Director Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise, Alien) brings the glorious battles of the ancient Roman arena back to the big screen. Set against the splendor and barbarity of the Roman Empire in AD 180, Gladiator tells an epic story of courage and revenge: The great Roman general Maximus (Russell Crowe) has been forced into exile and slavery by the jealous heir to the throne, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Trained as a gladiator, Maximus returns to Rome, intent on avenging the murder of his family by Commodus, now emperor. The one power stronger than that of the emperor is the will of the people, and Maximus knows he can attain his revenge only by becoming the greatest hero in all the Empire. Russell Crowe heads up an international cast that includes Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielson, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, and Richard Harris. Directed by Ridley Scott from a script by David Franzoni and John Logan, Gladiator is produced by Franzoni, Douglas Wick, and Branko Lustig, with Walter F. Parkes serving as executive producer.