“I love to create worlds, and every facet of that world has to work within the rules of the story. You must smell the battleground and experience the beauty and light of the golden city. The film must take you into this world, so that you become a part of 175 A.D.”
Hollywood had shied away from epics since Cleopatra bombed in 1963. Yet Ridley Scott had the brazenness to spend nearly $100 million and command a cast and crew of more than 2,000 in the epic 2000 film Gladiator.
With its brilliant filmmaking, Gladiator has a solid story and delivers action, adventure, betrayal, romance and power. Thanks to DreamWorks Home Entertainment, home audiences can now watch the Special Edition, 3-DISC DVD of this exciting movie. The Special Features are simply amazing and will provide hours on home entertainment and enlightenment of the massive task of the making of this and the present it in a grand, that's loaded with more extras than would fit in a Roman coliseum.
The film is set in 180 A.D. The 12-year campaign by the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) against barbarian tribes in Germania is finally over. Russell Crowe plays Roman General Maximus, who has won a war and wants only to return to his homeland and family. Aurelius is dying and wants Maximus to assume his mantle and become the next Emperor. There are two problems with this request. Maximus is uncertain he wants the job, and Aurelius has an heir, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) who should rightfully inherent the throne. But Commodus is recognized as a weak and immature tyrant.
Russell Crowe - Joaquin Phoenix
Crowe had no second thoughts about the role. "DreamWorks is a company with a reputation that the money they spend ends up on the screen. Ridley Scott has a reputation that no matter how difficult the story is he finishes on time and on budget. He's a straight talker and so am I. If you're going to take a leap of faith, I rationalized these are the people to do it with."
Logistics of the shoot were amazing. More than 1,000 extras had to be trained to sword fight, filming arrangements were made in four countries with separate crews, and 2,500 weapons had to be designed as did costumes for all the extras. Production designer Arthur Max had to create authentic sets of Roman civilization in 180 A. D. in Malta, mainly the Colosseum which was reconstructed during the worst winter in 30 years and took 300 craftsmen to construct two-thirds of the Colosseum at full scale.
The film has many subplots that keep viewers enthralled. Connie Nielsen is the ex-lover of Maximus and the sister who must rein in Commodus' dangerous behavior. Oliver Reed, who passed away while on location for the film, plays Proximo, the gladiatorial entrepreneur who brings Maximus to the arena to fight for his life.
Connie Nielsen and Russell Crowe
In Scott's planning of the epic, Crowe's concern was that the story work. "Finding a narrative story that will emotionally connect people to the movie and make them feel something is vital," said Crowe who insisted on a level of collaboration with Scott. "That was the sort of arrangement that Ridley and I made in our very first conversation. We'd do it together."
They did and quite successfully. Audience members in test screenings of the film ranked it one of the highest DreamWorks has seen, partly because of the cast, partly because of the incredible art and sets, and mostly because of director Ridley Scott who sometimes used five camera crews and five monitors at a time. The Rome he delivers to the screen is like stepping back in time, the story fascinating, and the characters authentic.
Gladiator is a masterful production that won five Academy Awards – Best Actor (Russell Crowe); Best Costumes, Best Effects, Best Sound, and was nominated for seven more – Best Supporting Actor (Joaquin Phoenix) Best Director, Best Cinematographer, Best Art Direction, Best Editing, Best Music – Original Score, Best Writing.
β Feature Films – One of the theatrical version and one with 7 minutes of additional footage, includes introduction by Ridley Scott
β All-New Audio Commentary with Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe – This is really fun to listen to while you watch the film. Crowe and Scott are both very honest in their perceptions and memories. “It’s really a film about real people – on what looks like a real battlefield – not people dressed in theatrical costumes. I think that’s what grabs the people immediately,” says Scott on the commentary.
β Are You Entertained - Trivia Track
β Tales of the Scribes: Story Development – Director Ridley Scott, Writer David Franzoni, Executive producer Walter E, Parkes, Producer Douglas Wick, craftsmen, professors and the actors discuss the theme of Gladiator in terms of it’s history, the sport of the gladiators and the people of the time. In this segment Wick explains, “We knew that sword and sandal movies have been failing for about 40 years when we started working on Gladiator and we think they were just locked in the past.” Franzoni says, “Gladiator is really a contemporary story a 1000 years earlier. I modeled the Coliseum after Dodger Stadium and Maximus after a CIA agent.”
β The Tools of War: Weapons – Supervising Armorer Simon Atherton describes the vicious weapons that were designed to kill and how they made them
β Attire of the Realm: Costume Design – Oscar winners Janty Yates talks about what it was like to wardrobe 2,000 (on a light day) extras and the producers comment about her expertise and incredible designs.
β The Heat of the Battle: Production Journals: Scott talks about setting up the battles, the locations and working on “the stuff in between that makes it organic.” Producers talk about the scheduling and Crowe mentions his physical injuries. Some great segments of setting these scenes for the 1999 filming. Harris comments on the psyche of his character. Scott comments on how reporters always get the “real stories” of production wrong.
β Shadows and Dust: Resurrecting Proximo –Wick talks about Oliver Reed as Proximo, about his charisma and how he can still do bad things “like Jack Nicholson” but you still forgive him. Comments from Scott, Parkes, Yates and Reed (who passed away on the set) as well. Many of the stars and filmmakers comment on his passing and how it affected the project.
β The Glory of Rome: Visual Effects – Scott talks about using CGI. Visual Effects Supervisor John Nelson explains the need for the movie to breathe and be big. Crowe adds his comments about the special effects. Nelson says Scott wanted viewers to think they saw a documentary of Rome, which requires extensive research.
β Echoes in Eternity: Release and Impact – filmmakers discuss what they thought would be the response of viewers, the first test screening and the appeal to women versus men.
β Credits: A list of all the credits
β Production Design Featurette and Galleries – Production Designer Arthur Max talks about taking the conceptual drawing to actual sets, the scale of the work, his inspiration, working with Scott and keeping up with the changes. Max reveals that he spent 16 months in four different countries working on the film. Galleries includes drawings of interiors and exteriors in several different countries.
β Storyboard Demonstrations, Comparisons and Galleries – storyboard artist Sylvain Despretz talks about his art and the work on the film. A segment also includes video images.
β Abandoned Sequences and Deleted Scenes
β Trailers and TV Spots
β Enhanced for 16 x 9 televisions
β Dolby Digital 5.1
β French and Spanish
Photo Credist: Jaap Buitendijk JK, DreamWorks/Universal Home Entertainment