It’s hard to believe that Gladiator is twenty years old. I can still recall the evening I saw in the theatre, and how the group of friends and I simply loved it. Ridley Scott proved what an amazing and technical director he was, and continues to be, Russell Crowe became a new hero to many of us, and all of us were gobsmacked by the fantastic score by Hans Zimmer (one that enabled two soundtracks to the film to be released).
Nominated for twelve Academy Awards, the film walked away with five of them, including, Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, and Best Effects. Al of them deserved, and all of them continue to stand to this day.
Paramount celebrates the anniversary with the new steelbook release of the 4k disc, along with copies of the previously issued blu-rays. The 4K includes both the Theatrical and Extended Cuts, both majestically, and beautifully upgraded with stunning resolution. The blu-ray discs contain all the originally released extras that were included upon their release, which is a comprehensive look at the making of the film, and lots of glimpses at the behind the scenes that created the iconic film.
For those not in the know, or just needing a refresher the tale follows Maximus, and as is summed up in a line of dialogue from the film “the general who became a slave. The slave who became a gladiator. The gladiator who defied an emperor.”
Maximus sets out on a course of revenge, against Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix),whose actions not only betrayed the general, but also the state of Rome itself.
What follows is a character study of both men, set against dizzying sequences of gladiatorial combat culminating in a final showdown between Maximus and Commodus.
The supporting cast includes Djimon Hounsou, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed and Richard Harris, and the film remains completely captivating and engaging, perhaps more so with the 4K upgrade. Hearing the strains of the score, listening them come to a cacophonous echo of the combat, as the battle wages across the screen is still a powerful experience.
It’s easy to pass this one over, it felt so overplayed when it came to home video originally. I remember it in the video stores, and as much as I loved the film upon release I just grew so tired of it. Now with some years between viewings, and being able to settle in and watch it in such a sharp presentation, I got swept up in it all over again.
Gladiator the 20th Anniversary 4k Steebook Edition is available today from Paramount Canada. Strength and honour.