Factual error: When a group of soldiers goes to Maximus' villa to burn it and kill his family, his son points them, saying in perfect Italian "Mama! I soldati!" I just don't understand why he speaks Italian in a movie in English, where people are supposed to speak Latin, in a province where this language was never ever spoken.
Continuity mistake: During the enactment of the Battle of Zama, Maximus rides his horse around a bend with his sword in his left hand. When we cut to close up, it's back in his right. Looking at the left-handed shot in freeze-frame, you can see the frame has been flipped, left-to-right (check the armor). This was probably for continuity reasons. Similarly, Maximus jumps on the horse and his shoulder protector is clearly on his injured left shoulder. However, a few frames later, the protector is on his right shoulder, then it moves yet again back the correct spot, the left shoulder.
Visible crew/equipment: During the scene where Maximus throws the sword into the crowd and yells "are you not entertained," the camera pans around, and in the crowd, for a split second, you can see a cameraman in jeans and a shirt standing next to a camera. This is visible on the big screen, but hard to see on video, unless you see it on DVD and can zoom in.
Continuity mistake: When Hagen tests Maximus in the sword fighting, watch closely the scene behind them. At the time when Hagen strikes Maximus for the first time you can see gladiator behind taking a glass. At the time of the second strike you can see only a glass. When Hagen stopped his third strike you can see the same gladiator holding a glass and looking around. This time he is turned toward the camera and you can see a red spot on his chest.
Visible crew/equipment: When Maximus enters the arena before facing Tigris, the camera pans around the crowd. At one point, you can see a young Hispanic girl wearing a "scrunchie" holding her hair in a perfect ponytail, several bracelets and a watch, a necklace, a cut-off white t-shirt, and blue jeans. Most noticeable in full screen version.
Revealing mistake: In the beginning of the film at the major fight sequence. When you see the Romans shield themselves with the rectangular shields against the barbarian's arrows and then they charge at each other. If you look closely enough, you can see two Roman soldiers standing there having a great laugh, one pointing a sword smiling, and the other one staring at the ground laughing to his heart's delight.
Factual error: When the execution squad is ready, Quintus says "fire". Of course this is incorrect, since you don't fire a bow and arrow, but "loose" it. The term "fire" came only with the invention of firearms. It's a common mistake in bow / arrow type situations. (Extended version only).
Factual error: The opening battle is wildly inaccurate. The Roman legions were trained to fight as a regimented force, and to maintain formation for mutual support. In the film, the formation collapses instantly upon contact with the enemy. Further, the Roman legions used spears called pila. Doctrine called for them to be thrown while the enemy closed. The Romans would then draw their swords and fight, while remaining in formation. Though the Romans are shown holding their pila in the opening scenes, they are never used against the barbarians, and we see no pila-riddled shields and/or corpses in the background.
Factual error: At several points in the movie you will see speeches to a large crowd. These take place at the Piazza San Pietro. This square however is late Renaissance. Connected with this is the columns you see in these scenes. They were designed by the Italian artist Bernini, and the film crew didn't even remove the statues of all the popes.
Continuity mistake: Maximus is about to be executed in the forest in Germania. Maximus kneels on the floor. The swordsman steps behind him and lifts the sword above his head to drive it down into the back of the neck of Maximus. When Maximus stands up and head-butts the swordsman the swordsman's arms are now by his side and the sword gone. The next shot shows the arms back in the air, with the sword, and Maximus grabbing the sword.
Revealing mistake: After the first battle in the Colosseum (The Battle of Carthage), Commodus decides to meet "The Spaniard" in the arena. When Quintus (the head of the Praetorian Guard) is telling the slaves to drop their weapons, we can see one of the spectators hiding a plastic bottle of water (right upper corner of the screen).
Revealing mistake: As Tigris lays injured on the floor of the Colosseum, there are several close-ups of Maximus holding the axe above his head, with light streaming in around him. There are two things wrong with this; First of all, the camera angle is nowhere near steep enough to see the top of the Colesseum, therefore no light rays. Secondly, the top of the set can actually be seen between the light rays, as the canvas shades are too short and wide to be those seen in the CG wide-shots. Use the DVD "Making Of" as reference.
Factual error: Architectural elements were from several centuries later. Note the balustrades, bell towers and domes in the Rome skyline shot and, more than anything else, Maximus' house, a typical 15th century Chianti villa. Also the columns are not painted, which they were in ancient Rome.
Revealing mistake: In the scene where the Praetorians attacks the gladiator's quarters and the gladiators are forced to fight in order to hide Maximus' escape, Hagen is shot full of arrows. Note the blocky silhouette of his torso area? What kind of padding is he wearing under that canvas jerkin?
Continuity mistake: During the scene in which Maximus battles one-on-one with Tigris of Gaul (the gladiator that returned from retirement) in the Coliseum, Maximus is ordered to kill the Tigris. As he refuses and throws the axe down, the left side of Maximus' neck is completely covered with blood. When Commodus enters to speak with Maximus, there is only the slightest trace of blood on his neck, which now also seems to be completely dry.
01:43:35 - 01:44:30
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.)
Revealing mistake: When the chariot crashes in to the gladiators, we can see the shield in which the chariot crashes in to. It's not shaped like the other shields which are shaped in a perfect bow. This shield is rectangular shaped most likely to balance better on what ever is supporting it when the chariot runs over it making the chariot tip over.
Audio problem: When Maximus is eating with Juba and Haken, just before he fights Tigris of Gaul, listen to the background noise very closely as the men talk. There's lots of chatter and stray noises, but amid the sounds you can hear someone yelling urgently: "Warren, Warren... Warren, ...radio." This may be the sounds of a crew member telling another regarding a radio.
Continuity mistake: In the battle scene between Maximus and Tigris, not only does the visor flip up and down (see above), but when Tigris falls down with his visor up, you can see that his face isn't marked. But when Maximus again unmasks Tigris, it's bloody with a giant scrape across the face.
Continuity mistake: During the battle of Carthage, Maximus rides past another man standing on the ground and throws a spear into his chest. The man clutches the spear with his right hand as he falls backwards, but when it cuts to him hitting the ground both his hands are out to the side and the spear has suddenly disappeared.
Continuity mistake: At the beginning of the film, when the Romans are about to fight the Germanians, a shot of some soldiers standing beside a war machine is shown. In the background, you can see that the fires for the archers are already lit. The next shot then show the same fires being lit and you can tell they are in the same place as the ones previously shown.
Revealing mistake: In the "Battle of Cartage" when the first of the chariots is turned over, right after Maximus is saying "Hold, hold...down low, down low," there is a series of shots to the crowd, there is a bearded man celebrating with both arms, and deep to his right (left on the screen) there's another man, wearing some kind of clothes with stripes black and white. Behind him, there is an old man who appears very briefly, and he's wearing glasses.
Revealing mistake: During the gladiator battle where Maximus is fighting gladiators alone, there is a particular shot with the gladiator he recently sliced up the stomach on. First Maximus hits him in the face, and you can see blood gutter up from the ground instead of from his face. Then when it cuts to Maximus stabbing him, blood gutters from behind Maximus, when in fact the gladiator is standing in front of him.
Continuity mistake: Before Lucilla gets to Commodus who asks her if she knows if Gracchus has a new lover suspecting her to be his new lover, she walks by two servants. The servant on the left is looking down with his head bowed. When it cuts he is suddenly standing up straight looking after Lucilla as she walks by. (Extended version only).
Continuity mistake: When Commodus goes to see his father thinking his father would pass his powers onto him, if you look closely when he enters, there's a white sheet blowing rather vigorously in front of the camera. When it cuts to a shot of Commodus, the sheet now is hardly blowing at all.
Continuity mistake: At one point during the first Germanian attack you see the Roman soldiers creating a line-up with shields, soon after followed by the Germanians running towards them off-hill (starting their attack). Clearly a few Germanian stopped fighting a little too early and you see them (left-side) turning and looking around.
Continuity mistake: Just before the battle with against the Germanians begins, while the Germanians are taunting the Romans, there are many arrows in the trees and in the ground. Twice we see this. Problem is that the disciplined Romans had not fired a single arrow at that point and no skirmishers, which could have been authorized to shoot before the order to "loose" can be seen in the open area in front of the defensive position.
Continuity mistake: During the final scenes, when Maximus had died and his body is lying on the sand, we can see both the slaves and the Praetorians forming a semicircle around Maximus. When Quintus asks for help to carry Maximus body, during the second it takes long to raise it up (shot change), the slaves have moved and the Praetorians are forming a perfect honor corridor through which Maximus's body is about to go by.
Continuity mistake: When we get to the comedy play fight between Maximus and Commodus, we look at the front of the stage and we see the actor playing Maximus is standing in the middle of the stage and the one playing Commodus on the right side. When we get a view from back of the stage 'Maximus' is standing on the left side of the stage and 'Commodus' in the middle. They have suddenly switched sides.
Visible crew/equipment: In the scene on the DVD where Maximus' son is lunging his horse, just before he gets killed, the camera pans to show a view of the house in the background. On the right side of the house you can see two aerial power cables between the trees. You need a good resolution screen to pick it out: it's visible on my computer monitor but not on my television.
Continuity mistake: When Lucilla is making tonic for Commodus there is a close-up of her hand mixing the tonic. We can see on the table there is nothing near the glass except for a purple bottle which is probably 5 centimeters from the glass. When it cuts and she puts away the spoon she tips something over on the table right next to the glass. However it can't be the purple bottle because it would have to be closer to the glass in order for Lucilla to hit it.
Revealing mistake: During the first gladiator battle there is a shot of Maximus stabbing another gladiator. When it cuts from behind that gladiator it is obvious that the sword is resting in his armpit before Maximus pulls it out. This happens a few shots after Hagen chops off his fellow gladiator's hand.
Visible crew/equipment: After Maximus defeats Tigris of Gaul, there are Praetorians shown coming out of a gate on the left-hand side into the arena. In the next shot, you can see an open gate at the far end of the arena and you can see some kind of golf cart-like vehicle driving by on the outside of the Colosseum. It is very a motorized vehicle because there is no horse and it moves too smoothly.
Revealing mistake: During the first battle the Romans had with the Germans, they show a scene in slow motion with very emotive music that shows the massacre in the forest. Look closely at all the Romans and you will see one fall to the ground, then, as if it was a rewind, come back up again - and then fall again.
Revealing mistake: At the end, when Maximus had gone to afterlife world of Elysium and was meeting his wife and son, both the wife and the son put their hands up as to shield the sun from their eyes. You can clearly see that their hands are not blocking out the sun, because the shadows are not over the eyes.
Continuity mistake: When Maximus has escaped being executed in the forest, he throws a sword into a soldier. Slow it down, the sword is actually already there in one shot, then it appears suddenly. Also the sword penetrates the left side of the body near the heart, yet when we see the soldier falling from the horse it's in the middle, then back to the left side.
Continuity mistake: After Juba has thrown the sword to Maximus, Maximus tries to gather the gladiators by shouting "Single column, single column," then it cuts to him charging on his horse while holding his sword arm out. When it cuts from behind him he is holding his sword arm in front of him instead.
Continuity mistake: When Hagen is shot in his leg with an arrow he is holding the arrow in his leg. Maximus notices the chariot charging for Hagen and he shouts "Hagen". It cuts to Maximus running against Hagen, but now we can see that there is no arrow in Hagen's foot. When it cuts to Maximus reaching Hagen and pushing him away from the chariot the arrow is back in his leg.
Continuity mistake: At the end of the battle with Tigris of Gaul, Maximus kills the tiger that leaps on top of him and throws it off to the side. In the next shot the tiger is back on top of him and he has to fight with it laying on his stomach. Later the tiger is once again off to the side.
Continuity mistake: When Maximus says "On my signal, unleash hell" he takes off with his horse. Then he rides through a stand with soldiers and the soldiers gets up on their feet. Then it cuts to a close-up of Maximus riding and as the camera zooms out the soldiers gets on their feet again.
Revealing mistake: In the "Battle of Carthage," towards the end just after the repeater crossbow has been fired, we see one of Maximus's fellow gladiators running towards one of the fallen chariot riders. You can clearly see the spike that he kills the chariot rider with moving as he runs, suggesting that it was made of a softer, safer material.
Continuity mistake: After Hagen has faked choking Juba start laughing. Then it cuts to Maximus slowly starting to laugh. In the next shot we can see both Hagen and Maximus laughing, but Juba is dead serious now. Then in the following shot behind Juba we can see him laughing again.
Continuity mistake: When Maximus is on a horse pursuing the chariot with the female gladiator throwing a spear at him and misses, we can see there is an extra spear standing on the chariot. Then Maximus throws his spear and when it cuts to the spear hitting the female gladiator the spear in the chariot is suddenly gone.
Continuity mistake: At the very start of the film when we see Maximus for the first time, he is talking to his friend Quintus. Two boys run past, yet when it cuts to another shot they have vanished. We should have been able to see them at least running off in the background somewhere.
Continuity mistake: After the Gladiators are victorious at the Battle of Carthage, Maximus reveals his identity to Commodus. The time seems to change from sunset to high noon a number of times. The crowd shots are at noon, the close ups are clearly made with the sun on one side of their faces.
Continuity mistake: In the middle of the film, just after the last gladiator match in the Roman province arena, Maximus goes to see Proximo. In one particular shot we see Proximo walk away and Maximus turn his whole body to face him, yet in the following shot, it is just his head that is turned.
Audio problem: Before the first battle in the Colosseum there is a speech about Hannibal by Cassius. He says "Ferocious mercenaries and warriors from all brute nations bent on merciless destruction conquest." As he says "Conquest" it cuts to a closeup of the gladiators. Look at the crowd in the background. They are getting up while cheering and clapping. However you can't hear anything else than the speech.
Factual error: The last gladiator to be killed when Maximus is chained to Juba holds a trident. This kind of gladiator is called a "retiarius." They're also the ones who fight using nets. The shoulder armour was always worn on the left shoulder, not the right, because left-handedness was frowned upon in Ancient Rome. Also "retiarius" never wore face masks for helmets as it would give them too much of an advantage. Every Gladiator was given equal advantage depending on their specialty.
Revealing mistake: When Maximus goes up against the 6 gladiators by himself, the fourth gladiator (carrying an axe and wearing a large helmet) he slashes across the right side right above the belt. You can tell the slash doesn't cut, but leaves a trail of blood and in the next shot the blood disappears entirely.
01:06:55 - 01:07:00Joel Amos Gordon
Continuity mistake: When the gladiators have won inside the coliseum for their first battle, Commodus goes to see Maximus in the arena. In the previous shot, Maximus gets off of a white horse, yet in the following shot, the white horse is at the bottom of the screen with Maximus and the other gladiators some distance away.
Factual error: There's a blackboard in one of the scenes when there's about to be a gladiatorial contest. The Romans may have had blackboards then, but the writing on it is wrong. The sort shown takes time to chip into stone used on statues, etc, and I suppose it would take quite a long time just to write things on a blackboard. The Romans had different writing for things like that, as shown in the graffiti in Pompeii. It's more flowing, and I expect it's quicker to produce.
Continuity mistake: When Maximus chops the head off the German at the beginning of the movie, his sword is supposed to be stuck to the tree. However after he has chopped the head off you can for a second see the sword in his hand before we get to the shot where the sword is stuck to the tree.
Continuity mistake: In the final battle, there are about 20 or something Praetorians on the platform when it moves up. But when you see the platform coming up to the arena, there are suddenly enough to form the "tortoise" position; and then they have multiplied in order to arrange the circle around Commodus and Maximus (about 45 Praetorians).
Revealing mistake: Watch closely during the first gladiator battle as the man who is caught in a net gets charged by a man with a spear and a man with a sword. First the man with the spear stabs him, but when the man with the sword stabs him you can actually see him holding the tip of the sword pointing to the side avoiding to hit him.
Continuity mistake: At the end of the first battle inside the Colosseum, Commodus goes out to see Maximus, yet when he first enters the arena's floor, the distance from him to Maximus changes three times during shots. For example, when he first goes through the gate, it cuts to Maximus, then back to Commodus and he is just coming out the gate again, yet in the previous shot he came out the gate.
Continuity mistake: The first time Maximus is about to fight as a gladiator we see him grabbing some dirt in his right hand and pouring it into his left hand. When it cuts we can see both his hands covered in dirt before he start rubbing his hands, as if he already has rubbed his hands in a previous scene.
Continuity mistake: When Maximus has killed the Praetorian and got wounded himself, we see him getting down on his knees and leading his right arm to the wound on his left arm. At this time we can see the sleeve on his right arm is by his elbow. When it cuts to a close-up of his hand we can see the sleeve is down by his wrist.
Audio problem: When Commodus and Gracchus are having their little debate in front of the senate and Gracchus says "Then perhaps Caesar will be so good as to teach us, out of his own extensive experience.". Then it cuts to a wide shot of the senate, and you can hear them laugh. However, none of them are moving their mouths, nor seems amused in any way.
Factual error: When Maximus walks through the wheat field it is obvious (to a botanist) that the wheat shown is an octaploid variety which was developed in the 1950's for the Green Revolution. The type of wheat grown during Roman times can still be found in many areas too, so it's not like the filmmakers can't find it.
Continuity mistake: During Maximus's death scene at the end you can clearly see the entrance that Commodus and Maximus entered the arena through in the floor of the arena. After Juba is done burying the figures of Maximus's dead son and wife, you can not see the entrance anymore when he is walking away.
02:21:00 - 02:22:55
Factual error: In the scene where the two senators are quarreling about the note about the gladiators, we can read: "gladiatores violentia." This is an encroachment on latin grammar. Since gladiator is a male word, a corresponding adjective should be male too. Also, violentia is a noun. The correct form would be 'gladiatores violenti = violent gladiators' or 'gladiatores violentae = gladiators who fight like girls' depending on which school of thought you ascribe to (the latter being the claim that it is an informal use of Latin, insulting the gladiators by slighting their masculinity, accusing them of an effeminate form of fighting.).
Factual error: During a meal in the gladiatorial school, Juba is shown eating with a metal spoon. Slave-gladiators almost certainly only ate with their fingers, wooden spoons, or wads of bread to sop up their food. They never would have access to metal spoons that could be sharpened and used to attack the guards keeping watch over them.
Continuity mistake: When Proximo is about to be killed and says "shadows and dust", the background scenery changes. It is obviously an alternate take from when he says the same thing before Maximus fights Tigris, used because of the death of Oliver Reed, but that doesn't make it any less a mistake.
Continuity mistake: After Maximus comes out of the tunnel after leaving the gladiator quarters, he sees his friend Cicero. Maximus makes a bird noise to get his attention, Cicero sees him and in an attempt to warn him he yells "Maximus." He startles his horse which runs away but a noose is around his neck so he is pulled off the horse and left hanging there. As soon as the horse leaves him and he starts swinging his hands you can see they are not tied. Then when Maximus runs up to him and holds his feet up to try and save him his hands are tied up.
Continuity mistake: In the Gladiatorial fight scene in Morocco, Maximus throws one sword with his right hand into the stand, still holding a sword in his left hand. The next instant long shot of him shows the remaining sword in his right hand as he taunts the crowd with "Are you not entertained?"
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