Gladiator October 22, 1998 Script Draft: Page #3
EXT. ROME - WAGON - DAY
SENATOR GRACCHUS, an imposing, moral and corpulent man in his 60's, is riding in a luxurious wagon with Senator Gaius.
And CAPTAIN MARCELLUS, the handsome Head of the Roman City Guard.
Their wagon slowly maneuvers through the crowded streets of Rome. The cosmopolitan bustle of the great urban center is everywhere around them.
We have plague in the Hebrew Quarter
and it is spreading... we have
looting at the granaries... we have
so much filth in the Tiber that the
water is undrinkable... we have
Praetorian Guard units that are
demanding protection payments from
the merchants at the exchange --
My City Guard units have tried to
curtail these excesses but no
constabulary can police the entire
city. And the Praetorians outnumber
us two to one.
Rome dies as the Emperor plays at
beneficence. At least Nero gave us
Do you think he'll listen to us?
It is his duty to hear the will of
Their wagon stops -- hopelessly stuck in a massive traffic jam of chariots, wagons and sedan chairs.
Not to mention the damn traffic!
INT. PALACE - THRONE ROOM - DAY
Emperor Commodus is standing before a group of male children and their tutors in his throne room.
The throne room is still very much the province of his father. Manuscripts and astronomical charts and papyrus scrolls and wax tablets litter the heavy desk. A large bust of Marcus Aurelius is in one corner.
Lucilla and Senator Falco are present. So too Senators Gracchus and Gaius and Captain Marcellus.
A well-rehearsed child presents Commodus with a laurel wreath.
We honor Caesar with the laurel to
show our love and appreciation for
Caesar is honored to accept your
tribute, Citizen Scholar.
The child smiles and moves back to his fellows.
It is the most sacred duty of the
Emperor to oversee the education of
the young. If I could leave no
other legacy than the scholarship of
all children my life would be
blessed. Tutors, you hold the
future of Rome in your hands. Teach
them well so that they will bring
honor to the Empire. I salute you.
Commodus actually bows before them, an unimaginable honor.
The tutors bow in response and herd the children out.
Look at them, Senators... my truest
gift to Rome.
Darling children, to be sure, now if
I may proceed?
Commodus moves to the desk, standing over it and gazing at Marcus' scrolls as:
Caesar, your presence in Rome is an
invaluable opportunity to begin
correcting some of the ills that
have beset the city since your
father went to the wars. We would
like to --
Peace, good Gracchus, peace...
Commodus slowly begins pushing Marcus' papyrus scrolls off the desk to the floor, one by one, as:
My beloved father was a careless
shepherd to his flock. I shall be a
good father to my children. I shall
remain in Rome and show them how
they are loved.
With respect, sire, the people don't
need love -- they need law. The
Senate has prepared a series of
protocols to begin addressing the
corruption in the city --
(Gaius hands him a scroll)
-- starting with basic sanitation in
the Hebrew Quarter. If Caesar could
study this and --
You see that's the very problem,
isn't it, my old, old friend? My
father spent all his time at study.
At books and learning and
As Commodus speaks he moves to the chair behind the desk, tries it, doesn't like it, nods to a slave. The chair is whisked away.
He spent his twilight hours reading
scrolls from the Senate. All the
while, the people were forgotten.
The Senate is the people.
I doubt many of the people eat so
well as you do, Senator Gracchus...
As Commodus speaks he moves to the bust of Marcus, studies it, doesn't like it, nods to a slave and the bust is whisked away. Lucilla watches this closely.
I doubt many of the people have such
splendid armor, Captain Marcellus.
Or such fine mistresses, Senator
Gaius. No... only their true father
knows what the people need. I shall
show them they are loved. I shall
hold them to my bosom and embrace
them tightly --
Have you ever embraced someone dying
of plague, sire?
Commodus stops. Looks at him. A lethal moment.
No. But if you interrupt me one
more time I assure you that you
shall. I will emulate the immortal
Caesars of the past. I will give
the people what they truly want.
Starting this day I will draw all of
Rome to the Colosseum. I will give
them bread. And they will want
Startled looks between Gracchus, Gaius and Marcellus.
You want to hold games?
Not just any games, Senator! A
series of games that will make the
Gods envious and leave my children
happy! I will subsidize the arena
from this day forth -- and I will
culminate this celebration in a
great spectacle the likes of which
the world has never seen! A great
spectacle to honor my father!
Magnificent, unending weeks of
festivity all in the name of Marcus
If I may, Caesar... how are you
going to pay for this?
That is not your concern.
Gracchus ignores a warning look from Gaius.
Respectfully, sire, taxation and
import duties are the exclusive
province of the Senate --
Commodus spins on him so quickly and with such feral violence that everyone is shocked --
MY FATHER DESERVES TO BE HONORED AND
I WILL HONOR HIM! -- AND THE PEOPLE
WILL LOVE ME! -- AND THE SENATE WILL
OBEY ME OR EVERY ONE OF YOU WILL
BURN! BURN! BURN! -- I WILL HAVE
He snarls like a great jungle cat and he stalks away. Senator Falco quickly follows.
A dreadful silence.
Gentlemen, in the future do not
concern my brother with these
matters. Come to me.
She sweeps out.
Games? He wants to hold games?
No... it's not...
He knows who Rome is. Rome is the
mob. He will conjure magic for them
and they will be distracted. And he
will takes their lives. And he will
take their freedom. And still they
will roar. The beating heart of
Rome isn't the marble of the Senate.
It's the sand of the Colosseum. He
will give them death. And they will
love him for it.
INT. PROVINCIAL ARENA - DUGOUT - TUNNELS - DAY
Maximus is marching relentlessly through the dugout and cramped, serpentine trench-like tunnels that lead to the arena.
We don't really see Maximus well in the dark tunnels.
Proximo scurries to keep up with him -- they brush past gladiators who line the walls. Some are wounded, some are being attended to by surgeons, some are shell-shocked, some are nervously waiting to go on, whispering prayers.
We twist and turn in the tunnels with Proximo and Maximus as:
I've wagered on you against the
Celts -- ignore the others and go
for them -- there are two axe-and-
net and two long spear. Now the
Celts aren't used to the sun so you
have the advantage there...
The roar of the crowd is growing, they are nearing the arena...
And keep them moving, their lungs
aren't strong, ground the spears as
soon as you can and then go for the
ax-men. If you get all four there's
an extra bonus so don't be
distracted by the Spartans...
Without a word to Proximo, or a moment's hesitation, Maximus strides into the arena.
EXT. PROVINCIAL ARENA - DAY
We continue with Maximus as he strides into the roaring arena.
We finally see him in the blazing sunlight -- he wears traditional gladiator armor and now has longer hair and a beard --
A battle is already in progress, fighting and dead and dying gladiators crowd the arena --
We stay with Maximus as he wades through his opponents, fighting them heroically, slashing through them without stopping --
The large crowd cheers mightily -- chants of "Spaniard! Spaniard! Spaniard!"
We stay with Maximus as he cuts through the four Celts like a scythe through wheat and then we dramatically pull up and away --
Taking in the roaring arena and the hero.
EXT. PROXIMO'S SCHOOL - COMPOUND - NIGHT
A large mess area has been set up. The tables around the compound are crowded with gladiators. Guards everywhere.
Maximus and Juba enter. Move to get food. All conversation gradually drains away as the other gladiators watch them. Silence.
Maximus and Juba note the strange silence as they move to a large table.
Vibius is at the table with a number of other gladiators. There are no places for Maximus and Juba.
Vibius stands and kicks two other gladiators off their bench.
MOVE ASIDE! THIS IS A TABLE FOR
Maximus and Juba sit.
Vibius remains standing. He begins to pound on the table with his fist. Soon all the gladiators are pounding on their tables. It is a cacophonous din honoring Maximus.
INT. PROXIMO'S SCHOOL - PROXIMO'S CHAMBER - NIGHT
Proximo sits on a terrace overlooking his compound, sipping wine. Various gladiators can be seen working out below.
A guard brings Maximus. Proximo nods for the guard to leave.
(holding up a plate)
The plate is filled with honeyed butterflies, their wings still moving slightly.
Maximus shakes his head. Proximo pops one into his mouth. He chews as he looks at Maximus.
Perhaps you'd like a woman?
Maximus shakes his head.
Maximus shakes his head.
Maximus shakes his head.
Well, I have nothing left to offer
you! A man who turns down a
butterfly, a woman, a boy and gold
confuses me. Personally, I'd grab
them all and then grab some more
because the Gods are fanciful and
take us at their whim. Does the
Spaniard have any needs?
Maximus shakes his head.
A beat. Proximo studies him.
You fight like a soldier. You have
wounds like a soldier who has been
on long campaigns. You eye the
world around you like an enemy.
What is your name, Roman soldier?
And nothing more?
Proximo watches Maximus very closely for the following:
In two days we leave for Rome.
Maximus' eyes suddenly flash to Proximo. He is transfixed, his eyes burning.
Ah... so it's Rome you want. Well
you shall have her, Gladiator. The
new Emperor has ordered a series of
matches to culminate in a grand
spectacle. If you do well I shall
become very, very rich. If you do
well enough I shall set you free.
Is it freedom you want?
Maximus shakes his head.
Not even that.
The Emperor -- will he be there?
Oh yes. He's apparently quite mad
about the games. Spending a
fortune, which is, needless to say,
good for me again. But what is good
for you, Gladiator?
Have you -- how does one meet the
As a gladiator?
A beat. Proximo sees that Maximus' mind is racing.
Except... If one has proven oneself
in battle. If at the end of the
games you are the final man standing
-- the Emperor will present you with
a small wooden sword. The sword is
He give it personally?
He did to me...
(Maximus is surprised at this)
Our great father Marcus Aurelius
looked into my eyes and touched me
on the shoulder.
You knew Marcus?
I didn't know him. He touched me on
the shoulder. Just once. But that
All right, Gladiator. We shall go
to Rome together and have bloody
adventures. The Great Whore will
suckle us until we are fat and happy
and can't suck another drop. That
INT./ EXT. SLAVE WAGON - OUTSIDE ROME - EVENING
Maximus is crouched in the back of an enclosed slave wagon with Vibius, Juba and a few other gladiators.
In the distance, Rome.
INT. PALACE - COMMODUS' BEDROOM - NIGHT
Commodus sits on his bed, rubbing his aching head. Lucilla is preparing a drink for him, a medicinal tonic.
All my desires are splitting my head
to pieces -- there's so much I want
to do -- but all my efforts to show
my children they are loved go
unappreciated by those dragons in
the Senate --
Unseen by him, she adds a little special powder to the drink from a vial secreted in her robe.
Leave the Senate to me. Don't
All I want is to be a good father to
my people. Why don't they
She goes to him.
Shhh. The tonic will help...
She takes a sip and then hands it to him.
Yes, just drink this down.
She sits on the edge of the bed. He drinks as:
I must take a firmer hand with them.
They must know their father can be
firm. As our father was firm with
Our father lost his way. His
mistake was believing the old songs
of the "Republic." We know better.
So let the Senate talk. They have
no real power.
Yes... yes... you always know the
way. You were always so wise in
(he takes her hand)
You know if I didn't have my duty to
Rome I think I should be an artist.
I should go away and paint pictures
of the sea and leave all the
politics to you...
A beat. He is sleepy, he lies back on his bed.
Will you stay with me?
Still afraid of the dark, brother?
My dreams would terrify the world.
I'll stay with you until you are
And after... just sit with me. Keep
He is asleep.
She watches him for a moment and then rises.
INT. PALACE - HALLWAY - NIGHT
Lucilla moves down a long corridor in the palace and blows ut candles as she goes.
She finally arrives at her own chamber and enters...
INT. PALACE - LUCILLA'S CHAMBERS - NIGHT
Senators Gracchus and Gaius and Captain Marcellus are waiting.
He's asleep. Be quick.
We've taking a sounding, the Senate
is with us.
But we are only words. We are air.
We need steel.
The City Guard is faithful to the
Republic. But we don't stand a
chance against the Praetorians.
Can they be bought?
They are zealots -- totally
committed to your brother.
Well, can they at least be rented
for a day?
I doubt it. He pays them exorbitant
salaries and lets them loot and
extort as they see fit. The city
belongs to them.
And they've started arresting
scholars now. Anyone who dares
speak out -- even satirists and
And mathematicians and Christians.
All to fill the arena.
And what pays for it? These games
are costing a fortune and yet we
have no new taxes.
The future. The future pays for
A beat. She looks at them.
He's started selling the grain
That can't be true...
He's selling Rome's reserves of
grain. The people will be starving
in two years. I hope they are
enjoying the spectacles because soon
enough they will be dead because of
Rome must know this.
And who will tell them?! You,
Marcellus? You, Senator Gaius?
Will you make a speech on the Senate
floor denouncing my brother? And
then see your family in the
Colosseum? What town-crier would
A long beat.
He must die.
A beat as her words sink in.
The Praetorians would only seize
No -- cut off the head and the snake
Lucilla, Gaius is right. Until the
City Guard can neutralize the
Praetorians we can accomplish
And I haven't enough men.
What about the army?
No Roman army has entered the
capital in a hundred years.
So we do nothing?!
A door opens, a voice...
An eight-year-old boy stands in a doorway, sleepy. He is LUCIUS, Lucilla's son.
I heard voices...
(going to him)
It's all right, darling, you --
Lucius suddenly notices Senator Gracchus:
(running to Gracchus)
Senator! What did you bring me?!
He leaps onto Gracchus -- Gracchus laughs and pulls something from his robe.
For you prince Lucius... a sea
Gracchus gives Lucius a beautifully painted toy of a sea serpent.
Off the coast of Achaea they grow
twenty times this size, with
snapping teeth to devour any nasty
Praetorians they come across... now,
where is Achaea?
Show me on the map.
Lucius runs to a map and stabs his finger at Achaea. We sense this is an old game between them.
Lucius, you go in now, I'll be in
Thank you, Senator Mountain!
You're welcome, Prince Anthill!
Lucius goes. Lucilla shuts the door after him. A moment. She turns to the others, a deep anguish in her eyes.
What are you going to do?
Gracchus goes to her, holds her.
Peace child... One dark night the
Gods will light our path. They will
give us the voice we need. Have
faith in that. Have faith.
INT./ EXT. ROMAN STREETS - SLAVE WAGON - NIGHT
Maximus cranes for a sight of the Eternal City through a hole in the wooden slats that cover the slave cart.
He can see only glimpses of Rome as they pass. But the images are not what he expected. Alongside the undeniable glory of the city, the madness and disease Marcus Aurelius spoke of are readily apparent.
Maximus sees flashes of plague victims being tossed on carts heaped with bodies -- he sees getting and spending and commerce everywhere -- he sees fascist Praetorian Guard units trooping past -- he sees the magnificent architecture of the city -- he sees starving children begging from filthy gutters -- he sees rich citizens out for a stroll -- he sees a swirling combination of sophistication and depravity, of civilization and corruption.
He sits back in the cart, deep in thought. Vibius looks at him.
Not what you expected?
Rome is nothing but a slaughter
house. And we are the meat.
EXT. PROXIMO'S COMPOUND - NIGHT
The slave wagon pulls up to Proximo's rather grand Roman compound. Guards unlock imposing gates and the wagon drives in...
EXT. PROXIMO'S COMPOUND - COURTYARD - NIGHT
Inside the gates is a large courtyard, much like Proximo's Moroccan school but much more impressive. A fountain with an enormous statue of the war god Mars is central in the courtyard.
The gladiators climb from the wagon, stretching after the long journey. Vibius leads Maximus and Juba to the statue. He wades through the fountain and kisses the toe of Mars.
Tradition. He watches over us.
Juba steps up and kisses the toe.
Oh go on, it won't kill you.
Maximus kisses the toe as well.
(calling to them)
Stop that! You'll get some
monstrous disease and then you'll be
worth nothing to me!
Guards come and lead them to their cells, which line one side of the courtyard.
INT. PROXIMO'S COMPOUND - CELL - NIGHT
Later. Maximus and Juba again share a cell. It is more comfortable than their cell in Morocco, befitting Maximus' new status as one of the "stars." A high, barred window on one wall opens to the city. Another barred window is directly over them, twenty feet above.
Maximus pulls himself up to the side window, he looks out.
And sees at last... The Colosseum.
It is a breathtaking sight. Monolithic Albert Speer-like columns of light shine up from the Colosseum. It seems to illuminate the whole city and the heavens above.
Maximus drops back to the floor.
Do you think it will be much
different? Here in Rome?
Bigger arena. Same killing.
Are you scared for tomorrow?
I never though it would be so easy
So you're finally home.
This isn't my home.
For all Romans... this is home.
Among my people we honor the soil of
our home. Our ancestors are in that
soil. All their dreams live there.
I will never see my home again. The
soil is dead and no one honors them,
so the dreams die.
Perhaps one day you'll return.
Juba looks at him.
How can I go back? I am not what I
was. When a man kills for no
reason, he has lost himself.
A long beat.
Juba leans his head back and quietly begins to sing. A haunting lament in his native tongue.
EXT. COLOSSEUM - DAY
A flurry of images from around the Colosseum, the energy mounting. At this point we see practically nothing of the inside of the Colosseum:
Slaves are balancing high above the empty arena. They are on ropes unrolling huge rolls of muslin; sun tarps that provide shade below...
Merchants open stalls in the curved arcade around outside of the Colosseum. They sell everything from food to magic elixirs, from toys to aphrodisiacs. They immediately start declaiming and demonstrating the virtues of their products...
Gangs of whores of both sexes trawl the streets. They have bizarrely-colored hair and elaborate makeup...
Citizens begin arriving, pushing past the vendors and the pickpockets. We see whole families with picnic lunches...
Ferocious animals are brought into the Colosseum in barred cages...
In the busy arcade, barbers and blood-letters practice their craft alongside exotic alchemists, fire eaters and contortionists...
Richer citizens arrive in sedan chairs and chariots, they feign indifference to the hooting mob...
Mounted City Guard police units try to retain some order...
Gamblers crowd betting booths and haggle mercilessly...
Finally, we see Maximus and the other gladiators in a slave cart. Maximus watches everything as the slave cart disappears into the Colosseum...
INT. COLOSSEUM - ROUTE TO HOLDING CELLS - DAY
The interior of the Colosseum is a busy world unto itself.
Maximus and the others are lead by Proximo's guards down a long ramp and past countless animal cages. Gamblers circulate everywhere and observe the warriors, angling for the best odds and the best matches.
Maximus and the others are led even deeper into the bowels of the Colosseum to a new whole subterranean realm. Numerous cells line the walls. Racks and racks of weaponry and armor.
And, most striking, everywhere around them is the heavy machinery of the spectacles above. Huge "elevator" platforms and ramps and pulleys and counterweights are manned by teams of sweating slaves.
INT. COLOSSEUM - HOLDING CELLS - DAY
Finally, Proximo's guards lead the gladiators to their holding cells. These cells are right at the edge of the arena. Barred windows offer a sand-level view of the action.
Maximus immediately goes to a window and looks out.
He cannot see much of the entire arena, but what he does see transfixes him.
A band of Christians are huddled together. An eerie silence from the Colosseum but for the prayers of the Christians.
Maximus watches them. One little girl peels past her mother's arm. She sees Maximus. She smiles.
Suddenly a dozen ferocious lions race up a ramp by Maximus -- they roar into the arena --
We do not see the carnage. We watch Maximus' face as we hear the sounds of the slaughter.
And the sound of the roaring crowd.
Maximus finally cannot watch. He drops his head.
INT. COLOSSEUM - TRAINER'S LAIR - DAY
Proximo is with a dozen other gladiator trainers and the Colosseum's orator and majordomo, CASSIUS. They are haggling in an secluded area not far from the arena itself. Huge chalkboards chart the day's matches and wagers and odds.
Colosseum touts continually erase and mark new figures on the chalkboards to keep up with the swiftly changing bouts.
The roar of the lions and the unnerving screams of the Christians can clearly be heard.
... and the Emperor will have no
more animal battles today --
Upset roars from some of the trainers.
You promised me a bear match,
I have ten damned gorillas! You
said gorillas yesterday!
Talk to the man in the imperial box.
Who has the next slot...?
(he checks the boards)
-- Lentulus, Gideon, Trebonius and
-- Nice to have you back, you
piratical bastard -- now listen, the
Emperor wants the Carthage
The four trainers explode in a flurry of resistance --
No -- have pity, Cassius -- !
My men are too good for -- !
You give us the Carthage match or
lose your spot on the rotation --
but don't worry -- gold is flowing
from the Emperor's fingers.
It'll cost you --
I won't do it for less than 100,000
sesterces -- !
120,000! All I have is my best
And I want to see this famous
Spaniard of yours -- his reputation
soars from the provinces. The
people are eager for him --
I won't throw my Spaniard into a
spectacle! Damn you and damn the
You will and the price will be
90,000 sesterces each --
-- which you all know is exorbitant
-- AND IF YOU EXTORTING BLOOD-WHORES
TRY TO PAWN OFF LESSER FIGHTERS ON
ME I WILL SEE YOU DEAD IN THE ARENA
My Thracians are worth -- !
Give me your best, brothers. They
die before Caesar.
He strides back to the arena. The touts instantly begin making new marks on the boards to represent the mysterious "Carthage Spectacle" as some of the trainers hurry out.
Proximo walks with Trainer #4:
I give you 30,000 my Spaniard will
kill at least one of your Thracians.
30,000?! On a Spaniard?! That
provincial sun has curdled your
Then make the wager, you smug
They disappear down a dark corridor, negotiating all the while.
INT. COLOSSEUM - HOLDING CELLS - DAY
Maximus, Juba, Vibius and another of Proximo's gladiators are being armed. They all wear mask-like helmets.
Proximo hurries to them.
All right -- there are three other
teams, four men each --
You know what a Thracian looks like?
Yes, but --
Ignore the others -- go for the
Thracians. The sun is to the east
-- over the gate -- keep your back
to the gate and you won't have the
What -- ?
Trumpets begin sounding from the arena.
Hurry -- !
The guards quickly bustle the four toward a gate leading to a dark tunnel to the arena.
Die well and we'll sing songs about
you for a generation.
Short swords are shoved into their hands and the gate rises. They are pushed into the dark tunnel leading to the arena. The gate closes behind them.
The four gladiators stand for a moment and then slowly walk down the tunnel to...