All this week we'll be highlighting some of our favorite scenes from Oscar-winning films and performances leading up to this year's Academy Awards on Sunday night.
Even though there are plenty of people who think Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe may not have deserved Oscar gold back in 2001, I will respectfully disagree ... and the opening scene of Gladiator is why. Say what you will about the film's hyped-up machismo, uneven pacing, or cavalcade of accents, but you have to admire a flick that in under 10 minutes can make you feel like you're ready to charge into a battle to the death. Not to mention that this scene is responsible for making the phrase "Hold the line!" something a lot cooler than just a song by Toto.
The success of Gladiator mainly rests on the shoulders of Crowe, who manages to make you give a damn about a relatively 2-D character. So even though the box-office and the Academy rarely agree, I still think Ridley and company deserved the Oscar for creating a 'thinking man's action hero'. Gladiator might not be a perfect film, but thanks to this opening scene, it has earned a permanent place on my list of movie favorites.
Gladiator trivia (via IMDB)
- Among the chanting of the Germanic hordes at the beginning of the film are samples of the Zulu war chant from the film Zulu (1964).
- The wounds on 'Russell Crowe's face after the opening battle scene are real, caused when his horse startled and backed him into tree branches.
- Mel Gibson was offered, but turned down the part of Maximus.