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When a Roman general is betrayed and his family murdered by an emperor's corrupt son, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge.
Commodus: Rise. Rise. [Maximus stands up, clenching an arrow head in his right hand] Commodus: Your fame is well deserved, Spaniard. I don't think there's ever been a gladiator to match you. As for this young man, he insists you are Hector reborn. Or was it Hercules? Why doesn't the hero reveal himself and tell us all your real name? You do have a name. Maximus: My name is Gladiator. [turns away from Commodus] Commodus: How dare you show your back to me! Slave, you will remove your helmet and tell me your name. Maximus: [removes helmet and turns around to face Commodus] My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the TRUE emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next. [Commodus trembles in disbelief] Quintus: Arms! [Praetorians point their spears at the gladiators while the Colosseum crowd chants for them to live. Commodus shakes his head and motions the crowd for silence. He then raises his fist and reluctantly gives the thumbs-up signal]
Maximus: What we do in life echoes in eternity.
Commodus: The general who became a slave. The slave who became a gladiator. The gladiator who defied an emperor. Striking story! But now, the people want to know how the story ends. Only a famous death will do. And what could be more glorious than to challenge the Emperor himself in the great arena? Maximus: You would fight me? Commodus: Why not? Do you think I am afraid? Maximus: I think you've been afraid all your life.
[to his dead friend] Juba: I will see you again... but not yet... not yet...
Maximus: I knew a man once who said, "Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back." Commodus: I wonder, did your friend smile at his own death? Maximus: You must know. He was your father. Commodus: You loved my father, I know. But so did I. That makes us brothers, doesn't it? Smile for me now, brother. [stabs him]
Maximus: [after swiftly dispatching another gladiator] Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here? Crowd: Spaniard, Spaniard, Spaniard...
[addressing his troops] Maximus: Fratres! [Cavalry addresses Maximus] Maximus: Three weeks from now, I will be harvesting my crops. Imagine where you will be, and it will be so. Hold the line! Stay with me! If you find yourself alone, riding in the green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium, and you're already dead! [Cavalry laughs] Maximus: Brothers, what we do in life... echoes in eternity.
Maximus: At my signal, unleash hell.
Maximus: Strength and honor.
Maximus: My name is Gladiator.
Commodus: What am I going to do with you? You simply won't... die. Are we so different, you and I? You take life when you have to... as I do. Maximus: I have only one more life to take. Then it is done. Commodus: Then take it now. [Maximus pauses, then turns around and walks away] Commodus: They tell me your son... [Maximus stops] Commodus: ...squealed like a girl when they nailed him to the cross. And your wife... moaned like a whore when they ravaged her again and again... and again. Maximus: The time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end. [Bows head] Maximus: Highness.
[last lines] Juba: And now we are Free. I will see you again... but not yet... Not yet!
Lucilla: Today I saw a slave become more powerful than the Emperor of Rome.
Lucilla: My brother hates all the world and you most of all. Maximus: Because your father chose me. Lucilla: No. Because my father loved you. And because I loved you.
Marcus Aurelius: Are you ready to do your duty for Rome? Commodus: Yes, father. Marcus Aurelius: You will not be emperor. Commodus: Which wiser, older man is to take my place? Marcus Aurelius: My powers will pass to Maximus, to hold in trust until the Senate is ready to rule once more. Rome is to be a republic again. Commodus: Maximus? Marcus Aurelius: Yes. My decision disappoints you? Commodus: You wrote to me once, listing the four chief virtues: Wisdom, justice, fortitude and temperance. As I read the list, I knew I had none of them. But I have other virtues, father. Ambition. That can be a virtue when it drives us to excel. Resourcefulness, courage, perhaps not on the battlefield, but... there are many forms of courage. Devotion, to my family and to you. But none of my virtues were on your list. Even then it was as if you didn't want me for your son. Marcus Aurelius: Oh, Commodus. You go too far. Commodus: I search the faces of the gods... for ways to please you, to make you proud. One kind word, one full hug... where you pressed me to your chest and held me tight. Would have been like the sun on my heart for a thousand years. What is it in me that you hate so much? Marcus Aurelius: Shh, Commodus. Commodus: All I've ever wanted was to live up to you, Caesar. Father. Marcus Aurelius: [Marcus Aurelius gets down on his knees] Commodus. Your faults as a son is my failure as a father. Come [Gives Commodus a hug] Commodus: [Commodus hugs Marcus and cries] Father. I would have butcher the whole world... if you would only love me! [Commodus begins to asphyxiate Marcus while they hug, Marcus grunts]
Quintus: People should know when they are conquered. Maximus: Would you, Quintus? Would I?
Commodus: If you're very good, tomorrow night I'll tell you the story of emperor Claudius who was betrayed by those closest to him, by his own blood. They whispered in dark corners and went out late at night and conspired and conspired but the emperor Claudius knew they were up to something. He knew they were busy little bees. And one night he sat down with one of them and he looked at her and he said, "Tell me what you've been doing busy little bee or I shall strike down those dearest to you. You shall watch as I bathe in their blood." And the emperor was heartbroken. The little bee had wounded him more deeply than anyone else could ever have done. And what do you think happened then, Lucius? Lucius Verus: I don't know, uncle. Commodus: The little bee told him everything.
Commodus: Have I missed it? Have I missed the battle? Marcus Aurelius: You have missed the war. Commodus: Father, congratulations. I shall sacrifice a hundred bulls to honor your triumph. Marcus Aurelius: Save the bulls. Honor Maximus. He won the battle.
Maximus: Nothing happens to anyone that he is not fitted by nature to bear
Maximus: You don't find it hard to do your duty? Cicero: Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to.
Gracchus: Fear and wonder, a powerful combination. Falco: You really think people are going to be seduced by that? Gracchus: I think he knows what Rome is. Rome is the mob. Conjure magic for them and they'll be distracted. Take away their freedom and still they'll roar. The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the senate, it's the sand of the coliseum. He'll bring them death - and they will love him for it.
Maximus: Ancestors, I ask you for your guidance. Blessed mother, come to me with the Gods' desire for my future. Blessed father, watch over my wife and son with a ready sword. Whisper to them that I live only to hold them again, for all else is dust and air. Ancestors, I honor you and will try to live with the dignity that you have taught me.
Proximo: Ultimately, we're all dead men. Sadly, we cannot choose how but, what we can decide is how we meet that end, in order that we are remembered, as men.
Commodus: [to Falco] Lucius will stay with me now. And if his mother so much as looks at me in a manner that displeases me, he will die. If she decides to be noble and takes her own life, he will die. [to Lucilla] Commodus: And as for you, you will love me as I loved you. You will provide me with an heir of pure blood, so that Commodus and his progeny will rule for a thousand years. Am I not merciful? [Lucilla turns her head] Commodus: AM I NOT MERCIFUL?
[His only line] Tigris: We who are about to die, salute you!
Maximus: Five thousand of my men are out there in the freezing mud. Three thousand of them are bloodied and cleaved. Two thousand will never leave this place. I will not believe that they fought and died for nothing. Marcus Aurelius: And what would you believe? Maximus: They fought for you and for Rome. Marcus Aurelius: And what is Rome, Maximus? Maximus: I've seen much of the rest of the world. It is brutal and cruel and dark, Rome is the light. Marcus Aurelius: Yet you have never been there. You have not seen what it has become. I am dying, Maximus. When a man sees his end... he wants to know there was some purpose to his life. How will the world speak my name in years to come? Will I be known as the philosopher? The warrior? The tyrant...? Or will I be the emperor who gave Rome back her true self? There was once a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish... it was so fragile. And I fear that it will not survive the winter.
[Watching Lucius sleep] Commodus: He sleeps so well because he is loved.
Marcus Aurelius: There was a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish, it was so fragile.
Marcus Aurelius: Won't you accept this great honor that I have offered you? Maximus: With all my heart, no. Marcus Aurelius: Maximus, that is why it must be you.
[Maximus looks at images of his wife and son] Juba: Can they hear you? Maximus: Who? Juba: Your family. In the afterlife. Maximus: Oh yes. Juba: What do you say to them? Maximus: To my son - I tell him I will see him again soon. To keep his heels down while riding his horse. To my wife... that is not your business.
[as an executioner tries to draw his sword but can't] Maximus: The frost, it sometimes makes the blade stick. [kills the executioner]
Proximo: Those giraffes you sold me, they won't mate. They just walk around, eating, and not mating. You sold me... queer giraffes. I want my money back.
[after the final duel] Maximus: Quintus! Release my men. Senator Gracchus is to be reinstated. There was a dream that was Rome. It shall be realized. These are the wishes of Marcus Aurelius.
Gracchus: I don't pretend to be a man of the people. But I do try to be a man for the people.
[Looking at some slaves] Proximo: Can any of them fight? I've got a match coming up. Slave Trader: Some are good for fighting, others for dying. You need both, I think.
Commodus: I think I understand my own people. Gracchus: Then perhaps Caesar will be so good as to teach us, out of his own extensive experience? Commodus: I call it love, Gracchus. The people are my children, I am their father. I shall hold them to my bosom and embrace them tightly... Gracchus: Have you ever embraced someone dying of plague, sire? Commodus: No, but if you interrupt me again, I assure you that you will.
Maximus: Are you in danger of becoming a good man, Proximo? Proximo: Ha!
Marcus Aurelius: When was the last time you were home? Maximus: Two years, two hundred and sixty-four days and this morning.
Proximo: He knows too well how to manipulate the mob. Maximus: Marcus Aurelius had a dream that was Rome, Proximo. That is not it. That is not it! Proximo: Marcus Aurelius is dead, Maximus. We mortals are but shadows and dust. Shadows and dust, Maximus!
Gracchus: The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the Senate, it's the sand of the Colosseum. He'll bring them death and they will love him for it.
[to his men before a battle] Maximus: Three weeks from now, I will be harvesting my crops. Imagine where you will be, and it will be so.
Commodus: Your Emperor asks for your loyalty, Maximus. Take my hand, I only offer it once.
Maximus: Quintus, look at me. Look at me! Promise me that you'll look after my family. Quintus: Your family will meet you in the afterlife.
Marcus Aurelius: Let us pretend that you are a loving daughter, and I am a good father. Lucilla: This is a pleasant fiction, is it not?
[Upon seeing the Coliseum for the first time] Juba: I didn't know men could build such things.
On Screen Text: [first lines, the text that appears on screen] At the height of its power the Roman Empire was vast, stretching from the deserts of Africa to the borders of Northern England. On Screen Text: Over one quarter of the World's population lived and died under the rule of the Caesars. On Screen Text: In the winter of 180 A.D., Emperor Marcus Aurelius' twelve-year campaign against the Barbarian Tribes in Germania was drawing to an end. On Screen Text: Just one final stronghold stands in the way of Roman victory and the promise of peace throughout the Empire.
Lucilla: Is Rome worth one good man's life? We believed it once. Make us believe it again. He was a soldier of Rome. Honor him. Gracchus: Who will help me carry him? [Gladiators surround Maximus to carry him out of the arena]
Commodus: It's a dream, a frightful dream... life is...
Commodus: And now they love Maximus for his mercy. So I can't just kill him, or it makes me even more unmerciful! The whole thing's like some crazed nightmare. Falco: He is defying you. His every victory is an act of defiance. The mob sees this, and so does the senate. Every day he lives, they grow bolder. Kill him. Commodus: No. I will not make a martyr of him. [Commodus walks around] Falco: I have been told of a certain sea snake which has a very unusual method of attracting its prey. It will lie at the bottom of the ocean as if wounded. Then its enemies will approach, and yet it will lie quite still. And then its enemies will take little bites of it, and yet it remains still. Commodus: So, we will lie still, and let our enemies come to us and nibble. Have every senator followed.
Proximo: Congratulations, you have very persuasive friends. Lucilla: My brother's had Gracchus arrested. We daren't wait any longer. We must leave tonight. Proximo will be here t midnight and take you to the gate. Your servant, Cicero will be waiting there with horses. [Maximus nods] Maximus: You have done all this? Lucilla: Yes. Maximus: [sighs] You risk too much. Lucilla: I have much to pay for. [Maximus shakes his head] Maximus: You have nothing to pay for. You love your son, you are strong for him. Lucilla: I am tired of being strong.(sighs) My brother hates all the world and you most of all. Maximus: Because your father chose me. Lucilla: No because my father loved you... and because I loved you. Maximus: A long time ago. [kisses her hand] Lucilla: [smiles] Was I very different then? Maximus: (shakes his head, touches her face with his finger) You laughed more. Lucilla: I have felt alone all my life, except with you. I must go. Maximus: Yes. [kisses Lucilla one last time]
Commodus: You and I are not much different. You take life when you have to, as I do. Maximus: I have only one more life to take. Then it is done.
[during the fight with Maximus, Commodus loses his sword] Commodus: Quintus, sword! [Quintus does nothing] Commodus: Give me your sword! [Quintus does nothing] Commodus: [to his guards] Sword, give me a sword! [the guards unsheathe their swords] Quintus: Sheathe your swords! Sheathe your swords! [the guards sheathe their swords]
Gracchus: And after your glorious coup, what then? You take your five thousand and... leave? Maximus: Yes, I will leave. The soldiers will stay here for your protection, under the guidance of the Senate. Gracchus: So, after Rome's all yours, you just give it back to the people. Tell me why. Maximus: Because that was a dying man's last wish. I will kill Commodus. The fate of Rome, I leave to you. Gracchus: Marcus Aurelius trusted you. His daughter trusts you. I will trust you. Give me two days, and I will purchase your freedom. And you, stay alive, or I'll be dead.
Gracchus: But the Senate IS the people, sire. Chosen from AMONG the people. To speak FOR the people. Commodus: I doubt if any of the people eat so well as you, Gracchus. Or have such splendid mistresses, Gaius.
Maximus: I may die here in this cell or in the arena tomorrow. What possible difference can I make?
Juba: You have a great name. He must kill your name before he kills you.
Commodus: It vexes me. I'm terribly vexed.
Marcus Aurelius: You have proven your valor once again, Maximus. Let us hope for the last time. Maximus: There is no one left to fight, sire. Marcus Aurelius: There is always someone left to fight. How can I reward Rome's greatest general? Maximus: Let me go home. Marcus Aurelius: Ah, home.
[just before he is stabbed by the guards] Proximo: Shadows and dust.
Proximo: Listen to me. Learn from me. I was not the best because I killed quickly. I was the best because the crowd loved me. Win the crowd and you will win your freedom.
Maximus: [the negotiator is riding headless towards the army] They say, "No."
Gracchus: He enters Rome like a conquering hero. But what has he conquered? Falco: Give him time, Gracchus. He's young, he may do very well. Gracchus: For Rome? Or for you?
Maximus: I am required to kill, so I kill. That is enough. Proximo: That's enough for the provinces, but not enough for Rome.
Cassius: On this day, we reach back to hallowed antiquity, to bring you a recreation of the second fall of the mighty Carthage!... On the barren plain of Zama, there stood the invincible armies of the barbarian Hannibal. Ferocious mercenaires and warriors from all brute nations, bent on merciless destruction, conquest. Your emperor is pleased to give you the barbarian horde! [Crowd cheers] Maximus: [while Cassius continues his introduction] Anyone here been in the army? [an unknown gladiator responds yes and tells Maximus he served under his command at Vindobona] Maximus: You can help me. Whatever comes out of these gates, we've got a better chance of survival if we work together. Do you understand? If we stay together we survive. Cassius: I'm pleased to bring to you the Legionnaires of Scipio Africanus!
Proximo: So Spaniard, we shall go to Rome together and have bloody adventures. And the great whore will suckle us until we are fat and happy and can suckle no more. And then, when enough men have died, perhaps you will have your freedom.
Proximo: [addressing his new recruits] I am Proximo! I shall be closer to you for the next few days, which will be the last of your miserable lives, than that bitch of a mother who first brought you screaming into this world! I did not pay good money for your company. I paid it so that I might profit from your death. And just as your mother was there at your beginning, I shall be there at your end. And when you die - and die you shall - your transition will be to the sound of... [claps his hands] Proximo: Gladiators... I salute you.
Lucilla: Please be quiet, brother! Your constant scheming gives me even more of a headache!
Lucilla: What did my father want with you? Maximus: To wish me well before I leave for home. Lucilla: You're lying, I could always tell when you were lying because you were never any good at it. Maximus: I never acquired your comfort with it. Lucilla: True, but then you never had to, life is more simple for a soldier. Or do you think me heartless? Maximus: I think you have a talent for survival.
Maximus: Do you remember what it was to have trust, Proximo? Proximo: [unfamiliarly] Trust?
Maximus: Five thousand of my men are out there in the freezing mud. Three thousand of them are bloodied and cleaved. Two thousand will never leave this place. I will not believe they fought and died for nothing.
Maximus: You risk too much. Lucilla: I have much to pay for. Maximus: You have nothing to pay for.
[Lucilla tries to convince Maximus to conspire with Senator Gracchus] Lucilla: This man wants what you want. Maximus: Then have *him* kill Commodus!
Marcus Aurelius: [to his daughter Lucilla] If only you had been born a man, what a Caesar you would have made.
[last lines] Maximus: Lucius is safe.
Maximus: [laughing] You knew Marcus Aurelius? Proximo: [very quickly and defensively] I didn't say I knew him, I said he touched me on the shoulder once!
Lucilla: I want to help you. Maximus: Yes, you can help me... Forget you ever knew me, and never come back here again.
Maximus: [to Proximo] He killed the man who set you free.
[Maximus is about to ride out with the cavalry to fight the barbarians] Quintus: Soldier! I told you to move those catapults forward. They're out of range. Maximus: Range is good. Quintus: The danger to the cavalry... Maximus: Is acceptable. Agreed?
[Inspecting the gladiators through the bars, Lucius notices Maximus and motions him closer. Amused, Maximus complies] Lucius Verus: Gladiator, are you the one they call the Spaniard? Maximus: Yes. Lucius Verus: They said you were a giant. They said you could crush a man's skull with one hand. Maximus: [looks at his palm] A man's? No. A boy's... [Lucius smiles, and points to the art on Maximus' armor] Lucius Verus: They have good horses in Spain? Maximus: Some of the best. [points] Maximus: This is Argento, and this is Scarto. They were my horses. They were taken from me. Lucius Verus: I like you Spaniard, and I shall cheer for you. Maximus: They let you watch the games? Lucius Verus: My uncle says it makes me strong. Maximus: And what does your father say? Lucius Verus: My father's dead. Lucius' Attendant: Master Lucius, it is time. Lucius Verus: I have to go. Maximus: Thy name is Lucius? Lucius Verus: Lucius Verus, after my father.
German Barbarian: Ihr seid verfluchte hunde!
Proximo: You're good, Spaniard, but you're not that good. You could be magnificent.
Proximo: Some of you are thinking that you won't fight. Others, that you can't fight. They all say that, until they're out there
Quintus: Maximus, please be careful, that wasn't prudent. Maximus: Prudent? The Emperor has been slain.
Gracchus: He will bring them death, and they will love him for it.
Proximo: [holding up a sword] Thrust this into another man's flesh, and they will applaud and love you for that. You may even begin to love them [thrusts] Proximo: for that.
Maximus: Roma Ignis
Proximo: I know that you are a man of your word, General. I know that you would die for honor, for Rome, for the memory of your ancestors. But as for me? I'm an entertainer.
Marcus Aurelius: Tell me again, Maximus, why are we here? Maximus: For the glory of the Empire, sire.
Maximus' Son: Mamma, i soldati!
Gracchus: The Senate is the people, sire. Chosen from among the people, to speak for the people.
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