It’s Movie Geek Week, and this is Favourite Movie Moment #2.
GLADIATOR: MAXIMUS’ BIG REVEAL
Gladiator is one of my top three movies. Through brilliant writing, acting, and directing, this story radiates powerful and yet painful lessons on love, leadership, loyalty, and self-identity.
I remember the first time I took it all in, watching spellbound as Maximus gained a great victory in Germania for Rome. In the wake of the celebration, the Emperor is murdered by his treacherous son Commodus, who orders Maximus executed, along with his family.
My heart raced with Maximus across the sprawling countryside back to his home. I mourned with him as he found his family butchered by Commodus’ men on his farmstead. I cheered and marvelled as he rose in stature as a gladiator until that breathless moment when Commodus, the slime bag usurper of an Emperor, stepped into the arena to meet this mystery warrior (Maximus is hidden behind his mask):
Commodus: Your fame is well deserved, Spaniard. I don’t think there’s ever been a gladiator to match you. As for this young man, he insists you are Hector reborn. Or was it Hercules? Why doesn’t the hero reveal himself and tell us all your real name? You do have a name.
Maximus: My name is Gladiator.
[turns away from Commodus]
Commodus: How dare you show your back to me! Slave, you will remove your helmet and tell me your name.
Maximus: [removes helmet and turns around to face Commodus] My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.
Oh man. Do you see it?
Maximus’ mortal enemy doesn’t recognize him. He wonders aloud who this gladiator must be—some kind of hero, reincarnated? A demigod, perhaps? Who are you, mystery man?
I am gladiator. He turns his back in defiance. In a bold act of dignity. I am who I choose to be.
Now the fangs come out, the power struggle has begun. Slave, you will remove your helmet and tell me your name.
No, not a demigod. But not a slave, either.
My name—my full name, by the way—is Maximus Decimus Meridius. You have stripped me of my position, but I’m still who I am. You have murdered by family, but I’m still who I am. I am now in chains, but I am still who I am.
In fact, Maximus insists, I am still the Commander. Present tense. Still the General. Present tense. Still loyal servant to the true emperor. Not outwardly, but inwardly. You have taken nothing from me, I am still who I am.
His words rise like an incoming, unstoppable tide.
And then, the best part: I am still father. Present tense. Still husband, present tense. Yes, you killed them, but my love and my commitment will hold fast until the end of time and there is not a thing you can do about it. Your evil has ruined my life, but on another level, it has changed nothing. You are powerless, Commodus.
And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.
How can you not jump up and cheer, heart in your throat?
How much of my identity is pressed and shaped by the pressure, evil, and discouragement around me? Jesus would grab me by the scruff of my jacket and pull me close, so that I’m eyeball to eyeball with eternity himself, ablaze with passion for me. His love is unnervingly passionate.
“You are who you are, Brad. Danger can’t change that. Hardship can’t change that. The haters and doubters can’t change that. Your failures can’t change that. Tragedy can’t change that. No thing can…
But some one can. And that somebody is you. You can choose to be who you are, who I’ve made you to be—or you can choose to live as though you’re less than you are.
But I need you to be Brad, need you to stand fast, need you to be unflinchingly loyal to the people I’ve called you to love, come hell or high water. What say you?
So I rise.
I. Am. Brad. I will live my destiny, in this life AND the next.
What do you think? What’s your favourite movie moment?
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