Deliberate mistake: The historically inaccurate portrayal of stirrups in the film was actually due to the stuntmen enacting the cavalry charge in the initial battle scene. Apparently the stuntmen refused to ride the horses over the forest terrain at full gallop without stirrups because it was far too dangerous for both horse and rider. (Galloping a horse through forest or any uneven terrain is incredibly dangerous.) Stirrups were granted as a concession to the stuntmen on the grounds of saftey. Since they were included in this scene, the film makers decided to allow them in all other scenes where necessary. (Only seven stuntmen were used in the filming of these scenes - all the other riders are just CGI copies.)
Factual error: When a group of soldiers goes to Maximus' villa to burn it and kill his family, his son points them, saying in Italian "Mamma! I soldati!" ("Mom, the soldiers!") and then "Papà!" ("Daddy!"). This is because the young actor (Giorgio Cantarini) is Italian and they didn't translate, for some reason. As a result, he's speaking Italian in a movie in English, where people are supposed to speak Latin, in a province where Italian was never ever spoken. (00:43:07)
Trivia: In the beginning of the movie, where the Roman army is assembled waiting for the enemy to come into the open, the Germans in the woods are chanting menacingly. A portion of the chant they repeat sounds something like "Boom whattey. HEEYUH!" This soundbyte is cut-and-pasted from the movie Zulu, it is the battle cry the Zulu warriors make as they advance on the British outpost. They didn't just have new actors record the chant, they used the exact same soundbyte. You can even hear at intervals of every seven or eight chants they end by crying "ZULU!"
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