Gladiator – 2001
Ridley Scott’s critically acclaimed historical epic began the 21st century with a film reminiscent of old Golden Age Hollywood epics like Ben Hur. Russell Crowe’s superbly plays General Maximus Decimus Meridius, seeking vengeance against the Joaquin Phoenix’s sinister and corrupt emperor who murdered his family and sent him into slavery.
From the outset, Ridley Scott made it quite clear that this “sword and sandals” movie would not feature any of the genre’s clichés of people lounging around eating grapes and drinking from goblets. He intended to create a more realistic vision of ancient Rome.
Originally, Maximus was supposed to fight Proximo in the Colosseum after being captured, probably as a penultimate blow from Commodus. Sadly Oliver Reed’s death forced a re-write and his remaining scenes had to be completed using CGI techniques.