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Gladiator is a 2000 historical action/drama film directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix. Crowe portrays the loyal General Maximus Decimus Meridius, who is betrayed when the Emperor’s ambitious son Commodus (Phoenix) murders his father and seizes the throne. Reduced to slavery, Maximus rises through the ranks of the gladiatorial arena to avenge the murder of his family and his Emperor.

The film won five Academy Awards in the 73rd Academy Awards ceremony, including the Academy Award for Best Picture. While Gladiator was criticized by historians for its historical inaccuracies, its epic scope and intense battle scenes won praise. Gladiator was released in 2000, thirty-six years after the last historical epic, The Fall of the Roman Empire. The film’s success may have helped to revive the historical epic genre, with subsequent films such as Troy, Alexander, 300 and Kingdom of Heaven, the last of which was also directed by Scott.

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