Gladiator Movie Poster Image


Masterful but really violent Oscar winner.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 155 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

"Strength and honor," the motto that Maximus lives by, is upheld in his behavior no matter what happens to him. 

Positive role models

In the midst of losing his family, his life as a Roman soldier and general, and his chance to become emperor, Maximus continues to live his life upholding the motto "strength and honor," even as he is sold into slavery and forced to become a gladiator. 


Very violent, many bloody battle scenes, many deaths. Main character's wife and child are burned and crucified to death offscreen, his wife's charred ankles and feet are shown. Tigers are killed with swords. Decapitations. Bodies cut in half with swords. A lot of blood. Maximus cuts into his skin to remove the tattoo that distinguishes him as a Roman soldier and general. References to rape and incest.


A character desires his sister. An exposed male backside. A character is said to have "moaned like a whore."


"Bitch," and one "s--t." A trader who has purchased two giraffes openly wonders if they are "queer giraffes" because they are not mating. 

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Gladiator is a 2000 movie in which Russell Crowe plays a Roman general who is betrayed by a power-hungry emperor's son and must survive as a gladiator. This is a very violent movie. A woman and child are brutally tortured, killed, and crucified mostly offscreen, and their charred feet and ankles are shown. People are sliced up, burned, and decapitated. Blood is constantly being shed. Tigers are killed by swords. There are references to rape and incest. We see an exposed male backside. A character is said to have "moaned like a whore." We hear "bitch" and "s--t." Overall, while a very loose interpretation of what actually happened in the earliest years of the reign of the tyrannical Emperor Commodus and the beginning of the decline of the Roman Empire, the movie does explore the theme of stoicism and how it helped Maximus to survive tremendous hardships as he continued to live by the motto "strength and honor." 

What's the story?

In 180 AD Rome, the aging Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) watches as Maximus (Russell Crowe), his most trusted general, fights the barbarians in Germania in a terrible, bloody battle. The emperor's son, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), wants to succeed his father, but Caesar doesn't think he has what it takes. When Aurelius chooses Maximus to lead the people back to democracy, Commodus kills his father before the Senate hears about Maximus, then orders the execution of Maximus and his family. Maximus escapes, is captured, is sold into slavery, and becomes a gladiator. To confront Commodus, he must win enough fights to be called to Rome. Meanwhile, Commodus finds ways to distract the populace while he disables the Senate. The only one he trusts is his sister, Lucilla (Connie Nielsen), who pretends to support him to protect her young son.

Is it any good?


GLADIATOR is a movie of such astounding scope and sweep and such masterful storytelling that it makes its storyline seem classic rather than clichéd. Breathtakingly sumptuous visuals credibly recreate the world of Rome in 180 AD, a world of unimaginable reach and power. Director Ridley Scott stages the fight scenes brilliantly, each more inventive and gripping than the last. The results are something like a deranged computer game, with new peril coming literally from all sides. Fellow gladiator Juba (Djimon Hounsou) explains the appeal of the fights when he says that fear and wonder are a powerful combination. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why some people are drawn to watch other people battle. What's the appeal of movies like this?

  • There are many historical inaccuracies in this movie. Why do you think the filmmakers decided to tell a fictional account of the Roman Empire instead of sticking to the facts? 

  • What do you think would be the challenges in bringing to life the Roman Empire circa 180 AD? 

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 5, 2000
DVD/Streaming release date:August 19, 2003
Cast:Connie Nielsen, Joaquin Phoenix, Russell Crowe
Director:Ridley Scott
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:155 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence and some sexual references

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old June 20, 2011

Shouldn't Be R

Gladiator is a unique movie, but a somewhat predictable storyline. It's still a great movie, but you can anticipate the ending from the beginning. There is only one reason this is R...violence. There are bloody moments, some blood spurting, and slow motion violence. But, not enough to give the movie an R rating. I've seen worse PG-13 movies. Also (I don't know whether this will help you) Gladiator won Best Picture of 2000.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Adult Written byfritzsky April 9, 2008

Great Movie

This is a great movie. It has a very good story and Russell Crowe is perfect as Maximus. However, it is extremely violent and I would only recommend it to someone who is mature and about 16 or older.
Kid, 10 years old September 16, 2009

awesome war/epic battle flick.

This is a great, but extremley violent epic battle movie. Another good movie I've reviewed.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Great messages
Great role models