His version of the script, which leaked online in , was a wacky oddity that truly needs to be read to be believed, with Cave exploring time travel, crocodile armies and the Pentagon. Crowe, whose iconic Maximus Decimus Meridius was last seen slain in a colosseum and riding off into the afterlife with his dead wife and son sorry spoiler-phobes , will reportedly not take centre stage in this new version of Gladiator 2, and may not appear at all. The parts that are interesting, which always lead to conflict. Eager to return to the character, he turned to his old friend Nick Cave, having read his script for the Australian western The Proposition, a well-received thriller and the second of three film projects Cave has written — his most recent being the Tom Hardy vehicle Lawless. As Cave recalled on the Marc Maron podcast in , he quickly recognised there may be a problem.
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Screenplay by Nick Cave The Proposition. Nick Cave actually wrote a draft for me and Ridley [Scott] at one point. Nick did this draft and Ridley and I considered it for a while.
Detailed Synopsis: EXT. Dark Wilderness, a storm rages. We follow two thieves as they stumble across the body of a Gladiator lying in the mud.
They strip it of its armor and weaponry. One of the men suddenly goes silent; a large spear is embedded in his spine. A middle-aged man steps out of the shadows to assist. Maximus says that he has no time for riddles. Mordecai responds that he has all eternity. A storm hits, heavy rain obscuring his vision.
A fantastic bolt of lightning strikes the poplar. He violently awakens. Mordecai approaches and explains that there is something he needs to show him. As they walk, Maximus stresses that he must locate his family. Mordecai tells him that there are those who search and those have given up the search.
Over eternity, the former eventually become the latter. They approach the edge of a cliff… Beneath them in the valley: an encampment bordering a pitch-black sea, filled with the infinite numbers of the damned, stretching endlessly to eternity. They descend. While making their way through the camp, Mordecai breaks up a fight between two women.
In return for his services, the Gods allow him to return to Rome in spectral form for brief visits. In the midst of their conversation, the crowd explodes with excitement. In the distance: a lone man glides along the darkened sea on a small boat.
Mordecai pronounces them fools for believing there is any escape. The two make their way to a massive, ruined temple near the encampment. Still, they offer a deal: their brother, Hephaestos, has run off to the desert filled with bad ideas. They want Maximus to seek out Hephaestos and kill him. In exchange, they will reunite him with his family. Maximus bolts out of the temple without saying a word.
Mordecai warns him that the Gods are lying. He can not be reunited with his wife because she sacrificed her place in Elysium to allow their son to cheat death. Marius was resurrected and returned to Earth specifically Rome where he lives out his days. As for Maria…she could be anywhere in the netherworld, but will never be found. Maximus refuses to listen and heads off.
In the desert, he has a vision of his wife. He gives chase as she leads him to a bloodied, dying stag entangled in brambles. Left for dead by his followers, Hephaestos explains that the masses have lost faith in the Roman Gods. There is only one true God and their time has rightfully passed.
Maximus asks about his son. As they lock eyes, the Gladiator is transported… …back to the world of the living.
Maximus rises out of the body of a dying Christian is the midst of a massacre in Lyons. Seeing an elderly Bishop on the verge of being slaughtered, Maximus grabs a weapon and beings hacking away at the attackers. Before the killing blow is delivered: an unseen voice orders a stay. Lucius asks the rebel his name…he has seen him before. Lucius responds by nonchalantly decapitating the old man. He orders the guards to kill Maximus, but he manages to escape.
Maximus refuses and heads off in search of his son. Along the path to the city, he finds a family of butchered Christians. Maximus seems unconcerned by this. Lucius defends himself by explaining that in his mind their empire is dying. Plague, famine, earthquakes, the great granaries of Rome destroyed by inundations…all result from the anger of the Gods.
The Christians mock their divinity and must be destroyed. Their leader must be found. The Emperor reveals that a census is being taken. Anyone who is Christian will be arrested and be provided with an opportunity to recant. If not, they will be put to death in the Coliseum in a spectacular fashion. Meanwhile, a large gathering of Roman Christians discuss aforementioned census.
Several propose standing up and fighting back. Maximus enters: tells them its suicide. They ask who he is; he responds that he was once a Roman soldier. They share some heated words before the gathering is broken up. Maximus rages to Mordecai that his own son does not recognize him. We find Lucius walking the halls of the palace. He passes the bust of certain famous Roman General and halts in his tracks. A haunted look crosses his face. Maximus locates the Christian leader, Cassian and offers his help.
Cassian apologizes for the actions of his student, Marius, last night. His adopted son has a hot temper on occasion. He relates a tale of how he found Marius alone in a sick ward as a little boy, no parents to speak of.
Maximus heads back to the inn to find a pack of groupies. They embrace, drink and catch up…Juba listens, dumbfounded. He presents Maximus with a gift: the totemic figurines of Marius and Maria buried at the end of the first film. He recently retrieved them after learning that the Emperor will be flooding the Coliseum for a match involving alligators.
Maximus thanks him. The next morning: Marius walks through the city. As the confrontation turns physical, Maximus steps from the shadows and beats the attackers to a pulp. Maximus describes the pain of leaving his wife and child, particularly his son…Marius.
Marius arrives at school just in time to see Lucius and his men enter. They announce their intent to arrest the Christian leader. Learned young men? Then, answer me this: Does Rome stand deep-fixed and deathless as in the time of the great Caesars? I think not. Does she prowl the world, hungry and fearless and all-power?
Again…I think not. Do the Gods sit mighty and well-pleased in the Heavens and bestow on her, her just rewards? No and again, no…I think not. Rome weeps and this little fish swims in her tears. The earthquakes that have ripped this mighty empire asunder…charge this little fish.
The infernal plagues and disease? The hellish pestilence that ravages our land? Charge this little fish… The diabolical rage of the Gods? And charge the one that wears it! The man here spits n the eyes of the gods themselves! He is the enemy of us all! Lucius stabs Cassian to death. Marius escapes and heads directly for Maximus, asking for his help in creating an army.
As a boy…as a little boy…I watched a Roman General who became a gladiator bring down the very heavens upon his foes.
When he died, I stood by my other and we wept, and all of Rome wept with us.
Nick Cave's rejected Gladiator 2 script uncovered!
Understandably, Crowe was keener on a film that he could actually be in, and so he hired another screenwriter, Nick Cave. Yes, the theatrical singer-songwriter. With the help of a ghostly guide, Mordecai, Maximus treks to a ruined temple where he meets Jupiter, Mars and five other diseased and decrepit Roman deities. Jupiter explains that one of their number, Hephaestus, has betrayed them, and is now preaching the gospel of another god who is more powerful than all of them. Just to quibble for a moment, Hephaestus is a Greek god, not a Roman one, so Cave should really have named him Vulcan. But the screenplay compensates for this slip with some writing to relish. Am I making myself clear?
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