Gladiator, 2000


Ridley Scott


visit the film locations

Morocco: Getting there: flights to Menara (Marrakech) or Mohammed V (Casablanca)

Tourist info: Tourism in Morocco

Specialist tours: Cosmos Tourama Tour holidays, including Morocco and visits to Aït Ben Haddou

Malta: Visit Fort Ricasoli

Surrey: The Bourne, southeast of Farnham (rail: London Waterloo)


The striking town of Aït Ben Haddou has also hosted Sergio Leone and Robert Aldrich’s once-scandalous epic The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as The Jewel of the Nile and scenes for Lawrence of Arabia.

Much of the same story (albeit without the gladiator of the title) is covered in Anthony Mann’s sombre The Fall of the Roman Empire. Filmed on gigantic sets built in Spain), its box-office failure is largely credited with ending the 60s cycle of increasingly grandiose historical epics.

Gladiator filming location: Ait Benhaddou, Morocco

Gladiator filming location: Maximus fights in the ‘African’ arena, Aït Ben Haddou, Morocco

Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning epic film borrows heavily from Anthony Mann’s 1964 Fall of the Roman Empire (made on vast sets in Spain, and which had Alec Guinness in the Richard Harris role of Marcus Aurelius, and Christopher Plummer as the barking mad emperor Commodus) and Stanley Kubrick‘s Spartacus (which was, itself, begun by Anthony Mann).

Gladiator filming location: Bourne Wood, Farnham, Surrey

Gladiator filming location: the bloody battle in ‘Germania’: Bourne Wood, near Farnham, Surrey

The savage opening battle, set in ‘Germania’, was staged at The Bourne near Farnham, Surrey. The story that filming caused ructions among environmentalists after swathes of forest were cleared seems to be a media concoction – this was an area scheduled for clearing by the Forestry Commission. The clearing, south of Dene Lane, off Tilford Road, southeast of Farnham, was revisited in 2009 by Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe for the castle and village sets in Robin Hood. More recently, the forest became the muddy battlefield of WWI for Steven Spielberg’s War Horse and saw Marvel’s hammer-wielding superhero battling inhuman hordes in Thor: The Dark World.

The African town, where Maximus (Crowe) is sold into slavery, is AÔt Ben Haddou, near Ouarzazate in Morocco. Director Ridley Scott returned to the same locale to film Holy Land scenes for Kingdom of Heaven.

The provincial arena was added to the existing village, which had already hosted films such as David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia, The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah (co-directed by Sergio Leone and Robert Aldrich) and Jewel of the Nile.

The vast ‘Roman’ sets (with extensive CGI additions) were constructed on the massive remains of Fort Ricasoli on Malta, later used for the filming of Wolfgang Petersen’s 2004 epic Troy.

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