man who gained fame for his selfless devotion to the Republic in a time of crisis. Called away from a peaceful retirement on his farm in 458 B.C., Cincinnatus was asked by the Romans to become their dictator so he could lead their army into victory against the neighboring Aequians and Volscians. Because he was a patriot, Cincinnatus picked up his sword, whipped his army into shape, and won the battle. When he returned to Rome, he immediately resigned the title and power the people had given him and quickly returned to his farm.
It is hard to believe that 150 minutes of epic spectacle has been shortened into a few hundred words or less. But this was the story ű basically simple and straightforward: a tale of unjust, perverse evil (Commodus) and the determined but just vengeance (Maximus) that comes to meet it.
What basically remains of "Gladiator" is what the movie is really all about: spectacle, battle, blood and gore, and possibly the lowest form of human entertainment, the killing of other humans. A job first thought fit only for prisoners of war, slaves, and criminals, the sport of gladiators became, in time, an honored profession that, at the height of the Roman Empire, was more than half-filled with distinguished male volunteers. Women gladiators were officially banned in a.d. 200. This last fact can be compared with our own current popularization of female boxers.
Following the ingenious editing of the "hand over wheat" opening (an important "Gladiator" theme that is central to Maximus' concept of farm and family as "heaven" and was taken from a "heaven" sequence never seen in the movie), the audience is immediately treated to the hellish, burning "spectacle" of ancient armed battle that seems so important to the Hollywood epic (e.g., "Birth of a Nation," "The Crusades," "Braveheart," "El Cid," "Spartacus," just to name a few). "At my signal," Maximus commands his men, "unleash hell!" But it was at the signal of director Ridley Scott that professional