Gladiator (2000) - Extended Edition

Genre(s): Action / Drama / Historical Epic / War
DreamWorks || Unrated - 171 minutes - $39.98 || August 23, 2005
Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2005-08-19


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer(s): David Franzoni (story), David Franzoni (screenplay) and John Logan (screenplay) and William Nicholson (screenplay)
Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielson, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou


Theatrical Release Date: May 5, 2000


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:

    Disc 1:
  • Extended Cut (171-Minutes)
  • Theatrical Version (155-Minutes)
  • Introduction by Ridley Scott
  • Director & Actor Commentary
  • Trivia Track
  • Deleted Footage Marker


  • Disc 2:
  • Strength and Honor: Creating the World of Gladiator Documentary


  • Disc 3:
  • Production Design Featurette and Gallery
  • Storyboard Demonstrations
  • Abandoned Sequences
  • Ridleygrams: Ridley Scott's Own Sketches
  • Costume Design Gallery
  • Photo Galleries
  • Deleted Scenes including Alternate Opening Title
  • Letters from the Front: Authentic Memos


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Released just over 5 years ago, Gladiator surprised audiences worldwide and became a massive hit (grossing $460 million worldwide) and garnering critical acclaim by winning 5 academy awards as well. Gladiator became one of those rare films that was able to be a great crowd pleaser as well as a big awards winner. Not only that, the film also ignited interest back in the historical epics of old Hollywood. Since Gladiator’s release just over 5 years ago, we’ve seen films such as Master and Commander, Troy, King Arthur, Alexander, The Last Samurai, The Alamo, The Scorpion King, and Ridley Scott’s own Kingdom of Heaven get made. Master and Commander is the only film that even came close to approaching Gladiator’s quality and ability to capture awards attention. But still, the film was not able to achieve Gladiator’s huge box office success.

The film itself instantly became one of my all time favorite films and after many viewings, now is my favorite film of all time. The film is able to mix great action sequences with great storytelling and acting. Of course, Russell Crowe comes to mind when anyone mentions Gladiator and it is no secret why. His range in this film as Maximus is simply incredible. He goes from playing a general at the height of the Roman Empire, to a common slave and then to a Gladiator. After watching the film again, I can definitely see why Crowe was rightfully awarded Best Actor at the Academy Awards a few years back. I honestly can’t think any other actor on this planet who would be able to pull off what Crowe did in this film. Crowe was able to create a character that will go down as one of the most memorable of all time. In addition to Crowe’s spectacular performance, there is also Joaquin Phoenix’s unbelievable performance as Commodus. Phoenix too is able to give a multi-layered performance that plays off of Crowe’s Maximus beautifully. In addition to Crowe and Phoenix, Richard Harris, Oliver Reed, Connie Nielsen, Djimon Hounsou, Derek Jacobi, and David Hemmings all turn in amazing performances. To me, this film is the definition of a great ensemble piece of acting.

Of course, the film is also incredibly directed by Ridley Scott. I don’t think any other director in the world would be able to do what Scott did with Gladiator. His attention to detail and overall visual style gives Gladiator a unique look. I still am trying to figure out how Scott did not win Best Director for this film at the Academy Awards. The unique story by David Franzoni, John Logan and William Nicholson is also another great aspect of the film. In addition to Scott’s incredible directing and the great story, you have Pietro Scalia’s great editing style, Arthur Max’s incredible set designs, Janty Yates’ beautiful costumes, John Mathieson’s great cinematography and of course Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard’s memorable original score. The combination of the incredibly talented actors, along with Ridley Scott’s crew, created Gladiator’s atmosphere and overall success which recently many have attempted to mimic, but none were able to do as successfully.

Now, many years after the original DVD release for Gladiator, Dreamworks/Universal have decided to release an incredible 3 Disc Extended Edition of the film. The original DVD released back in November of 2000, instantly became the fastest selling DVD of all time and was the first major film to release a 2 Disc special edition (which is now very common among DVD releases). The DVD is also credited with igniting the interest in the general public’s awareness on DVD’s in general and helped create a huge multi-billion dollar worldwide industry.

The extended edition of the DVD still has the greatness of the original, but now with even more character development. All the scenes added are directly from the deleted scenes that were included in the original 2 Disc DVD that was released a few years ago. However, a few of those deleted scenes included in the original (like the Christians being fed to the Lions) are not included in the extended edition. Nonetheless, it is nice to see all the scenes redone from a video standpoint and included in the film itself. One of my favorite scenes in the extended edition is the scene between Commodus and Quintus after Commodus finds out that Maximus is alive. Commodus orders Quintus to execute the two in charge of reporting back that Maximus was dead. The scene has a great deal of tension and adds even more to Phoenix’s amazing performance. Overall, the extended edition never takes away from the overall pace of the film and I believe big fans of the will enjoy this edition just as much as the original.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

DISC 1:
The first disc of the DVD includes the original 155 minute cut of the film as well as the new extended edition which runs about 18 minutes longer. Many of these director’s cuts and extended edition DVD’s don’t include the original version, so it was nice to see that they did include it in this DVD package.

The first disc also includes a commentary by Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott, but only if you select the extended edition. Crowe begins the commentary by being very anxious and cutting in on Ridley Scott, which is understandable because it is his first DVD commentary. Nevertheless, after a few minutes, Crowe settles in and provides a great commentary with Scott. They both discuss various memories they have for certain scenes, problems they encountered during the filming as well as stories they remember during the production of the film. This commentary is a lot more upbeat and fun to listen to than the old commentary Ridley Scott, Arthur Max and John Mathieson, which was more technically focused.

The extended edition also includes an “Are You Not Entertained?” trivia track that plays during the film. It’s a fun addition to the film and big fans of the film will enjoy it. The trivia track discusses everything from the historical references and characters in the film, as well as more background to cast and crew of the film. Various quotes from the cast and crew are also included in the trivia track. An interesting addition to the trivia track is that it shows you where the extended scenes are in the film by turning the trivia track red, signifying a deleted scene. The DVD also includes a similar “Deleted Scenes Marker,” that you can access without using the trivia track.

DISC 2:
The second disc is entirely a massive documentary titled “Strength and Honor: Creating the World of Gladiator.” It runs about 3 hours and 20 minutes and is easily one of the best and most comprehensive documentaries I have ever seen on the making of a film. The documentary is split into 7 different categories each focusing on a particular aspect of pre-production, production and even post-production of the film. I’ll give a brief description of each chapter:

The first is “Tales of the Scribes”: Story Development. It runs about 34 minutes and focuses on how the story was created and how many writers collaborated on the final draft of the script. Writer/Producer David Franzoni discusses how he got the idea for the film initially and how his version was different that the one that we see in the film. It is interesting to watch because one gets to see the many changes made to the film and how different the film would have been had they kept some of those original ideas. Director Ridley Scott, producer Walter F. Parkes and screenwriter William Nicholson also discuss how they contributed to the final story.

The second is “The Tools of War”: Weapons. This chapter runs about 13 minutes and focuses mainly on the creation of the thousands of weapons used on the film. The Supervising Armorer, Simon Atherthon, talks about how he created the armor for the film. He mentions that there wasn’t much information on the time period so a lot of the shields, spears, arrows and swords had to be created from what they thought it would look like.

The third chapter is “Attire of the Realm”: Costume Design. The costume designer for Gladiator, Janty Yates, discusses the various costumes she had to create for the film. It runs about 20 minutes long and is very interesting to watch because you get to see how she custom made the armor and costumes for the actors. It is easy to see why she won the Oscar for costume design for this film. You also get to see how she individualizes the costumes and how elaborately detailed the costumes are.

The fourth portion runs about 66 minutes and is titled “The Heat of Battle”: 3 Production Journal Featurettes. The featurette is split into three categories: Germania, Morocco and Rome. In the “Germania” portion, Ridley Scott along with the crew, discuss the location along with the challenges in creating the impressive opening sequence of the film. In “Morocco,” the stunts needed for the first gladiator fight is discussed in great detail. You get to hear from the fight choreographer, Nick Powell. You also get to see how Russell Crowe and Djimon Hounsou worked very hard and paid attention to detail to make sure they had all the moves down. In “Rome,” the massive sets as well as the stunts and visual effects used in the “Tiger Fight” are discussed. It is fascinating to watch because Ridley Scott discusses the various techniques he used to make the Colosseum look bigger than it actually was. It’s also very remarkable to see how much detail went into creating the “Tiger Fight” in terms of visual effects, stunts, choreography and directing.

The fifth portion is called “Resurrecting Proximo”: Digitally Salvaged Scenes with actor Oliver Reed. This one runs about 24 minutes and is probably my favorite portion of the documentary because I was always interested in how they were able to finish Oliver Reed’s scenes for the film. It’s amazing to see what techniques editor Pietro Scalia and visual effects supervisor John Nelson used to try and finish up Reed’s final scenes.

The sixth chapter is called “The Glory of Rome”: Oscar Winning Visual Effects. This one runs 20 minutes and talks about how much the visual effects for this film worked as a supporting actor. You get to see how the visual effects aided in the overall visual style and how they helped Ridley Scott create the world of ancient Rome. The most fascinating part to me was how they created the Colosseum and how much detail went into creating the scenes in the arena.

The seventh and final portion of the documentary is called “Echoes In Eternity”: The film's release and global impact. This featurette is about 19 minutes long and focuses on how the film was such a surprise hit with audiences and critics. The cast and crew all discuss how the films success changed their lives and how they all felt during Oscar night after the big win for Best Picture. They also discuss how the films success inspired studios to take more chances in green lighting historical epics.

DISC 3:
The third disc focuses more on the image and design of the film. The disc begins with the option of selecting “Image and Design” or “Supplemental Archive.”

The “Image and Design” portion is split into four sections: Production Design, Storyboarding, Costume Design Gallery and Photo Galleries.

In the “Production Design” section there is a short 10 minute featurette on the sets and overall art direction in the film. Arthur Max discusses in even more detail how they created the sets for the film. You can also access a Production Design Gallery which includes many photos of the sets.

In the “Storyboarding” section there is a 13 minute featurette hosted by storyboard artist Sylvain Despretz. He designs two storyboards for two frames of the film. It is very interesting to see how much detail goes into one frame of a storyboard. It gives the director so much visual representation without having to film a single scene. That also makes it clear why Ridley Scott puts so much emphasis on storyboards for his films. Also included in this section are multi-angle storyboard comparisons for three scenes: Germania Battlefront, Chain Fight and The Battle of Carthage. Each storyboard includes the option for a commentary by Sylvain Despretz. Finally, this portion also includes a “Storyboard Archive” of various scenes from the film as well as one alternate ending with Proximo (which was the original ending of the film).

The “Supplemental Archive” section is split into three sections: Alternate Scenes and Deleted Scenes, VFX Exploration: Germania and Rome, and finally Trailers and TV pots for the film.

The “Alternate Scenes and Deleted Scenes” portion includes a 9 minute featurette on the original opening title sequence for the film. Designer Nick Livesey discusses in great detail how he created the opening sequence for the film. Unfortunately the sequence had to be cut for running time reasons. Also included in this portion are storyboards for scenes that were not shot. The first is called “Blood Vision,” which shows Maximus having a vision of his family being murdered. There is an option to listen to Ridley Scott do a commentary on this scene and why it wasn’t done. The next scene is the “Rhino Fight,” which includes storyboards as well as preliminary CGI effects shots. There is also an option for a commentary, but this time by storyboard artist Sylvain Despretz. Finally, there is a deleted scene titled “Choose Your Weapon,” which runs bout 50 seconds long. It is not included in the extended edition and has never been seen. The scene itself is nothing special, but it’s nice to have on the DVD. The next section is “VFX Exploration: Germania and Rome,” which is a 24 minute featurette on the visual effects used for the opening battle sequence as well as the visual effects used for the scenes in ancient Rome. Visual effects supervisor John Nelson goes into great detail on the techniques used to give the film its overall look. Finally, the disc includes a teaser and well as a theatrical trailer for the film. Both were already included in the original 2 Disc DVD. However, this DVD includes 20 TV Spots for the film as well.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

The sound and picture on the film is as good as you’ll find on any film. Both editions of the film are shown in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen Presentation. The rich colors of the film are shown beautifully throughout. In terms of the audio, the DVD includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0 Stereo Tracks. However, the disc does not include the great DTS track included in the original DVD release. That is understandable because the DVD disc can only hold so much space and any increase on the audio would result on a reduction of the video quality. Nevertheless, the audio is still incredible.



.::OVERALL::.

Overall, this DVD is without a question of the best DVD packages ever put out. Even though the 2 Disc release was a great DVD, this 3 Disc Extended Edition works great as a supplement to that original release. Almost everything included in this 3 disc edition is new material not seen before, so to big fans of the film, it will be worth purchasing. It’s nice to see that Dreamworks/Universal put so much time into creating such a great DVD for such a great film. Virtually anything and everything you want to know about the film is included in the DVD. As I mentioned before, I would rank this DVD edition of Gladiator among the best DVD’s ever put out. This is a must purchase for fans of film as well as DVD collectors.