Ridley Scott deleted one of Gladiator’s most brutal scenes from the final cut. Gladiator marked a major comeback for Scott, who had suffered several duds during the ’90s, including 1492: Conquest of Paradise and White Squall. Gladiator is an epic historical drama that reminded audiences what a master storyteller the helmer could be and also featured a star-making performance from Russell. While not strictly an action movie, the battle sequences were also thrillingly staged.


The Ridley Scott movie didn’t shy away from the brutality of the era either, from its large bodycount to several gory demises. It would have been tough for Gladiator to do justice to the era it’s depicting without making use of its well-earned R-rating; hopefully, Scott’s upcoming Gladiator 2 would try to water things down. Scott is famed for his director cuts too, but while Gladiator does have an “extended edition” on home media, the helmer has stated the theatrical version IS his director’s cut. The filmmaker actually trimmed quite a few scenes from Gladiator, including one that introduced Crowe’s Maximus to the horrors of the Colosseum.

Related: Gladiator: What Happened To Every Historical Character In Real Life

Gladiator Cut A Scene Where Christians Were Fed To Lions

A lion snarling in The Ghost and the Darkness

A brief deleted scene found on the Gladiator DVD features Maximus exploring beneath the Colosseum. He observes some lions in a cage, who are soon released into the Colosseum itself. Maximus then looks out into the amphitheater, where he witnesses a Christian woman kneeling and holding onto two small children. One of them looks at Maximus before turning away as the Lion approaches and starts pawing the women; knowing what comes next, Maximus turns away before the attack can begin. While not graphic in the least, the implications of this moment would have made it one of Gladiator’s darkest scenes.

Why Ridley Scott Cut Gladiator’s Lion Scene

Maximus looking solemn in Gladiator

Scott cut this Gladiator lion scene for the simple reason that it lacked the impact he was seeking. In the sequence itself, the lion is seen slowly approaching and then gently nudging the woman, but Scott felt the entire moment was too passive. Since depicting the attack in gory detail would have been (thankfully) out of the question Scott removed it entirely, and the film largely avoids referring to the persecution of Christians.

Gladiator doesn’t miss this deleted lion scene, but it would have served as an ominous early sign of the brutality ahead. In terms of Maximus’ story, it’s more impactful that he has little idea of what the Colosseum looks like before running out for his first battle. Ultimately, Scott was wise to snip out this Gladiator lion scene, as it lacked the punch it was aiming for.

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