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Gladiator’s Most Iconic Shot Was A Last Minute Addition & Never Planned-TGN

Summary

  • Ridley Scott reveals that the wheat field scenes in Gladiator were not originally planned and that they were actually a last-minute addition.
  • On the last day of shooting, Scott was struck by the way Russell Crowe’s body double was moving through a wheat field, and he decided to film it.
  • The recurring wheat field motif throughout the movie adds depth to Maximus’ character and helps to bring his story full-circle, with his death not a tragedy but rather the final step before he can finally find peace.


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Gladiator director Ridley Scott explains how the film’s most iconic shot came about, and it was a total accident. Released in 2000, the sword-and-sandal flick remains one of Scott’s most acclaimed films, starring Russell Crowe as Maximus, a Roman general who pursues vengeance after his family is killed and he is sold into slavery. While there are many memorable moments from Gladiator, the most iconic shot of the film is undoubtedly Maximux gliding his hand across stalks of wheat in a sprawling field, an image representing the afterlife.

Now, as the wait continues for Scott’s Gladiator 2, the director reveals in a recent interview with Deadline that Gladiator‘s hand-grazing-the-wheat scene from the first film wasn’t actually planned. What’s more, it’s not even Crowe in the scene. Check out Scott’s full comment below:

“I shot that hand it was the last shot of principal photography. Russell didn’t come to Italy, it was his double. The guy was standing there in this field, smoking. I go, get out of the field, are you joking? It was mid-summer, dry. He says, ‘Oh, sorry man.’ He walked out (off the field), and did that thing with the hand. I said, ‘Stop right there. Get the Steadicam.’

“We followed the hand, no kidding. It became the catalyst for immortality, or heaven if you like, right there. It was discovered the last day, spontaneously. I consider spontaneity to be essential to what I do, you’ve always got to be watching. That’s not on paper. And so suddenly that becomes the editing room and then the theme happens. The theme is magic, and the hand is magic.

“Russell didn’t come to Italy, that’s his double. He said, you’ll never use that. I said, I will. When he saw the scene, he groaned. I said, too late, It’s shot. I got it, mate. It was, put out that cigarette and get the Steadicam. And don’t walk on the wheat.”


Why Gladiator’s Wheat Field Scene Is So Memorable

At various points throughout the movie, audiences are treated to the now-iconic scene of Maximus in the wheat, but its real meaning isn’t really apparent until Gladiator‘s emotional ending. After facing off against and defeating Joaquin Phoenix’s villain, Commodus, in the climax, Maximus succumbs to his wounds. Although he dies, the wheat field scene suggests that Maximus is finally at peace, reunited with his family in the afterlife after so much violence.

The scene serves to make Gladiator‘s ending less tragic, and the motif’s recurrence throughout the movie provides an insight into Maximus’ state of mind and what “peace,” to him, actually looks like. Versions of the wheat field scene serve as bookends to the film, and they help to bring Maximus’ story full-circle. What’s more, the inclusion of scenes in the afterlife adds to Gladiator‘s mythology, contributing to the grandiosity of the story and making it feel like an ancient Roman legend that’s been passed down through the generations.

The impact of the wheat field scene also, of course, can’t be discussed without mentioning Han Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard’s iconic Gladiator score. The visuals are accompanied by a piece of music that adds to the scene’s emotion, and it remains one of the most memorable pieces of music from the film. With a sequel now on the way, it remains to be seen whether Scott will once again feature a visualization of the afterlife.

Source: Deadline

  • Gladiator's Most Iconic Shot Was A Last Minute Addition & Never Planned-TGN

    Gladiator

    Release Date:
    2000-05-05

    Director:
    Ridley Scott

    Cast:
    Russell Crowe, Derek Jacobi, Oliver Reed, Connie Nielsen, Joaquin Phoenix, Djimon Hounsou, Richard Harris

    Rating:
    R

    Runtime:
    155 minutes

    Genres:
    Action, Drama, Epic, History

    Writers:
    William Nicholson, John Logan, David Franzoni

    Summary:
    A former Roman General sets out to exact vengeance against the corrupt emperor who murdered his family and sent him into slavery.

    Story By:
    David Franzoni

    Budget:
    $103 million

    Studio(s):
    DreamWorks Distribution, Universal Pictures, Scott Free Productions, Red Wagon Entertainment

    Distributor(s):
    DreamWorks Distribution, Universal Pictures

    Sequel(s):
    Gladiator 2

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