose to make this one of your favorite films of the past decade, that's your opinion and your choice and I respect it. But I think historically, it doesn't belong there. Oscar or not.

Kotto said...

hi piper...i'm still curious to know precisely WHY so many dislike gladiator? care to elaborate? anyone? in my opinion it's a perfectly executed throwback to classic hollywood epics ala ben hur

jeremy: after seeing heat and then the insider i was really thought mann was the best director in hollywood. i love thief, really like manhunter...but on the flipside, ali didn't do much for me and i thought collateral was a garbage pulp screenplay, made interesting by mann's visual style. it also reeked of mann's attempt to cash in on a commercial success to get back what he lost on ali. never did figure out why he'd shoot a movie completely set in the PM shot on video either. the muddy gray color palate didn't really work for me.

PIPER said...


I'll give it a shot. Of course I don't speak for everyone.

As a film, I think it's entertaining. And the Epic feel is there. But otherwise, there is nothing here of substance. I think I've seen it a few times and I remember nothing other than the fight scenes and the hand across the wheat, which by the way Jeremy is a wonderful screencap, and is probably the most intimate part of this movie.

To me where this film fails is that with big, you need small. I don't fault this on its grandness, but its lacking in intimacy. There are no stand out performances. No scenes of note involving a single character. Crowe does a good job, not a great one. And I think Phoenix looks a bit confused.

But probably as more of an answer, and I wrote a piece about this a while ago, I am not a fan of the new Ridley Scott. Something happened to him when he did G.I. Jane. He lost his signature during and after that movie. Blade Runner is wonderful as is Alien. And although Legend and Black Rain are messes, I still like them because they feel different. But with Gladiator and Black Hawk Down and Hannibal and even more recently American Gangster, Scott became just like everyone else. I can't see a movie of his and know that it's a Ridley Scott movie. I would make the same argument with David Cronenberg.

And while Tony Scott certainly has had some failures in his time, he hasn't lost his style. It is always there, love it or hate it.

In short, I miss the old Ridley.

Lauren said...

piper, i'm right there with you on your assessment of ridley. i wrote a little rant about him in my review of body of lies.

but i have to say, i really felt the little things in gladiator. most notably the honor thy father/son rel'ship he had with marcus aurelius and his undying devotion to his wife and son (beautifully tied to his hand touching the wheat)...and how his death reunites them in the afterlife.

even his rel'ship to honorable scoundrel proximo was heart felt and shared the qualities of his unique bond to aurelius.

even phoenix worked for me as the unhinged (and yes, confused) and wretched son.

overall i saw this as less a ridley film and more as a classic greek tragedy populated with so many complex characters suffering from their own unique pathos. and even though crowe's work is overshadowed by his work on the insider, i think he brings the perfect blend of wounded dog / heroic protagonist to the table. very much like spartacus, which gladiator bears so much resemblance to.

for me, this is a great contemporary throwback/homage to hollywood golden age epics. by that line of thought i'd dare to draw a parallel to chinatown, but for me, chinatown is in a league of its own.

thanks for giving me some food for thought, piper.

Lauren said...

oops...the comment was attributed to my girlfriend lauren. that's what i get for using her laptop. - kotto