Sunday, February 1, 2015

The BBC Made-for-TV Movie, "Colosseum: A Gladiator's Tale"


Today, I write to explore a bit more on the issue of gladiators in ancient Rome.  The work I've selected to discuss is a "docu-drama" produced by the BBC as a broadcast television movie.  The title is "Colosseum: A Gladiator's Story."

Much of what we know in the factual sense concerning the actual conduct of gladiatorial fights in the Colosseum comes from the account of the Roman poet, Martial, and his first-hand account of the fight between Verus and Priscus, held at the behest of Caesar Titus. The rest of what we know is anecdotal in nature, learned through archeological records or theoretical.

This docu-drama attempts to cover the life of Verus, a Balkan captive and slave, who rose from the rock quarries to become the most renown of gladiators.  Of particular interest in this movie is it's depiction of a private gladiatorial fight held at the residence of an aristocrat, for the wealthy and important guests attending a private party. I've included the 4-minute excerpt concerning this fight as a video clip below, at the bottom of this entry.


Verus is made to fight another gladiator for the entertainment of the aristocrat and his guests.  The guests include many Roman women, dressed in bloodthirsty red robes, as well as men.  There is an exchange of attacks with swords and the incursion of mutual superficial wounds.  In the end, Verus gets the best of his opponent, and the honored guest gives the thumbs down.  Verus kills his opponent in front of all the aristocrats and their horny wives, and afterward, the guests all chant his name in honor of his win.

In particular, the fight is witnessed with great interest by the beautiful Imperial Lady, played by the stunning Tunisian actress, Dorra Zarrouk.  Now 35, Dorra was just 23 at the time this film was made in 2003 (released in 2004).  She is a former economist and fashion model, turned actress, whose acting career has now blossomed. In 2012, she was voted the most beautiful woman in Tunisia. Below are some pictures of the lovely Dorra Zarrouk.































Dorra's character plays an active role in searching out the gladiators for the fight at the private party. She joins Titus in traveling to the gladiator school to review candidates, wearing a perpetual smile on her pretty face. When the gladiators are joined to fight at the party, she is front and center, longingly staring at Verus as he is handed his weapon. In part, it is made clear that this fight to the death is for her entertainment, is her personally-made arrangement and has her explicit approval.  In her own way, she wants Verus to know this and makes a show of it, before he is joined in combat.

During the fight, Dorra's character intensely watches the combat but shows no emotion.  She smiles and applauds after Verus has killed his opponent and the guest of honor has raised Verus' hand in victory. The message conveyed is that the wealthy and powerful women of Rome were also sadists, who took lustful sexual pleasure in watching men kill each other.  No doubt, the men of Rome exploited their women's built-up sexual excitement, once they got them back home.

There is a primal, natural connection between violence and sex.  The Romans exploited this connection on a regular basis to make what was a mundane and difficult existence into something more substantial and palatable.  Although society tries to repress this instinct in us, it no doubt lurks in our background and sometimes still comes out to play.  As dark as it may be, it simply cannot be washed away from our nature.


video

14 comments:

  1. Nice entry.
    Yes it must have been like this in the aristocratic circles in the Roman Empire.
    Warrior virtues were highly prized in the Empire. Like all empires the Romans had risen to pre-eminence in Italy (and later the known world) by being more successful and ruthless at slaughtering their rivals. How ruthless they were can be seen from what they did at Carthage.
    When Rome reached the top of the ''food chain'' however there were genuine fears that the Empire would become more effete and decadent and that they would lose their warrior traits. Hence the need for gladiators - so that they could see and experience the excitement of one on one combat and killing.
    Women have always been curious how men behave in battle - maybe Roman ladies more than most so they would particularly look forward to gladiatorial fights.

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  2. something hot about losing like that and being thrust through and destroyed for the amusement and pleasure of hot aristocratic women. i like the fact that gladiators are so expendable.

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  3. I agree Steven. I've found the total expendability of gladiators a big turn on. They were considered so much male meat to be slaughtered. There were always replacements to be found - from prisoners of war, galley slaves and slaves working the mines.

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  4. I agree Steven. I've found the total expendability of gladiators a big turn on. They were considered so much male meat to be slaughtered. There were always replacements to be found - from prisoners of war, galley slaves and slaves working the mines.

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    1. i've always thought it would be hot to be killed by another man in the arena for the pleasure and amusement of a woman. i love those old films where you see beautiful but heartless aristocratic women watching gladiators fight and die. the expressions on their faces are priceless. when i imagine fighting in the arena and imagine those women watching me being put to the sword or dispatched as i lay helpless on the ground...

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  5. I agree with you Steven about fighting in the arena in front of aloof sexy Roman ladies. But I would like to be the one to survive and stick it to the other gladiator. That way I would be around to see their smiles and applause at my manly prowess.

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  6. Yes Tim there's something in that. I too would like to triumph initially, winning fame and adulation as a gladiator and finding my way into the beds of many of the hottest (and cruelest) ladies in the city. Ultimately, however, I would like to meet my match, an opponent who was bigger and stronger than me and who would eliminate me before the eyes of the very women who had used me for their pleasure. I think it would an erotic way to die, especially hearing those women shouting "Kill him, kill him," as my opponent overwhelmed me. Even hotter if I lay sprawled out on the ground, begging for my life, only to hear a women I had recently slept with order my opponent to finish me off. It's probably a bit weird, but I kind of like it as a fantasy. I find the idea of being expendable and easily replaced a real turn-on.

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  7. Yes I know what you mean Steven about being expendable. Its odd but there is an erotic thing involved in that idea. I hate war but whenever there's a huge all-out war and males are conscripted each of those guys going through the army medical must feel like that way - that they (and all the other males there) are so much disposable 'meat' to be wasted on the battlefield. The only priority in war is for 'our side' to win. A lot of military commanders don't seem to worry about how many it takes to achieve that objective!!
    If I was in a situation like that then I would really be envious of women because they are not expected to make the ultimate sacrifice. But such is life I guess..........or should I say such is death!!

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  8. I know what you mean. It's pretty awesome and there is something erotic about it. I often struck by this when watching old sword and sandal movies. There'll be a battle and afterwards the camera will pan over the field littered with dead bodies. Some guys are lying there with javelins in them. Others might have an arrow or two in their bodies. It's the same during gladiator films when the bodies of the defeated gladiators start piling up in the arena. Death for real must be horrendous, but on film it has a certain aesthetic that must appeal to people. I've had girlfriends that have enjoyed seeing men being slaughtered like this, the hotter the men the better. And it's true that women don't have to join armies if they don't want to, but plenty of them get killed too as 'collateral damage'.

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  9. I agree ts terrible that women are sometimes killed in battle as ''collateral damage''. I hate to hear about that happening.
    Like yourself I'm a great fan of the old gladiator films. Of course the older films are pretty tame going by the wall-to-wall 'tits and slaughter' in the tv series Spartacus Blood and Sand. But the old ones had some pretty hot scenes for their time. For instance the scene in the 1960 Spartacus where a 'special show' is put on for the pleasure of Crassus' women when they visit the gladiator training school. The women view the gladiators as little more than human cockerals trained to fight and kill for their pleasure.
    Unfortunately I can't think of a gladiator film where the bodies - as you say - start piling up. If you know of any please let me know because I'm fascinated by the fantasy of dead and dying men piling up in heaps on the battlefield.
    The only scene I know like that is the massacre at the end of the famous 1963 film Zulu where the Welsh soldiers fire again and again into the massed ranks of attacking Zulus. After its finished there is a slow panning shot over heaps of writhing, groaning and dying natives. Great scene.

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  10. I agree ts terrible that women are sometimes killed in battle as ''collateral damage''. I hate to hear about that happening.
    Like yourself I'm a great fan of the old gladiator films. Of course the older films are pretty tame going by the wall-to-wall 'tits and slaughter' in the tv series Spartacus Blood and Sand. But the old ones had some pretty hot scenes for their time. For instance the scene in the 1960 Spartacus where a 'special show' is put on for the pleasure of Crassus' women when they visit the gladiator training school. The women view the gladiators as little more than human cockerals trained to fight and kill for their pleasure.
    Unfortunately I can't think of a gladiator film where the bodies - as you say - start piling up. If you know of any please let me know because I'm fascinated by the fantasy of dead and dying men piling up in heaps on the battlefield.
    The only scene I know like that is the massacre at the end of the famous 1963 film Zulu where the Welsh soldiers fire again and again into the massed ranks of attacking Zulus. After its finished there is a slow panning shot over heaps of writhing, groaning and dying natives. Great scene.

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  11. It doesn't terribly bother me Tim seeing women being taken out as "collateral damage", at least not in film and TV. It's true it's kind of shocking and a terrible waste of sexual potential. But I guess you could say the same thing about men. I like old films best. I didn't watch Blood and Sand but the bits I saw looked over the top. I like that - to fight and kill, and also to be killed, for a woman's pleasure. Old films had style as well as substance and the erotic content was there too, although usually not so overt, which I think makes it more powerful.
    I actually wasn't talking specifically about gladiator films. I was thinking more of the sword and sandal genre in general. I can't recall any names off the top of my head, but they're easy enough to find on Youtube. I wonder what fascinates you about seeing dead and dying men strewn over battlefields. I too find it powerful but I still haven't worked out why exactly. There's something awesome about it, I think, which words can't quite capture. I don't know.

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  12. Why am I fascinated by watching men dead and dying in heaps in battle scenarios? Like yourself I really don't quite know. I certainly don't like seeing it in real life in films taken during various wars. So fortunately its only a fantasy thing with me (unlike some of the psychos who post on this board!). The nearest I can figure it is that it illustrates as graphically as possible that -
    1) men are natural born killers of other men and don't really care how many men get killed in wars - as long as it isn't them of course!
    2) that men are the 'expendable' sex whereas women are not.
    3) I get turned on by the double standards on display - if men are slaughtered and piled up in their thousands in a film it doesn;t matter but if a single woman is killed then people hate it - especially women!! I've had girlfriends who've watched and enjoyed war movies and violent action movies but if anywhere a woman is shown getting hurt they really got annoyed. Didn't matter that the movie showed loads of men get 'taken out' - in fact they actually usually enjoyed that as long as the women was safe! (Maybe I've been going out with the wrong kind of woman?!)
    Related to this I've always enjoyed the scenario of of drafting being re-introduced and young males being called up to serve. (Again this is fantasy fodder as I don't really approve of drafting in peacetime - which is still happening in Russia). The best part of the fantasy is the guys going to their medicals in droves and having to strip off naked while nurses and female admin staff are watching (and secretly enjoying all the male eye candy on display!). Again its the double standards which gets to me. There have been some fetish sites just on this army medical scenario.









    teh n

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    1. I must admit Tim I'm not really into the medical scenario thing. That's all too immediate and too real for me. I think that's why I like Sword and Sandal films. It's far back in time which gives the action a fantasy element and that's what turns me on. Even though I'm straight, I still admire the hot, scantily-clad male bodies and like nothing better than to see them being dispatched and their bodies lying sprawled out on the ground. I enjoy seeing men spread-eagled on their backs, with the bulge in their loincloths or whatever clearly showing. I also know what you mean about women liking that sort of thing. I have had several lovers who enjoyed films where heaps of men were violently taken out, their bodies strewn afterwards like so many pieces of rubbish across the battlefield. One woman in particular was very avid in her enjoyment of such scenes - which I of course found very erotic. It was her enthusiasm that made me long to be expendable also...

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