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Friday, January 11, 2008

Gladiator and the Martyrs

I know it's an older movie, but have you seen "Gladiator"? It ranks in my top 5. Some days it is my number 1 movie.

My friends that are girls are galled at me: " It's such a violent movie! How can you stand all that blood and fighting"? But they miss what it is all about.

It helps that this movie is set during Roman rule. When he is fighting as a gladiator and the lions are released on him you can't but help think of the early Christians.

But the major thing I see in this movie is a man who is martyred for the Truth, for a dream that was Rome. He lost everything-he was a general meant to be murdered, his wife and child burned and murdered and his mentor and father figure Marcus Aurelius who was leading Rome as Rome deserved was murdered-all murders by Marcus Aurelius' hack of a son Commodus (played brilliantly by Joaquin Phoenix) who hates the principled hero Maximus-our Gladiator.

Throughout the movie there is always the chance that Maximus will be killed as a gladiator. Commodus had ordered him killed initially and tried to do it again and again. "Fate" would not let this happen. Maximus stays alive until his mission is accomplished. Other scenes show Maximus as a uniter of the gladiators (who are meant to compete against each other to stay alice) and they hail him for it. They rally around him to protect him.

Commudus, on the other hand is only out for himself. He whines that the crowd does not love him, tries to seduce his sister and plots to kill her son who is the heir apparent. His selfishness turns him in to a psychotic paranoid. I love how they show him in white-which to our imaginations means "the good guy"-but a very twisted white. He is pale white with shadows under his eyes and his white robes barely disguise a ruler gone bad-ghostly, barely human.

Maximus' actions spur many people in the movie to return to virtue and for the work of the good. I think the best line of the entire movie comes at the end when his fellow gladiator, Juba says "and now we are free. I will see you again...but not yet... ... not yet". It brings me to my knees every single time ('course the music behind the scenes just about undoes anyone listening, sung by the immensely talented Lisa Gerrard who doesn't sing words but "as the Spirit leads"). And the nearly last scene? With the doors? Good gravy get me a Kleenex, I just love the end the best.

My other favorite line-and I'm pretty sure I blogged about this awhile back-is at the beginning and is the theme for the movie and should be the theme of our life: What you do echoes in eternity. Isn't that a great line?!

I realize it is rated "R" , mostly for intense graphic combat but I would absolutely use this movie to inspire teens to greatness. You can use various scenes on their own, to be sure, but the entire movie is worth watching and then having a discussion on. We are in the business of forming future saints-and Gladiator shows the purpose and necessity of going through the rigors of this life for martyrdom for the Gospel .

PS What do you make of Maximus' reaching down to pick up dirt before each battle?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dirt--he's rubbing it on his hands to get a better grip on his sword and avoid sweaty palms.

1:59 AM  

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