gladiator - The Classical Narrative Style and Ridley...

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The Classical Narrative Style and Ridley Scott’s Gladiator “What we do in life echoes an eternity.” This classic line from Ridley Scott’s 2000 movie “Gladiator” can be used for many aspects of life, not just the rise, fall, and return of a great general. What the previous directors like Hitchcock, Welles, and Hawks did in their movies regarding narration and style has lasted into the modern era and is applicable to “Gladiator.” Belton states in American Cinema, American Culture that: “Narrative process follows an orderly pattern in which an initial state of affairs is introduced, after which something occurs to disturb this equilibrium. Subsequent events attempt to restore the original status quo, but this is repeatedly frustrated, and order is recovered only at the end of the film” (24). In the explanation of the classical narrative process, Belton describes three parts: the initial state of affairs, disturbance to the initial state, and finally order achieved at the end of the film. But of course, a film does not simply consist of its plot; the supporting aspect of the film that help to add to the narration is the style used to convey each part. In Maximus’ journey, stylistic aspects like lighting, costuming, sound and music, camera work and editing all add substance to “Gladiator’s” three pieces of the classical narrative style. “Gladiator” can be broken down into three segments that apply nicely to the classical narrative style. The first segment, where the “character at the center of the action” (25), as Belton calls it, is in his initial state of affairs. Maximus (Russell Crowe)
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is a highly respected general who has won many battles and is loved by his emperor Marcus Aurelius. This first segment takes place in Germania, where the last of the barbarian horde is defeated and there is much rejoicing. But this is not the initial scene of the movie; the editors chose to add a scene of Maximus walking through a wheat field, with the camera focused only on his hand. While this scene may seem simple, it employs the classical economy that Belton mentions: each aspect of the scene is for a purpose and used at various parts throughout the film. The main focus of the hand is the wedding ring, and the haunting music in the background is used throughout the film, but only when Maximus’ family is mentioned. The editors also used very abrupt scene transitions to
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This note was uploaded on 03/30/2008 for the course COMM 150H taught by Professor Lynn-elliot,jamie during the Spring '06 term at Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

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gladiator - The Classical Narrative Style and Ridley...

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