Upon the sudden death of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, his trusted and successful general Narcissus Meridas is unlawfully imprisoned and condemned to the gladiator games by Marcus's twisted son Commodus.
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Drawing its inspiration from Anthony Mann's 'The Fall of the Roman Empire' (1964) and Stanley Kubrick's 'Spartacus' (1960), Ridley Scott's Oscar-winning take on the Roman epic lavishes the genre with the very latest in computer-generated effects technology. After the death of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris), Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) betrays the Emperor's beloved General Maximus (Russell Crowe) and takes the throne for himself. Maximus is sold as a slave and then trained as a gladiator, keeping himself strong with thoughts of revenge. Eventually he is taken to the Colosseum, where he prepares to fight in a contest presided over by the corrupt Commodus. Will he suffer the ultimate humiliation and die for the entertainment of his enemy or will he survive the rigors of the arena and find a way of exacting his revenge?