Gladiator is the greatest popular historic film describing remarkable period of Roman Empire and showing strong emotions and great contradicting feelings of the main character Maximus. His will, strength, energy and cruelty at the same time are depicted to convey patriotic feelings to the audience. Despite the fact that the patriotism adorns Maximus, it is vivid that he suffers a lot being such a patriotic warrior. A famous writer Bernard George Shaw expresses his opinion on patriotism which is the best illustration of Gladiator’s idea: “You will never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race” (Shaw, 1).
Consequently, the patriotism can be viewed as a big human vice which bothers to live in peace and happiness. The gladiator Maximus, and the general in one person, embodies the greatest Roman patriotism, in the name of which he sacrifices his wife and son, loses his liberty and wastes his precious life.
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The patriotism as love towards the native land requires complete devotion and self-sacrifice.
In fact, the film Gladiator shows such devotion on the example of the life of the general Maximus and other warriors fighting together with him and having the same life position. As a rule, it is not possible to love motherland and own family equally and at the same time. Sooner or later, you have to choose what is more important to you. The main character tries to love both, however, fails. Due to the patriotism Maximus loses his family which means everything to him. Having chosen the path of motherland protector and Caesar’s successor, Maximus cannot protect his family anymore. He is completely devoted to Rome and considers it to be the light in all his life.
Judging from the scene where the general tells about his home and loving family to Caesar, it becomes clear that the family is his great value and happiness. However, the patriotism grown in his heart ruins his happiness and makes him dependant upon his people and native land. Moreover, being a strong patriot Maximus tries to fulfill Caesar’s last wish and struggles for Rome and its people till the death, in spite of personal interests and not seeing his family for “2 years and 264 days”.
It means that the interests of the empire are above his personal interests as well as above his love towards his family. Having accepted the role of fatherland protector, the gladiator finds his wife and son burnt and hanged for his desire to serve to Rome and patriotism. What is more, such barbarity does not stop Maximus; on the contrary, it excites his patriotic feelings considerably and makes him desperate and violent in his following fighting. Within the whole film we see how patriotic feelings of the main character are turning into hatred and contempt. Thus we can observe the conflict of interests in the film resolution of which shows that the patriotism eliminates love and family, herewith, gives birth to cruelty and revenge.
In all centuries, liberty has been considered and it is still considered to be the most significant quality and value which can be possessed by a human-being.
Everyone struggles for it and once received tries to keep it forever. Therefore, the film Gladiator shows us miserable people who were not able to preserve their liberties and became deprived gladiators. They are slaves who lost their rights and liberties because of patriotic spirits and desire to fight for truth and fatherland. It is weird to see those huge strong men who are merely the toys or puppets in the hands of their owners and enemies. Gladiators’ life is reduced to bringing entertainment and bright bleeding show to the audience.
What is even weirder is that such loss of liberty is not because of hard destiny or evil, it is the result of their own patriotic dedication and loyalty, their will and desire to serve Rome. Special attention should be paid at the fact that even absence of liberty does not make the gladiators lose their feelings of patriotism. Being put into irons, Maximus stays to be faithful to Rome and due to this he feels free in the heart. He lives to serve his empire and people receiving back only respect from them. However, his total self-sacrifice does not make him free and he stays a slave till the death. Although the problem of liberty and slavery concerns little today, more attention should be paid to it. The film Gladiator outlines not only physical dependence, but also a moral one.
The latter is even harder since it is engraved deep in mind and reveals as the patriotism.
The patriotism and heroic death are inseparable and inevitable in fighting for native land. Excessive patriotism gives rise to the growth of hatred which leads to self-destruction. Consequently, the result of patriotic feelings is the loss of life.
In the analyzed film we see that the patriotism of gladiator Maximus, except resulting in the loss of family, happiness and liberty, deprives him of his heroic life. No doubts, in other case he would not be a hero and patriot. Till the last seconds of his life the general is fighting for Rome but not for his own life and liberty.
Maximus is obsessed with allegiance which brings him death. His desire to return Rome to people makes not only die, but also makes away his wife and son. His life is limited to blind patriotism which is in fighting and dying for Rome.
Paradoxically, even death of the gladiator Maximus hasn’t made him free and hasn’t brought liberty to him. He stays a slave since he is to serve Rome eternally and he will be remembered as a gladiator dying for his fatherland not a general fighting for his land and people. This striking issue is successfully depicted in the final scene of Maximus’s fight at Coliseum. In addition to the list of striking problems depicted in the analyzed film, there is an urgent issue which is to be resolved by the audience individually.
What is life and what we are living for? Seeing Maximus who lives only to carry out patriotic fighting for native land, it is makes clear that patriotism in war is only brutal need and loss of liberty. All in all, the film Gladiator is the most successful show transferring deep feelings, thoughts and ideas for each. Live or die, defeat or win does not change a lot but gives possibility to be realized and define what life is for you.
Making up a conclusion, it should be highlighted that well-known and excellent film Gladiator is a great and bright example of patriotism.
It may seem that this film is simple and just entertaining, however, if you look deeper you will see that it illustrates a number of crucial issues and amazes with urgent problematic questions of all generations. By means of excellently shot scenes and interesting plot, the analyzed film conveys the problem of patriotism and its consequences. It outlines importance of values in our life and shows us detrimental consequences of heroic dedicated patriotism. Thus the film Gladiator is a bright illustration of the fatal power of patriotism. This striking idea makes us think of what patriotism is in reality and whether it is worth living in our hearts and minds. An urgent question arises: Is patriotism worth losing family, liberty and own life? The answer to this question is to be given individually; however, the film Gladiator suggests possible variants which are to be chosen personally.
Shaw, Bernard George.
Patriotism Quotes. Retrieved October 4, 2010, from