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Post MOVIE REVIEW: GLADIATOR - May 9th, 2006

Effective Communication

Movie Review
on the movie

Prepared By:-
Pramod B. Chordia

The Cast
Russell Crowe - Maximus Decimus Meridius
Joaquin Phoenix - Commodus
Richard Harris - Marcus Aurelius
Connie Nielsen - Lucilla
Oliver Reed - Proximo
Djimoun Hansou - Gladiator Juba

At the height of its power, the Roman Empire was vast, stretching from the deserts of Africa to the borders of northern England. Over one quarter of the world's population lived and died under the rule of the Caesars. In the winter of 180 A.D. Emperor Marcus Aurelius' twelve-year campaign against the barba rian tribes in Germania was drawing to an end. One final stronghold stands in the way of Roman victory and the promise of peace throughout the empire.

The story
The story begins at Germania. Maximus leads the legions to victory on the battlefield. He led with courageous display of tactical brilliance, overcomes the Germanic hordes with numbers and fury, chopping off heads and snarling in barely contained rage. After the war was over, Maximus dreams of returning home to his wife and son. However, the dying Emperor Marcus Aurelius has a duty for the general. After witnessing his General finally unite the full Roman Empire, Emperor Marcus Aurelius makes the not-so-difficult choice of naming Maximus his successor instead of his scheming and morally bereft son, Commodus.

Jealous of Maximus, power-hungry Commodus kills his father and orders the death of Maximus. Barely escaping death, Maximus is forced into slavery and trained as a gladiator in the arena under the watchful eyes of Proximo. Maximus was bought by Proximo and made a Gladiator. Now he has come to Rome, intent on avenging the murder of his wife and son by killing the new emperor Commodus.

"Gladiator" is a movie of such astounding scope and sweep and such masterful story-telling that it makes its storyline seem classic rather than clichéd. Breathtakingly sumptuous visuals credibly re-create the world of Rome in 180 AD, a world of unimaginable reach and power. The aging Caesar (Richard Harris) watches as Maximus (Russell Crowe), his most trusted general, fights the barbarians in Germania. His motto is "strength and honor." He tells his men, "At my signal, unleash hell!" and leads them through a terrible battle to triumph. And the battle is terrible, an ancient version of the opening of "Saving Private Ryan," with burning, bleeding, stabbing, smacking, and just plain carnage wherever you look.
Caesar’s son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) wants to succeed his father. But his father says no. Commodus does not have the virtues that Caesar wants: wisdom, justice, fortitude, and temperance. Commodus says that he has other virtues: ambition, resourcefulness, courage, and devotion. Caesar tells Maximus he wants him to lead the people back to democracy. But before he can send that message back to the senate, he is killed by Commodus, showing his ambition and resourcefulness, if not his courage and devotion. Commodus orders that Maximus and his family be killed.
Maximus escapes, is captured, and sold into slavery. He becomes a gladiator. He knows that if he wants to confront Commodus, he has to become successful enough to be called to Rome. Meanwhile, Commodus is using festivals and spectacles to distract the populace while he disables the Senate. The only one he trusts is his sister, Lucilla (Connie Nielsen), who pretends to support him to protect her young son.
Director Ridley Scott ("Thelma and Louise," "Blade Runner") stages the fight scenes brilliantly, each more inventive and gripping than the last. He must identify with Proximo (Oliver Reed), the owner of the gladiators, who tells Maximus that it is not the opponent he must conquer, but the crowd. He advises Maximus to kill his opponents in a more elaborate and interesting way. Proximo is always looking for something new to engage the attention of the audience, and the results are something like a deranged computer game, with new peril coming literally from all sides.
Fellow gladiator Juba ("Amistad’s" Djimon Hounsou) explains the appeal of the fights when he says that fear and wonder are a powerful combination. Two thousand years later, little has changed. We may not pay to see people kill each other any more, but we pay to see them pretend to do so (in this movie, for example, which elicited applause and hoarse cheers from the audience in its bloodiest moments), and we pay to see them come pretty close in sports like boxing, hockey, wrestling, and football.
Parents should know that this is a very, very violent movie. A woman and child are brutally tortured and killed (mostly off-screen). People are sliced up, burned, and crucified. There are references to rape and incest.
Families who see the movie will want to talk about why it is that people are drawn to watch other people battle and what the appeal is of movies like this and full contact sports. Notice that, like Odysseus in the land of the Cyclops, Maximus will not use his name until he has done something he can be proud of. Why didn’t Commodus just have him killed? Why did Commodus (a little like the WWF’s Vince McMahon) decide to participate in the combat? What does it mean to "smile back" at death? Compare the lists of virtues claimed by Caesar and Commodus. Which are the most important? One of the movie’s great challenges is making its world seem very different to us without making it impossible to identify with the characters. The story is told without any sense of irony or distance. Some older kids will have some good thoughts on how that is accomplished. Families who enjoy this movie may want to see some of the other classics set in this era, like "Ben Hur" and "Spartacus."


When we talk of the movie, Gladiator, the first thought that comes to anyone’s mind would be Leadership. Marcus Aurelius, the Emperor or the Roman Empire was proved to be a good leader. He had a clear vision of whatever he wanted to achieve. For example, in this movie, he had a vision to make the Roman Empire Republic. He wants Rome to be freed from politics. So to achieve that goal, he had the right man (Maximus) in his mind.

Marcus Aurelius was a good leader because he had all the general attributes that differentiated him from the rest.

 Capacity: He was capable to solve any problems arose in the Empire, made effective decisions and judgments, and also he was hard-working. He was alert, intelligent and was sound in making judgments. For example, in this movie, Caesar Marcus Aurelius wanted Rome to be politically free and Republic. So he made up his decision of making Maximus as his next successor as he was the only man suitable for the job among him and Commodus.

 Achievement: He ruled Rome for 25 years and has achieved a lot during this period. He gained experience and expertise in this time.

 Responsibility: Marcus Aurelius was a responsible Caesar. He always initiated, may it be a battle or any other thing. He was aggressive too. He was self-confident in whatever he did. He created his own world by conquering and splitting blood of many people.

 Participation: Marcus Aurelius, as mentioned earlier, was a capable and a responsible leader. This was due to his involvement in any situation or condition. He always participated in every single thing.

 Situational Factors: The Caesar always had a clear vision of the end result to be achieved. Any goals in his mind were very crystal clear. He was very smart and intelligent, alert and his followers always like him, respected him, and obeyed him.

Talking of leaders, Maximus was also proven to be an effective leader. He had all the situational variables present in high proportion and he had more control as a leader.

 Leader-member relations: Maximus was a respected man and was liked by everyone. Nobody had any problems with him. In a sequence at the start of the movie where, as Maximus passes through the battalion of soldiers, they rise and respectfully call him ‘General’. People had faith and trust in him. The satisfaction with the work was high among the group. The individual values did not collide with the group values. Under Maximus’ leadership, there was a good amount of mutual trust between him and his fellowmen.

 Task Structure: Maximus specified the tasks (jobs) very well and effectively to his men. The followers knew exactly what to do and what not to do. When they were preparing for the battle, he addressed his fellowmen. And also in the later part of the movie, when the gladiators were in the Colosseum for the first time, Maximus asked each and every gladiator to be united. The task was specified to the men and most of them followed it and survived, others who did not respect him and did not follow his decision were killed by the rival Gladiators.

 Position Power: Maximus was entrusted with high position power. He had the legitimate authority. He could make his own decisions without asking any top level authority. In the Colosseum, the arena, where the Gladiators met to fight, he made his own decisions without even asking Proximo (his leader).

These were not the only leaders in this movie. There were two more, Commodus and Proximo. As far as Proximo was concerned, he was a good leader with his own unique skills. He did manage his men to be good Gladiators. He made them strong and taught them how to tackle opposition.

On the other hand, Commodus was an ineffective leader. He was disliked by his fellowmen; they did not have trust and faith in him. He was not participative and did not take responsibility to solve the problems of the people in his Kingdom. He was a lazy emperor and was not capable to be the Caesar.

Power and Politics

Power is a natural process in any group. The use of power in a group is called Politics. Power is divided into two groups viz. Formal Power and Personal Power. Formal Power is further divided into three parts and Personal Power is divided into two parts.

Formal Power

Coercive Power:
The coercive power base is dependent on fear. Marcus Aurelius feared that if Commodus becomes the new Caesar, the Roman Empire won’t be free from politics and Republic. So he decided to make Maximus Decimus Meridius as his successor. When Commodus knew about this he killed his father and became the ultimate successor. He feared Maximus, as he believed that the Caesar did not die a natural death rather he was killed. So he gave orders of his and his family’s death.

Reward/Punish Power:
Reward power is the power an individual to give rewards or even punishments. Marcus Aurelius possessed this power and used it effectively. For instance, after the battle against the barbarians at Germania got over, he praised Maximus and later even asked him to do the duty for Rome (to be the new Emperor of Rome).

Legitimate Power:
This power is influenced by one’s structural position. The higher the position, the more is the amount of power he possesses. Marcus and Commodus both possessed the legitimate power as he was at the highest authority. Maximus had less legitimate power because he was a General in his battalion.

Informal Power

Expert Power:
Marcus possessed this type of power so did Maximus. Marcus was an experienced Emperor with skills, knowledge and expertise. Maximus also possessed some skills, knowledge and expertise but not the same as the Emperor.

Referent Power:
One has referent power when he is well respected, liked and admired by others. Marcus as an Emperor was very successful and he possessed all the types of Power, while Maximus also had referent power. He was respected, liked and admired by others. As in one instance, Lucius, son of Lucilla was so admired by Maximus that when Commodus asked him “Wouldn't you prefer to be a brave Roman warrior like Julius Caesar?” he replied “I am Maximus, the savior of Rome”.


McClelland’s Theory of Needs

McClelland’s Theory of Needs focuses on the three needs. They are –

Need for Achievement
Marcus wants the battle to be won so he delegates the authority to Maximus, who is a respected General among the fighters. People had trust in him and faith in him. All this was done by the Emperor to win the battle of Germania. In other case, Proximo trains the slaves he bought from a slave trader. He makes them strong Gladiators from mere slaves. Slaves include Maximus and Juba as well. Proximo salutes the Gladiators as he says that they are going to die. He asks them to do something extraordinary and win the crowd before they die.

Need for Power:
Maximus addressed the soldiers in the forest before the start of the Germania war. He did it very effectively and so the soldiers were highly motivated. In other scene, when Commodus came to know about his father’s wishes of making Maximus as the new successor, he was jealous. He wanted to be the Emperor after his father, but Maximus is a barrier for him. To anyhow come into power, he killed his father before he could announce the succession. The need for power motivated him to kill his father.

Need for Affiliation:
Maximus, after the death of his wife and son, became lonely and lifeless. Juba his colleague, felt that Maximus needs mental and moral support. So he was affiliated with him.


All the theories applied to this movie are applicable to the movie. The trait behavior theory talks about the personality; social, physical, or intellectual attributes. Even the situation leadership theory is applicable as far as the movie, Gladiator is concerned.

There is a lot of Power and Politics in the movie from the start top the end of the movie. Even the McClelland’s theory of needs is applicable to the movie.

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Re: MOVIE REVIEW: GLADIATOR - July 13th, 2015

Gladiator released in 2000 is an epic and swashbuckling drama film directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Ralf Mller, Oliver Reed (in his final film role), Djimon Hounsou, Derek Jacobi, John Shrapnel, and Richard Harris. Crowe, loyal Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius, who is betrayed when Commodus, the ambitious son of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, murders his father and seizes the throne. Reduced to slavery, Maximus rises through the ranks of the gladiatorial arena to avenge the murders of his family and his emperor.

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