The real-life events in these movies are more tragic than anything Hollywood could have imagined.
Historically based tragic movies always try their best to portray the reality of events in which they are set. However, all but a few usually fall short of capturing the true horror of what these situations were like for those who endured them.
This failing is sometimes the result of cinematic expediency while other times it’s the result modern audiences sensitivities. Either way, it is worthwhile to review what these situations were really like and to recall their true horror so as not to romanticize the past or become complacent about tragedy.
Tragic Movies: Gladiator
One of the more tragic real-life aspects not adequately portrayed in the 2000 film directed by Ridley Scott is the historical reality of Emperor Commodus who was in fact far more brutal than shown in the film.
Historical accounts of Commodus paint a picture of a man so incredibly brutal that it is hard to believe he would have been so lenient with Maximus as to allow him to live so long after being insulted. In one real-life instance, where a gladiator showed mercy to his competitor (similar to the scene shown in the film), Commodus ordered that the two be tied together and be forced to fight until death.
Commodus is also said to have been incredibly jealous of popular gladiators and had a well-loved gladiator, named Julius Alexanda, killed for getting too much attention from the public.
In reality, the death of Commodus was also not a good thing for ordinary Romans and did not result in the restoration of a Roman Republic or in peace of any kind. In fact, Commodus’ death (he was strangled by his wrestling partner) actually led to a series of evermore bloody power struggles.