Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000)

On the weekend I finally watched Gladiator again and on BluRay. I’m still sometimes reluctant to buy BluRays but in this case it was really worth it. It was almost another movie. The sound was great, the colors intense. Quite amazing.

Is Gladiator a war movie? I don’t think so, I don’t think King Arthur or Last of the Mohicans are war movies, but they are certainly war themed. If I did consider them to be real war movies… My Top 10 would look slightly different. Although I don’t like Gladiator as much as King Arthur, I still like it a lot.

I have a feeling however that this is a movie that is so widely known that reviewing it in detail makes no sense.

Just let me tell you that it starts with an intense battle in Germania. The Roman Empire is hungry for land and advancing greedily and brutally. After the battle is won the old emperor has a heart to heart with his General Maximus (Russell Crowe). He doesn’t want his own son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) to become emperor after his death, he wants to re-establish the Senate, give Rome back to the people. If Maximus was in charge it could be done.

Things don’t quite turn out that way. Commodus speeds up his father’s passing and wants Maximus killed. Maximus wouldn’t be the hero he already is, if he couldn’t overcome the men in charge of killing him. He escapes and returns to Italy to find his family slaughtered. Badly wounded he faints, is picked up by a slave merchant and sold to become a gladiator.

That’s the beginning. Fight upon fight follows, until the gladiators  finally arrive at the place of their destination, the Colosseum in Rome. The new motto of the new emperorCommodus  is “Bread and Games” and the best of the best of the Gladiators have to fight in the huge arena.

What happens when Commodus finds out Maximus isn’t dead… is for you to find out. If you haven’t done so already, watch it.

Gladiator is the tale of a hero, a man larger-than life. It’s beautifully filmed with a stunning score by Lisa Gerrard and Hans Zimmer.

It’s also a tale of friendship, greed, ambition, loyalty and courage. I’m not sure if this movie would be so great without Russell Crowe but I know that he was one hell of a great choice. And so are the other actors, among them Joaquin PhoenixConnie Nielsen, Oliver Reed and Djimon Hounsu.  The same that can be said about the actors can be said about the score. Not one of those large scale Hollywood prodcutions would work as well as they do without the music.

In terms of emotions and entertainment, this is one of the  most perfect movies for me.

Movies on the Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815): A List

I watched the Hornblower series last year and enjoyed it very much. I re-watched Master & Commander and thought once again that it is really a good movie. Finally I discovered the Sharpe series with Sean Bean and I like it a great deal as well (at least those I have seen so far). Considering that they are all based on the Napoleonic Wars, I thought it might be high time to see what else there is. I found quite a few movies, some I have seen a long time ago, like Abel Gance’s Napoléon, and others that I still would like to watch. I also included movies on the man himself as I figured there will not be many biopics on Napoléon leaving out the wars. When I was a child I went through a bit of a Napoléon obsession and remember contemplating his wax figure at the Musée Grévin in Paris with awe. I should have been awed that even as a ten-year old child I wasn’t that much smaller. There are quite a lot of German and French productions of the topic. I did include them although not all of them have been subtitled.

The movies that I would like to watch soon are Waterloo with Rod Steiger, the mini-series Napoléon and Ridley Scott’s The Duellists.

As ususal any comments, additions or ratings are highly welcome. The Duellists is a movie I wouldn’t have known of, if it hadn’t been for Guy Savage‘s recommendation in a comment.

Robin Hood (2010) or This is the Robin Hood we were waiting for

I don’t care if Robin Hood is really a war movie. There is a lot of warfare and talk of war but the purists would probably deny it the access to the war movie realm. I can’t. I am biased. I am partial to Russell Crowe – my favourite actor – I am partial to Ridley Scott - watch all of his movies, they are worth it – I am partial to Cate Blanchett – one of my favourite actresses. In short Robin Hood  is well done, has a great cast and is very entertaining. It doesn’t make the world a better place or will revolutionize cinema history but  it is well woth watching.

I waited for this to come out on BluRay before I watched it and was looking forward to it like a child (Is it available yet? Is it available yet?). I was not disappointed. I truly enjoyed every minute of it.

What we get to see is the pre-history of Robin Hood, the years before he becomes an outcast (will there be a sequel?). At the beginning he is in the middle of a big battle in which  King Lionheart is  fighting against the French. Robin Longstride  is not a noble man and since he is too outspoken he endangers himself and those who follow him. He is sentenced and if King Richard hadn´t died, he would have been bad off. But Richard Lionheart is killed and Robin takes advantage of the chaos that follows the king’s death and escapes with his buddies to the sea.

Sir Robert Loxley who is to bring the crown back to England and hand it over to the new king is murdered on his way home. At that very moment Robin and his men come along and the dying man asks him to return his sword to his father Sir Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow). Robin decides to pretend to be Sir Robert Loxley and first brings the crown to the new king and then travels on to the estate of the Loxley´s where he meets Marion, Roberts widow. Of course there is a love story but it is not corny. The country is in bad shape. People suffer. They are famished and impoverished and exploited by their king. The noblemen from the North want to overthrow the new king but there is a threat coming from the South. One of the king´s people is a traitor and conspires with France. It will take combined efforts to save Britain from invasion.

I won’t tell you if this is achieved and how Robin Hood got his name, nor will I tell you why he became an outcast. You got to find out for yourself.

Some historical facts about Robin Hood can be found on the  BBC British history page.