FILM TALK Episode #7: Gladiator (2000) Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris, directed by Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott’s epic 2000 historical drama, Gladiator is set in AD 180 and tells the story of Hispano-Roman General Maximus Decimus Meridius. Emperor Marcus Aurelius tells Maximus that his own son, Commodus, is unfit to rule, and that he wishes Maximus to succeed him. Commodus, murders his father, seizes the throne and attempts kills Maximus’ family. Reduced to slavery, Maximus rises through the gladiatorial ranks to avenge his family and the emperor. Gladiator stars Russell Crowe, Connie Nielsen, Joaquin Phoenix, Richard Harris and Oliver Reed. Championed by Mark Priest.

Written by David Franzoni, John Logan, and William Nicholson, Gladiator is inspired by Daniel P. Mannix’s 1958 novel Those About to Die. Principal photography began in January 1999, before the script was completed, and wrapped up in May of that year, with the scenes of Ancient Rome shot over a period of nineteen weeks in Fort Ricasoli, Malta. British post-production company The Mil created the film’s astonishing CGI effects.

Tragically, acclaimed actor and notorious hell-raiser, Oliver Reed died from a heart attack during production. Oliver was making a welcome return to major feature film production and makes a stunning contribution to the film, with an electrifying performance. Oliver played Proximo, a former gladiator, who was granted his freedom by Emperor Marcus Aurelius, played by fellow former hell-raiser, Richard Harris. Production house The Mill also created digital body double effects to enable the remainder of Oliver’s scenes to be completed.

FILM TALK is all about us reviewing and appreciating the greatest films ever made. Each week we publish a new video reviewing and discussing a different classic film that is destined for our list of the 100 greatest films in cinema history, at least the greatest films in our opinion.

We take an in-depth look at our chosen film, providing a detailed critical review, while also delving into the film’s background, exploring how it was made and the filmmakers behind it, with a quick dip into fascinating trivia to help provide a rich appreciation of our film that week.