Ridley Scott and the Structure of an Epic in the film Gladiator
The blurb for Gladiator claims that Scott has brought the epic into
the twenty first century, and in many ways he has, with a blend of the
technology of today, in the superb graphic realism and the way of life
in ancient Romethat lends itself so well to the epic status.
But is this a real epic with all the characteristics and parts that
will make it a remembered film for many years to come, or just a good
film that you see and forget? In this essay I plan to investigate
this, to show both my point of view, and the facts, that may, or may
not make this an all time classic. To do this I will be outlining in
detail certain parts of the film so as to analyse and compare with
classic epics and their structure. My first section will be on the
start battle in which Maximus leads his troops to victory.
My first point links it to the epic status as it starts right in the
middle of things. The film starts fast. Ridley Scott doesn't waste a
second. You are with Maximus getting the troops ready for battle. This
means that there is no introduction to Maximus and who he is, but the
way it starts almost makes you think you know him. He is the respected
leader as the film follows him around the battlefield. This links him
again to the epic hero needing no introduction.
There is a muse at the very start of the film with Maximus walking
through the fields; this is relating him to the basic essentials of
life. It makes a humble connection so that he is at one with the
earth. Both of these are connections to the epic hero that Ridley
Scott is trying to develop.
Ridley Scott uses wide shots of the battlefield to display the large
scale of events in the film in which Maximus is of great magnitude.
This is another classic feature of the epic showing Maximus is in a
hugely important situation. Ridley Scott blends these wide shots in
with close ups of peoples faces, that shows that Maximus is at a
personal level with the 'mob' and that these are people that are more
than willing to die for their country and General. There are also some
very good point of view shots, this is how Scott shows how much
Maximus' men respect him, as they move out of his way and stand to
Another leader makes an order for troops to move forward into a new
position, but Maximus simply says they are fine where they are; this
is simply accepted with no dispute or questioning. This again shows
the respect of the people towards Maximus and shows he is above most
people but on their side. These are major epic traits.
The music Ridley Scott uses throughout the film is excellent but
especially in this first scene. He blends and glides the action
together with a superb mixture of the tense heat of battle, the cool,
calm mind of Maximus and the...