Michael Andrews ENC 1102 Joseph Cottle 1 February 2013 “Are You Not Entertained” Gladiator is the story in which a fallen general must fight as a gladiator in order to seek his vengeance for his murdered family. There are two sides though, that are really never looked at when talking about this movie and that is the whites and colored. Race is a barrier in which it blocks the ability of one to move from class and experience a different sense of family. The two characters that will help illustrate this will be Maximus and Juba. Class is important to the movie because it shows how a man can go from having it all to have nothing but bloody “fame,” to becoming emperor.
In the beginning of the movie, the
general Maximus Decimus Meridius is leading his troops against a Germanic tribe. He is in the front of all of his men being acknowledged everywhere he goes for being the general. He is wearing the finest fur around his back, to symbolize his rank, while the common soldiers had nothing more than plain armor. After the battle has concluded Maximus return to his tent which compared to the average soliders’ is a palace. As the general, Maximus is given the best which is available to be given. He does not have to worry about not having equipment for himself. Then, while talking to Marcus Aurelius, Maximus realizes he is not just this general, but a normal farmer with a wife and child. Here in this class, he speaks to Marcus of his prized land producing different goods. He does not have the best house in the empire but he knows he enjoys his life. In this class, it shows Maximus’ true self in that he is not one that needs the
expensive furs and the biggest tent, but shows he is a truly humble. He is just a regular man making a living by using his hands planting the yearly crops. Later, Maximus is captured by a slave trader. Where he is bought by a man who trains gladiators. Maximus is stripped of all his belongs except for the clothes on his back and given a dot to tell him whether he is a good or bad fighter. Maximus even loses his own name and uses “Spaniard” because he is not the same person anymore since all that was dear to him was taken from him. He then is reduced to a puppet for the people of the arena. This truly is the lowest point of his life. He is reduced to killing for people’s enjoyment. That is, until he begins to win and gain fame. Once he has gained this fame he is “translating his celebrity into cultural currency and power,” (Gabler) and becomes one of the most beloved gladiators in the empire. The last stage in which Maximus goes through would be once he has gained his fame. The emperor recognizes him and wants him killed, so in the end of the movie there is a finally battle in which Maximus and the Emperor fight. Maximus ends up stabbing the Emperor in the throat and killing him. This is very significant because once Maximus kills the emperor he then takes over as the emperor, so he has all the power and control. This power allows him to free his comrades and the emperor to be given to the people, just as Marcus Aurelis had wanted. “Through his self-sacrifice and death he successfully restores the continuity of Roman imperialism.” (Barker) It also moved him back to the top class again before he dies which shows a man can make it back from the bottom class. Maximus is a man who shows that anybody’s class can be taken away from them but it takes them self to climb back up. On the other hand, blacks had a much different type of social class. They had but one class, slave. Every time you see a colored person, they are doing something involving being a
slave, be it a gladiator or the emperor servant. An example of this concept would be from the character of Juba. Juba is an African male who was forcefully taken from his home in African and sold into slavery. From this point on Juba is nothing more than a slave. According to an article, blacks where considered â€œan insult to nature and nature's proper product of the white man.â€?(Wiesen) He becomes a gladiator but unlike Maximus never really is given the spotlight. This means that his fame never really blossoms as Maximus does. He never has the crowd chanting his name and without this he is never going to be more than just a gladiator. This concept shows that colored people, in this movie, are not really given the luxury to move from class to class as whites are able to. This is until Maximusâ€™ death when he is freed. Then he becomes a new man who can go look for his family. Maximus has many different homes with many different families in this movie. This movie represents that family does not have to be by blood. It can be the relationships with the people you are closest with. Through each one of his classes, Maximus finds a new family that cares for him. The story leads from one of his families to another. He starts off as a general with his troops. While he is the general, all of his men respect him and will follow him to death if they have to. After first war against the Germanic tribe where Maximus leads them to a victory. Afterwards, it can be seen how caring of a general that Maximus is, when he visits his wounded soldiers in the infirmary and watching in vain as his men are being treated for missing limbs and other fatal injuries. He is also not afraid talk with his men on a person level when he walking around the camp. From this mutual respect that Maximus and his men have, later on when Maximus is going to try to raid the city in order to get rid of Commodus and his men are ready to back him. This is an example of how they are family.
From this family another is born, between Marcus Aurelius and Maximus. Maximus once dated Marcus’ daughter and from that and being the General of the Army these two are very close. Marcus believes Maximus to be the “son I should have had.” This is a significant relationship because Marcus Aurelius is a very old man and realizes he will die soon. So instead of intrusting his own son with the empire, he is willing trust Maximus with the task of returning the empire to the people. Maximus’ next family would be his biological family in his wife and child. They are the light of his life and he is willing to do anything in order to keep them safe. After not showing his loyalty to the Commodus when he proclaims himself emperor, Maximus is taken to be killed and finds out this family could be hurt. He escapes the execution and hurries home to find that his family had been burned and crucified to the gate in front of their house. Maximus falls down in shock and after a few seconds goes over and kisses the feet of his dead wife. This shows how deeply he cares for his family. For as long as he lives he is going to seek revenge on those that destroyed his family. Also the importance of his real family is that everywhere that Maximus goes after his family dies; he carries along with him the figures of the son and wife that his son gave to him before he left as the general. In the end, his family is reunited in that Juba buries the figures in the middle of the Colosseum where Maximus died. His last family would be in his slave/gladiator days. Maximus at first does not participate in the fighting exercises that Priximo, the slave owner, puts in front of him. But once they start fighting and the other gladiators see the skill that Maximus possess and they can do nothing but respect him. Since they respect him, he will respect them back and by the time that they have journey to Rome he is close with all his comrades. He wants them all to stay alive and this can be seen in the first battle in the Colosseum when he tells his men they must stay together in order
to survive. The men are willing to give up their lives fighting the Roman army in order for Maximus to escape and get his army and lead them on Rome. Lastly when Maximus is about to die, he is the emperor so he tells Quintus to release his men and to let them be free. Then after he falls, all of his gladiator brothers are there to help carry him out of the arena. Juba, on the other hand is a different story. Since he is taken from his home he has a wife and children, the only problem is that they are on a different continent. Since he is only a slave and nothing more in the movie he really only has one family then. He has his gladiator brother around him and that’s pretty much all he has for family. This is significant because he really has nothing to live for but the chance to see his family again. He uses his gladiator brothers, such as Maximus, in order to help him stay alive long enough to get his freedom and be able to find his biological family. Maximus and Juba are similar in that both have experience the horrible slave life. They are looking for their families, Juba in Africa and Maximus who will see his in the afterlife. The difference between the two men are since Maximus is white he has the ability to move from class to class with no one’s help. On the other hand, Juba can only from class to class because with Maximus’ dying wish as emperor, he freed his men. So Juba is only freed because of another man’s authority. Also that Maximus has multiple families throughout this movie, while Juba primarily only has one. Word Count- 1715
Work Cited Page Gabler, Neal. "In Oscar Race, Family Prevails." New York Times 150.51668 (2001): 3. Print. D. S. Wiesen, 'Juvenal and the Blacks', C&M 31 (1970) 133-35. Barker, Jennifer. "A Hero Will Rise: The Myth of the Fascist Man in Fight Club and Gladiator." Literature-Film Quarterly 36 (2008): 171+. Print. Gladiator(film)(2000), Directed by Ridley Scott