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
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.
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
She is LUCILLA.
He's been dying for ten years.
I think he's really dying this time.
A beat. Their breath turns instantly to mist.
He has to be bled every night now.
How do you know that?
I've been so informed.
She arches an eyebrow.
If he weren't really dying he
wouldn't have sent for us.
Maybe he just misses us.
And the Senators. He wouldn't have
summoned them if --
Peace, Commodus. After two weeks on
the road your incessant scheming is
hurting my head.
The first thing I shall do is honor
him with games worthy of his
The first thing I shall do is have a
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
Why have we stopped?
PRAETORIAN GUARD MEMBER
We're here, sir.
(to Soldier #1)
Where is my father?
He's at the front, sir.
Is the battle won?
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:
(to Soldier #1)
My sister wants a bath, take her to
(to Soldier #2)
Take me to my father.
He leaps onto the horse and canters back to the Praetorian
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.
Civilization at last. Gods preserve
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
You would do as well to read the
mind of a rhinoceros.