Movies reach me late here in Bangkok unless I’m interested enough to watch the first run in a theatre. In three years here I’ve gone to a theatre 3 times. Once for King Kong which was a bomb. Then two hits, The Pink Panther and War of the Worlds.
Gladiator is just now appearing on Thai TV. No amount of hype could have lured me to a theatre for that one. The whole theme, if you’ll pardon the expression, sounded gay. And sword fights bore me. One exception was Val Kilmer’s first sword fight in Troy. That was unique and interesting, especially with all the build-up. It was also probably very close to the real thing.
Gladiator was pretty interesting though and carried me along. Russell Crowe was convincing. It was, in general, a Class A, half-naked-man, flick until it hit a road block. The road block was how to kill off Caesar and gain Crowe his revenge.
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when the discussion of that story-line took place. Here is how I imagine it might have gone:
The MoneyMan says, “We have to have Caesar killed in front of the whole populace of Rome. That would be satisfying. That’s the money shot. That will give us a great ending.”
The Writer/Director (a composite for my purpose here) asks, “How can we manage that?”
MM: “Put him in the Coloseum with Crowe in front of everybody. That would be great.
W/D: “But how do we get the emperor to do that? Crowe is the greatest gladiator in the empire. He kills several at a time. He kills lions one on one.”
MM: “Caesar gets jealous of Crowe’s fame and decides to challenge him. Something like that. You guys can figure it out. Just write it.”
W/D: “But we’ve made Caesar to be a coward up to here. He kills people by poison. He’s kind of,” (shows a limp wrist), “you know, weak.’
MM (Standing up, challenging): “There’s prejudice in this room against gay people?”
W/D: “No, no. We’re just saying it’s out of character. It’s not in keeping with all the film we’ve shot so far.”
MM: “Well so what? He changes. People change. Now he challenges Crowe and fights him in the Coliseum.”
W/D: “I don’t know.’
MM: “Well if you can’t do it, I’ll get someone who can.”
W/D (Reluctantly): “We can do it. We just don’t want the picture to look stupid.”
MM: “There’s no such thing as a stupid movie. There are only stupid audiences.”
Well, that’s my view of what may have happened. But what do I know? It went on to win 5 Oscars including best picture.