Zucchabar - Roman Province - Arena / Ait Benhaddou - Ouarzazate - Morocco

The Spanish Set Design veteran Benjamín Fernández ('The Fall of the Roman Empire') was the 
supervising Art Director in Morocco for Production Designer Arthur Max.
Their crew built several aesthetically pleasing historically real-looking Sets, like the slave market, 
the Gladiator school of Proximo and a small provincial Arena in Ait Benhaddou, using the ancient 
citadel as their backdrop.
The mountain of mud-brick houses in the background added tremendous scale and realism to the scene.
It was a brilliant idea to use the surrounding countryside with the thousands of Extras on the hills 
and rooftops as extended part of the Arena.
An overwhelming, beautiful scenery.
Maximus (Russell Crowe) is trained as a Gladiator in Morocco.
In the dusty Arena of Ait Benhaddou Maximus remained undefeated and and was on his way to become a legend.
Death or Glory.

Zucchabar - Roman Province.
The ancient Casbah of Ait Benhaddou was the filming location for a lot of movies ('Lawrence of Arabia').
A perfect location for 'Gladiator'.
The little town itself gave a lot of charme and design aspects to the Gladiator scenes.

The Arena built at the foot of the ancient 'mud-brick hill', Ait Benhaddou, on a dusty soccer field.
Absolutely awesome, it looks like the Arena had been there for centuries!
The Construction team used mainly indigenous materials and local methods to built the Arena.
Production Designer Arthur Max: 
"The bricks were made of simple mud, mixed with straw, cast in a mold and baked in the sun". 
On the photo you can see a Gladiator training in the Arena with some of the actors.
Nick Powell was the fight coordinator and trainer for all the main actors and Extras.
Concept painting of the Arena by the supervising art director for the Morocco scenes, Benjamín Fernández.
He is pretty close to the final color timing of the scene with his concept.
A legend in Spain with a lot of great movie productions under his belt.
The Spanish Art Director, Production and Set Designer worked for 'Doctor Zhivago', 'Conan the Barbarian', 'Dune', 
'DragonHeart', 'Alien' and many more.
Director Ridley Scott (red cap) plans the movements for the bloody Arena scenes / Gladiator fights.
This is the box for the upper class. Drinks and treats are served.
The whole concept of the arena is very well done.
Desert travel to slavery. 
Maximus was found half dead near his home and is brought to the slave market.
Nice special make up gag with the maggots.
During the travel death slowly escapes from him and he finds his way back to life.
He is very close to the other side ... and then one of the maggots pinches him.
This is not a CGI scene.
They filmed it with Russell Crowe on a plank on a dolly track three inches off the ground.
A stunning sequence.
Now we get to know Proximo, who once was a Gladiator himself and is now the head of his own Gladiator school.
Oliver Reed sadly passed away during the production of 'Gladiator' on Malta.
He got a heart attack after a heavy drinking session in 'The Pub', a local bar in Valletta (Malta).
Ridley Scott prepares the filming of the slave market scene in Ouarzazate (Morocco).
Proximo (Oliver Reed) sees some potential in Maximus and Juba (Djimon Hounsou) and 
buys the two from a greasy slave trader.
Russell Crowe and Director Ridley Scott in conversation on the slave market.
And again, a very harmonious top set design.
Proximo brings his new purchases to his gladiator school for further education.
After a hard training in the 'boot camp', the gladiators are on their way to their first fight in the arena.
On the march of the Gladiator rookies toward the Arena they pass through a narrow alleyway of a dye market.
Raw wool is dyed in bright red colors and hung in giant loops to dry.
A surreal march through incredibly intense color that points to the things to come.
Blood and Guts.
Look at the eyes of the guys, they all know it.
Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe discuss the upcoming fight scenes - Ait Benhaddou.
The chain fight.
Maximus and Juba are linked by a chain and get their first real taste of gladiatorial combat.
The giant Ralf Moeller (Hagen) is battling with the Minotaur.
All costumes were especially made for the production. The magnificent helmets are made of fiberglass.
Some are based on motorcycle helmets.
Nick Powell was the fight master on 'Gladiator' and solely responsible for choreographing all of the fight sequences 
along with the training of all actors and stuntmen. 
Nick has some experience with large-scale combat sequences, he was the sword fight coordinator for 'Braveheart'. 
Dop John Mathieson shot a lot of the battle scenes at 45 degrees which let us clearly see how the sword of Maximus 
swings through the air.
And the Gladiators appear bigger and more agressive using a low camera position and 45 degrees.
A clever move.
Lighting was a problem here and there and Mathieson had to play with the frame rates to get the best dynamic effects.
Maximus and Juba in the Arena, ready for the last deadly blow.
Neil Corbould was the special effects & prosthetic effects supervisor on 'Gladiator' 
(and on other Ridley Scott movies).
He handled all the practical on set effects work.
Neil and his crew unleashed a perfectly choreographed stage blood splatter show with bloody wounds 
and even a few gore effects.
For 'Gladiator' he improved techniques he had designed for the the battle scenes in 'Saving Private Ryan'. 
Neil Corbould, John Nelson, Tim Burke and Rob Harvey won the Oscar for best special effects for the 'Gladiator'.
One of the 'blood rigs' Neil Corbould utilized for the Gladiator arena scenes was a wax-headed spear tip 
filled with stage blood.
The wax tip will burst and splatter blood when Maximus rams the Spear into the stomach of his opponent.
A typical 'blood rig' used in Swordplay films is the one attached directly to the sword with a small hidden 
pipe for the blood.
The pipe you see here on the picture 'feeds' the heavily bleeding wound of the black Gladiator with fresh blood.
The guy on the far right has something interesting in his hand.
This could be some kind of blood gun to throw some stage blood into the frame.
Corbould and his crew used several pressurized cylinders to throw blood into the fight scenes and 
nuggets of foam latex, which should represent pieces of human flesh. Splatter.
Too bad that some of the filmed scenes (like the one shown above) couldn't be used for the final cut 
because of the film rating boards.
Maximus on his way to Stardom.
"I wasn't the best because I killed quickly.
I was the best because the crowd loved me!
Win the crowd, and you will win your freedom."
Juba and Maxiums are ready for the Big Fights in the gigantic Colosseum in Rome.
Proximo (Oliver Reed) with his top players: Ralf Moeller, Russell Crowe and Djimon Hounsou.
Director Ridley Scott with Oliver Reed (1938–1999).
A second 'Gladiator' Story will be about how they rebuilt ancient Rome and 
how they staged the Gladiator show in the Colosseum. Tiger time!
Stay tuned!