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The location

INTRODUCTION


"Maximus. You commanded legions? You had many victories?"
"Yes."
"In Germania?"

Entrance to Bourne Wood

Well, not exactly.

When the makers of Gladiator needed a place to film the massive battle which forms the opening sequence, their search took them to Farnham, England. Here they found a beautiful woodland location with everything they needed, plus the blessing of the Forestry Commission to burn some of it down! And so it was that the decisive conflict of the Germanian Campaign was fought not beside the icy Danube, but just off the A31 in Surrey.

Having been deeply impressed by the film, and seeing the name of the wood in various interviews, we made it an ambition to visit the location. Early intentions were to go during the winter months, when the weather and lighting would be as close to the film as possible; circumstances prevented this however, and by the time we finally made the journey it was the middle of June, and what turned out to be the hottest day of the year! Blazing sunshine may not be quite in the spirit of the film, but at least it made for better photographs.

Armed with a photocopied map kindly provided by the office of the Town Clerk, we arrived in the morning. We had no idea of what - if anything - we would find. Had the fires seen in the film altered or destroyed the area? Worst of all, did the battlefield really exist or was it just a product of the same computer graphics which built Rome? We needn't have worried.

We parked the car at the unassuming entrance to the wood and started in. Following the uphill road to the end we emerged onto a flat, sandy plateau which afforded a gorgeous view of a huge clearing. Even though this was not an angle familiar from the film, we knew right away that this was the location. It felt right. Before long we had worked out what went where, and we then set about visiting as many as possible of the settings we had seen on the screen.

First view of the area

The initial view of the area as seen from the northern outlook point.

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