For this assignment, I have watched the movie Gladiator and here are the historical themes I have found relevant:
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The primary theme identified in the movie is slavery. The film portrays slaves who become gladiators (Maximus, Hagen, and others) and generals who become slaves. Almost every character serves someone or something – evil siblings or politicians (Ebert, 2020). For instance, Lucilla is enslaved to the whims of her brother even though she is nominally free. It can be concluded that despite all the freedoms people had, they were still slaves to someone’s follies.
Gladiator also shows the acute issue of corruption – the audience may observe that Rome is no longer ideal, and even Marcus Aurelius cannot make positive changes. In one of the scenes, the ruler dreams about restoring the capital; however, the political machinations of Commodus, including the devastation of the Senate, impede Aurelius’ plans. In addition, Commodus being corrupt as a ruler, becomes morally corrupt, which is proved by a scene where he murders his father.
Speaking about Commodus, a prince of Rome, it should be stated that he was Aurelius’ son and was later crowned as the Emperor. One of the vivid scenes of Gladiator, which still showed Commodus as a ruler, turned out to be the first experience at a senate hearing (Ebert, 2020). He looked bored, listening to the problems of his people, playing with a sword, and then threatening one of the most influential people’s deputies. He craved the public’s love and attention and desired to lead his policy.
The history of any nation was marked by several battles. During the battle scenes in Germany, one may observe that people view war as absolute hell. Moreover, the opening scene depicts the headless horseman, which is a symbol of death and bloodshed. Historically speaking, the Romans were engaged in several wars with the Germanic tribes, mainly to conquer the land.
Ultimately, the film represents the people’s attitude to electing the ruler. Maximus deserves the love of the people and wins many battles in the arena, and people want him to live. Now, if the king wants to kill him, he will go against the people’s will. The film’s climax is Maximus’ battle with the king in the arena, a pivotal moment of their conflict. The tsar challenges him to a fight, but before the battle, he secretly wounds him to increase his chances, but in the end, the king loses.
Ebert, R. (2000). Gladiator. RogerEbert.com. Web.
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