Seán Easton runs a great blog about the echoes and themes of Classics in modern media, Centuries Coexist. He teaches at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota.
Ridley Scott’s Gladiator is widely (and accurately) seen as the combination and recreation of Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus (1960) and Anthony Mann’s Fall of the Roman Empire (1966). Important parts of the the beginning and ending of Scott’s film, however, are modeled on Kubrick’s World War I film Paths of Glory. Scott borrows from Paths of Glory in part because that film offers him models for the sort of character and issue that he is concerned with in Gladiator. Also, I believe Scott is engaging in a polemic with Kubrick’s anti-war message. Gladiator‘s allusions to Paths of Glory footnote Scott’s debt to the earlier film, but they also serve to distinguish what he is doing from what Kubrick did.
In Paths of Glory, Kirk Douglas’ Col. Dax is a just and courageous man. He leads his troops in battle, sharing the danger, and does not care about career or laurels. In this regard, he is very much like Maximus in
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