Gladiator This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   "Gladiator" sheds light on humans' thirst forviolence and Jerry Springer. If you haven't seen "Gladiator" but likeblood, guts and disemboweling, I suggest you scurry down to the nearest videostore and help DreamWorks pay for its multi-million dollar budget.

Thescreenplay is your typical modern-day remake of a Shakespeare-esque tale ofdeceit, envy, ambition, empirical corruption and good old-fashioned lust andgreed. The currently hot Russell Crowe stars as Maximus, who begins the film as acommander so high in the Roman army that the aging Caesar Marcus Aurelius(Richard Harris) picks him as successor, instead of Caesar's own son, Commodus(Joaquin Phoenix). The plot revolves loosely around political intrigue, withCommodus worrying about Maximus' rise in popularity, and Commodus' sister Lucilla(Connie Nielsen) worrying that her son will be killed and she will become thenext saucy wench of her incestuous brother.

If you are looking for astriking storyline, a heartwarming epic or a cinematic masterpiece worthy of"Ben-Hur," you aren't going to find it here. But, "Gladiator"held my attention.

Although the story line was intriguing and thecinematography breathtaking, I found one aspect troubling. The movie revolvesaround scenes of Roman citizens cheering wildly as slaves and gladiators arekilled. Throughout the movie, characters remark about how much people enjoy thesuffering of their fellow human beings. Every gory fight scene is accompanied bythe Jerry Springer-like mob of commoners, aristocrats and senators alike hootingand hollering as heads literally roll across the dusty Coliseum floor.

AsI watched, I began to wonder if things have really changed in the last couple ofmillennia. We no longer feed Christians to lions or force indentured servants tofight to the death, but violence still drives our entertainment industry. Wegrimace and cover our eyes, but peek through our fingers for a glimpse of whatmakes us squirm with fear and delight.

This phenomenon keeps the world ofhorror movies and professional sports in business. People are appalled at theviolent crime rates and speak out about violent cartoons, gun control anddomestic abuse, yet line up at the box office of modern-day Coliseums, gatheraround the television during the WWF WrestleMania championships and cheer withdisbelief and delight as ears are bitten off at boxing matches and quarterbacksare sacked and permanently injured.

It's no wonder movies like"Gladiator" and the "Scream" trilogy are so popular.Something about fistfights, bludgeoning blows and decapitations (albeit Hollywoodstyle) fascinates people. Could it be our primeval caveman instincts that make usrelish a good fight on the playground or in a hockey game? What creates thisdesire to watch other people get hurt?

I find it ironic that we thinkourselves so much more advanced and intelligent than our ancestors, even thoughthe same bloodthirsty crocodiles still seem to lurk beneath the surface of oursubconscious, waiting for a moment when they are freed by the anonymity of aroaring mob or a darkened movie theater. Sure, people will say this kind of thingis harmless until they are blue in the face, but the question remains: are wethat much different from the ancestors we deem savage?




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback