Study Guide

Gladiator Awe and Amazement

Awe and Amazement

With so many stunning, computer-generated images (the Roman Colosseum, for example), Gladiator's definitely a film that evokes awe and amazement. It thematizes awe and amazement as well—what are gladiator games but an amazing spectacle for the people to watch?

Commodus knows this, and he knows what kind of power it can bring. Gracchus realizes this also, and comments at one point that the "magic" Commodus us conjuring for the people is just a way to secure control. Proximo realizes it too, and even describes himself as an "entertainer," a guy motivated solely by money and in the interest of giving the people the "awe" and "amazement" they want.

Questions About Awe and Amazement

  1. Awful can mean both "horrible" and "awe-inspiring." How does the film explore these two senses of the word awful?
  2. What amazes Maximus?
  3. What's Proximo's take on awe and amazement? What amazes him? What does he say about awe and amazement?
  4. What do you make of Juba's amazement when he first sees the Colosseum?

Chew on This

Even though Commodus uses awe and amazement as a way to win favor with the Roman "mob," his plan backfires, suggesting that relying too much on entertainment is not the best way to maintain power.

Gladiator reflects on the cinematic experience of awe and amazement. Moviegoers watch films to be moved…just like the Roman mob.

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