During the spread of the Roman Empire large swathes of Europe came under the rule of these powerful conquerors. Traditionally associated with Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, it is easy to forget that the Empire also spread to more northern regions, from our own Britannia in the west to Eastern Europe and the shores of the Baltic. Germania was the name given to the part of the Empire mostly inhabited by Germanic peoples, and it extended from the Danube to the Baltic and from the Rhine to the Vistula.
Gladiator, directed by Ridley Scott, is one of my favourite films, mainly for the superb acting by Russell Crowe as Maximus and by Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus (he was robbed at the Oscars in my opinion), not to mention the late, lamented hellraisers Richard Harris and Oliver Reed, who actually died during filming. Some amazing computer and filming wizardry brought Reed back to life for the scenes involving him which were yet to be filmed.
However, the film is also notable for its camerawork, making use of an array of stunning locations. The stirring opening scene of Gladiator, depicting a battle in the forests of Germania set to the warlike music of Hanz Zimmer, was actually filmed in Surrey, in an area south of Farnham known as Bourne Wood, an area of mainly coniferous woodland. The woods here have been purposely designated as a filming area, the Forestry Commission allowing them to be used for this purpose for up to 8 months a year, subject to certain restrictions such as the use of helicopters. Other films making use of the woods include Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood and War Horse. On the small screen the woods featured in the miniseries Band of Brothers, and they were used as jungle for It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. They also appear in a number of adverts and in the video for Coldplay’s The Scientist.
|Photo by Ben Gamble, via Wikimedia Commons|