Friday, June 7, 2013

Shadows and dust

Gladiator is one of those movies that never grow old -- in part because the story is already old, 180 AD to be exact, but also because its themes are timeless: loyalty, betrayal, love, loss, hope, despair, and honor, all clothed in the clang of swords and the dust of the arena. Aivan and I both love the film, and we watched it for the nth time the other night while waiting for Hunter to fall asleep.

"Are you not entertained?" The present-day Colosseum.

One of my favorite lines in the film is the one that Russell Crowe delivers so coldly and terrifyingly when Joaquin Phoenix, as Commodus, orders him to take off his mask and state his name. "My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next." It's not a particularly beautiful or profound line, as it is, but the venom with which Russell Crowe said it would make anyone, even Caesar, quake in his leather sandals.

Another line that really hits home is when Marcus Aurelius tells Commodus, "Your faults as a son is my failure as a father" -- right before Commodus kills him. Now that I'm a parent, I often feel a tremendous sense of responsibility in helping to shape my son's character. As I write this, my son is determinedly running his new front teeth along the edge of his crib, even after we've told him "no." At what point is it still playful mischief, and at what point is it plain and simple disobedience? There are no easy answers -- I don't expect there to be -- and all I can do is act according to my best judgment in every situation. And pray.

The phrase "shadows and dust" is, of course, another line from the movie. "We mortals are but shadows and dust" was uttered by Proximo, a former gladiator who won his freedom and turned to a living as a sort of gladiator manager. "Shadows and dust" was also Proximo's last words before he was stabbed to death by Commodus' soldiers. Ironically, the actor who played Proximo, Oliver Reed, died during filming. Gladiator is dedicated to his memory.

2 comments:

taweng said...

Before my husband and I got pregnant, my doubts were - "Shucks, g-ahak! Hadloka pud oi mahimong responsable ka for another human being... ma-productive citizen kaha xa sa future... =("
But today, as I am feeling Baby S move in my tummy, I more convinced that it is only by God's grace that I can be sure.

Ligaya said...

True doc! Whether it's my son, or husband, or parents, or sister, or whoever, it just helps to realize nga even though I love them, God loves them even more and He will do what's best for them.