Gladiator script
Gladiator (2000)
Synopsis: Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) takes power and strips rank from Maximus (Russell Crowe), one of the favored generals of his predecessor and father, Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the great stoical philosopher. Maximus is then relegated to fighting to the death in the gladiator arenas.

FADE IN:

EXT. FOREST - DAY

Germania. The far reaches of the Roman Empire.

Winter 180 A.D.

Incongruously enough, the first sound we hear is a

beautiful tenor voice. Singing. A boy's voice.

CREDITS as we hear the haunting song float through dense

forests. We finally come to a rough, muddy road slashing

through the forest. On the road a GERMAN PEASANT FATHER

is herding along three sickly looking cows. His two SONS

are with him. His youngest son sits on one of the cows

and sings a soft, plaintive song.

They become aware of another sound behind them on the road

-- the creak of wood, the slap of metal on leather. The

Father immediately leads his cattle and his sons off the

road. They stand-still, eyes down: the familiar posture

of subjugated peoples throughout history.

A wagon train rumbles past them. Three ornate wagons

followed by a mounted cohort of fifty heavily-armed

PRAETORIAN GUARDS.

The young boy dares to glance up at the passing Romans.

His eyes burn with hatred.

INT. WAGON - DAY

Mist momentarily obscures a man's face. Frozen breath.

The man is in his 20's, imperious and handsome. He is

swathed in fur, only his face exposed. He is COMMODUS.

He glances up.

COMMODUS:

Do you think he's really dying?

The woman across from him returns his gaze evenly. She is

slightly older, beautiful and patrician. A formidable

woman.

She is LUCILLA.

LUCILLA:

He's been dying for ten years.

COMMODUS:

I think he's really dying this time.

A beat. Their breath turns instantly to mist.

COMMODUS:

He has to be bled every night now.

LUCILLA:

How do you know that?

COMMODUS:

I've been so informed.

She arches an eyebrow.

COMMODUS:

If he weren't really dying he

wouldn't have sent for us.

LUCILLA:

(a smile)

Maybe he just misses us.

COMMODUS:

And the Senators. He wouldn't have

summoned them if --

LUCILLA:

Peace, Commodus. After two weeks on

the road your incessant scheming is

hurting my head.

A beat.

COMMODUS:

The first thing I shall do is honor

him with games worthy of his

majesty.

LUCILLA:

The first thing I shall do is have a

hot bath.

The wagon rumbles to a halt. Voices are heard outside.

Commodus leaps out...

EXT. WAGON - OUTPOST - DAY

Three Roman SOLDIERS guard an outpost, a watchtower, on

the roadside.

COMMODUS:

Why have we stopped?

PRAETORIAN GUARD MEMBER

We're here, sir.

COMMODUS:

(to Soldier #1)

Where is my father?

SOLDIER #1

He's at the front, sir.

COMMODUS:

Is the battle won?

SOLDIER #1

Don't know, sir. They've been gone

for eight days.

Commodus tosses off his furs -- beneath them he wears a

beautiful set of Lorica Segmentata -- the traditional

formed armor of Rome. He moves to a horse as:

COMMODUS:

(to Soldier #1)

My sister wants a bath, take her to

the camp.

(to Soldier #2)

Take me to my father.

He leaps onto the horse and canters back to the Praetorian

Guard unit.

Soldier #2 climbs on his horse and leads them. Commodus

rides off with most of the Praetorian Guard unit.

Lucilla peeks her head from the wagon. She glances at the

remaining soldiers. Distinctly unpromising.

LUCILLA:

(dry)

Civilization at last. Gods preserve

us.

EXT. HILL - TWILIGHT

The mighty catapults dwarf the humans. Soldiers from the

elite Felix Regiment -- a legion of the Roman Army -- haul

the monstrous machines up a hill.

The commanding General of the Felix Regiment, MAXIMUS,

walks between two of the catapults. He is a striking and

intense man in his 30's. Like all the soldiers who

surround him, he is caked with mud and exhausted.

He trudges up the hill with his two lieutenants, TITUS and

QUINTUS.

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David Franzoni

David Harold Franzoni (born March 4, 1947) is an American screenwriter and producer. His best-known screenplays include King Arthur, Gladiator (which won the Academy Award for Best Picture), Amistad, and Jumpin' Jack Flash. more…

All David Franzoni scripts | David Franzoni Books

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