Critique on Supervisory Techniques in Gladiator
In the 2000, the world has seen Gladiator, a really awaited movie that was directed by the legendary Ridley Scott. Apart from that, the movie was nominated at many film festivals and even won five Academy Awards the very same year. Based on historical events of the Roman Empire epoch, Gladiator tells us the story about such well-known human traits like courage, kindness, mercy, and jealousy. However, as every big movie full of events, especially historical ones, it needs special techniques. What are the main supervisor techniques then that were used in Gladiator? Which of the supervisory techniques were effective and which ones were not? How does a high stress environment like war or the emergency room affect supervisory techniques?
Gladiator can be surely considered as a complex movie. Different kinds of special techniques were used in order to create this masterpiece of cinematography. If one is a fan of the movie and the film production process on the whole, one will know that Ridley Scoot is well known for creating very vivid, close to natural, specific worlds. That is why, for instance, in Gladiator, the director has pictured the decadent times of the Roman Empire. It seems like Ridley Scott has seen the ancient capital as some big metropolis of the ancient times. The director with the help of what is called the bird’s-eyeview managed to make the Coliseum not only the centre of the city and its dominating part, but he also represented the monument as a view in the future. Moreover, the complexity of the movie lies in the complexity of its script. It needs to be mentioned that the script for Gladiator was re-written for many times. Ridley Scott planned to relieve the framework of not only those ancient times, but also the historic framework around the main character, Maximus. That is why, the first scriptwriter David Franzoni was changed after the first draft of the movie script. Ridley Scott then hired John Logan, whose first main decision regarding the plot was to kill off Maximus’s family. However, even after Logan’s review, the script was not finished yet. In his preparation for filming, Ridley Scott spent long several months in order to develop perfect storyboards and, as a result, the perfect scenario for Gladiator. Taking into consideration that Gladiator is a historical movie, different locations needs to be scouted in order to show, for instance, the difference between the power of the great Rome and the specifics of the other cities.
In order to get closer to the technique specialties, first of all, one needs to know that as to any other movie, computer-generated effects were added to Gladiator only after its filming. All in all, almost ninety visual effects shots were created specifically for Gladiator. In comparison to other historical movies, this amount could seem a small one; however, as many of us saw on the big screen, this fact did not put a crimp into its final variant. In the process of filming, there are several supervisors in every film production departments who are monitoring the whole process. For instance, while making a soundtrack for a movie, there is a special person, or music effects supervisor, who controls the process of creating scores and their implementing in the movies. In addition to this person, there are also visual effects supervisor, post-production supervisor, and even script supervisor. What can we call then supervisory techniques? Supervisory techniques in the movies are special methods and means that are used in production of the movie as well as in post-production.
In Gladiator, one can see the usage of these techniques almost in every moment of the movie. For instance, in order to create, as it was mentioned before, the great photorealistic Coliseum, Ridley Scott and his team used unique and intense aradiosity technique. However, according to the one of supervisors, this time to use aradiosity technique was much easier as Coliseum is not a moving object. According to this fact, to get perfect light was easier and the sun was used as the light source. With the help of aradiosity technique, the team did the computation on the whole Coliseum, stored light parts as the textures and then dimmed them in order to create the live image of the whole model. To retrieve the picture of ancient Rome, the filming team also created some digital extras. For instance, there were several slaves passing ropes to each other or the effect of the whole arena crowded. One more special technique that was used during filming was computer-generated imagery effects, for instance the moment when Maximus was fighting on the arena and tigers were jumping out one by one on the battlefield. In reality, all those tigers were at first filmed on the blue screen and only then composed to the scenes of fighting. The same thing was about creating the great crowd of the Coliseum.
Another special kind of techniques was about in using numerous combinations of close-ups and long shots in order to create the dramatic atmosphere of Rome in those times. Taking back again to the fight between Maximus and the big and strong gladiator, one can see and hear in this scene crowd’s shouting, two warriors fighting and the Emperor’s reactions. For instance, when the big and strong gladiator is at Maximus’s feet waiting for his death to come, the long shot is used in order to show us different reactions and to show Commodus in the foreground, while Maximus was in the small background. Moreover, in the very same moment, one can see not only the suspense, but also with the help of little editing, the viewer can mention the smug look on Commodus’s face, look of a selfish man, the man who cares for nothing and the eyes of Maximus, the look of morality in these eyes. One scene and one small thematic editing helped to understand the huge differences not only between characters, but also the main themes of the whole movie.
Gladiator is a high-concept movie with an excellent music score and effect supervisory techniques, where each of them perfectly fits in the movie motion. By using different techniques during filming, like muted colors or slow motion during fighting, Ridley Scott has managed not only to bring the whole depressive or even sometimes horrible atmosphere of battles and Rome, but also the realistic realm of the movie.