100 Greatest Scenes Number 7: “I Will Have My Vengeance”

Views from the Sofa’s 100 Greatest Scenes is a list of the 100 greatest moments in the movies. This could be long introductions, moments of action or great dialogue between characters. The scenes are in no particular order and come from many different types of movies.

Gladiator is a lot of things. An historical epic, a story of redemption and at it’s heart, a revenge movie. In every revenge movie you need the moment that the hero presents himself to the villain. It is key to the story as it is the “fist-pump” scene, where the audience gets behind the hero and the villain realises what a mistake they’ve made. Many movies have done scenes like this, most pale in comparison to Gladiator’s;

Greatest Scene Number 7: Gladiator – I Will Have My Vengeance

This scene already follows one of Gladiator’s many cool arena battles. Russell Crowe’s Maximus has used his skills as a General and defeated the odds that were stacked so largely against him and the other slaves. As Joaquin Phoenix’s evil Emperor comes out to congratulate our hero, tension is high as Crowe is ready to make the fatal strike that he has waited so long for.

This doesn’t go quite to plan though and instead we get probably the most memorable moment from the whole movie. Crowe turns his back, removes his helmet and delivers the speech with a cool intensity that captures his calm rage perfectly. It is a lot to say but Crowe delivers each word as forthright as the previous until he gets to that killer line: “I will have my vengeance, in this world or the next.”

Phoenix sells his part of the scene perfectly 

This speech only works if it has the intended impact on his enemy and it certainly does. Joaquin Phoenix sells it perfectly. Stunned and shocked, he seems to hold back tears as Crowe stares intently at him. It is the other end of the exchange which makes us cheer even louder for the hero.

The scene is also a turning point in the film. This is when the film becomes less about Crowe’s journey from soldier to gladiator and much more about revenge. It is now Crowe versus Phoenix. As another character puts it to the villain in a later scene: “He is now the Gladiator who defied an Emperor” and he couldn’t have done it in a cooler way.

Overall, in a movie with excellent fight scenes, cool action and lots of historical epic environments, it is a simple speech, delivered with perfect intensity and pace, which steals the movie. Both Crowe and Phoenix sell their respective performances well and demonstrate why revenge movies will always be a successful genre.

The best scene in an epic movie

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3 comments

  1. This is a great scene in one of my all time favorite movies. A couple of my other favorites are the “Are you not entertained scene” (it just seems to work so well) and the “Death smiles at us all” line.

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