Oct 22, 2019 in Analysis

Gladiator Movie Review

Propose/Recommend How the Leadership Could be More Effective

The leadership is not just a word. The definition of it relies on personal traits of the character. Leaders are the people that do only honorable and right things. To understand the leadership better, we can compare two men Maximus and Commodus. From the film Gladiator, we can realize that the leader is the person whose name people will memorize, respect and know. From the beginning of the story, we can see how army respects the general. They stand up and salute him with honor. They could go through hell with him because every time they fight, he is the first person to go in. He is the person who yells “go with me” no “go for me.” The second phrase is Commodus’s. Maximus is the man like everyone else. He dreams of his home, his wife, and son. He respects every other soldier the same as they respect him maybe these makes him that close to his men. That makes them almost brother, more than just friends. He does not think that he is better than other. He has no fear and he is charismatic. He has lots of experience in war. He is a man that understands every single day that he can die. He prepares himself and his men for this event and usually says “we are already in heaven, we are already dead.” At the beginning of the film, another form of leadership comes to an act. Leading of an empire is an important issue for the Rome. His king, his leader that Maximus loves like a father, wants him to be the ruler. But he refuses first. The king says, “That is why you have to be the leader.” When Commodus and the king meet, they talk about being a king, the father and the four key virtues that are wisdom, justice, moderation and resistance. Commodus points that he does not have any of this. To be the leader he has to improve all of those things in his heart. To be the king he has to be wise, that is why he has to know politics, economics, philosophy, etc. For the justice, he should be honest, calm and honorable. The moderation is for the soldier, parent and monarch to be ready for everything, to handle any situation on stay on his feet. And the last one is resistance. This one is for flexibility. In contrast, Maximus is wise. He knows his army and his country more that every other man. He treats his men fair and calm. In the beginning, he chose not to yell to move ballista for the right range. He understands that the positioning is acceptable so it is ok to be like so. As a warrior, he already represents moderation and resistance. Commodus says that he is also a good person and deserves the title. He says that he has other virtues like ambitious that make everyone be the first and the only. Resourcefulness and courage are for everything but the fight. And the last one was devotion to his friends and family as a son. But his father does not respect any of his good sides of the heart. After that he understands that and kills his father. Before that Commodus comes to his father on the battlefield after the fight with words “am I late to the battle?” He rides in acting as though he will fight and lead the people to victory, but the battle has ended before. He only knows how to celebrate the victory but not to win anything. The king wanted the better son like Maximus for himself, but he had Commodus. All of these little scenes represent the polarity of two different characters. Commodus should do the opposite things to be more productive as a leader and to become the monarch.

Another interesting thing to argue about is when Maximus comes to king’s house and tells about his home. Even the King explains that the Commodus is the amoral man. That is why he cannot and should not rule the country. He points every detail with joy and counts every day he was away from home. “Two years, two hundred sixty-four days and this morning” that is how he reacts to the question about how long he was not at home. Maybe these make him the leader two. This love makes him one of the best men.


Commodus asked Maximus to join him as a representative of the army, but General serves only to the Rome. Commodus is not the Rome but wants to be. As a first step, he removes his enemy that can stand up and fight against him. But he did not just kill Maximus, he also murder his family. That was the mistake that he made in the beginning. After this event “the Spaniard” became unstoppable. When he became the gladiator, the author shows how anyone should earn the respect. He fights with other gladiators and saves their lives. He rules them in smooth way to the plan that he knows will work. One of the leadership criteria is to make people do what you want to do, making them feel that they want that themselves. That is the only way how to rule people without the authority. It is hard and delicate thing to do. He starts with the question “Was anyone of you in the army”. Every man of those times was in the army during the war. But he got their attention. After that he says to follow him and do the same as he does. Using the man who knows him as a friend he reinforces the idea that they can trust him. The victory is the final argument for them to respect him. With the honor comes the power and Maximus became a leader once again. Also, he became a leader of the crowd. "Commander of the armies of the north, General of the Felix legions, loyal servant of the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius, father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife" or simply a slave turns his back to Commodus. That movie represents the power of the crowd compared to one man. “You have a great name. Firstly, he has to destroy your name.” The greatest leader, the king cannot execute another leader but a slave, in front of his people because it will be a sign of fear and weakness. That is why it was so painful to Commodus to grant life to the gladiator at the arena.

Another interesting line of the movie was Commodus’s love to his sister Lucilla. Commodus represents a man that wants to rule everything. After he understands that he cannot be the leader of anything he tried to be the leader of someone at least. Lucilla is the only one that can be the target, but even she was not favorable to him. She had to stay with him and try to survive because her son is the heir to the throne. Her son Lucius is also an important figure in this movie. He represents the weakness that even the strongest people have. Lucilla is a powerful woman; her father loved her. Aurelius told her once that it was too bad that she was not born as a man because she could be the great leader. She is centered, calm and unbearable to understand. She is like an actor in this film; she represents a woman in those times that cannot show her emotions. She has to be a “man in the skirt”.

Also one of the most important episodes in the film is the fight of Maximus versus Tigris of Gaul, the undefeated gladiator. He received the freedom by killing every single enemy on the sand of the arena. Caesar invented the way how to kill his enemy. He made Colosseum staff unleash the tiger and hold them till Maximus comes to the cages during the battle to put him at a disadvantage and make him die. However, the result was one dead tiger and the crowd cheering for the death of the Tigris of Gaul. After the signal of Commodus “kill” Maximus rejected to do so. “Maximus the Merciful” was the best evidence of the monarchy’s weakness.

Senator as one of the crowd representatives comes to Commodus house and gives an advice to kill Maximus. “I will not make him a martyr” says Caesar. He wants to earn something at his life, to win at least one battle. After the Lucilla’s betrayal the final battle comes to its place and the last challange of the leadership comes out. Commodus understands that the win is the last way to overrun his opponent. He hurts Maximus with a knife and tries to win it by dies. So if anything of the following thing that happened to Commodus could change, he could become a leader. But he lost an “all in” fight as a result. He made a mistake, thinking that he can kill a man that has nothing to lose and has a goal. Maximus made his men the same, he gave them the goal, the noble cause and they have become unbeatable. Commodus needed to understand Maximus to become a leader.


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