ROME – A handful of charities and health organizations dedicated to the eradication of preventable diseases around the world were on Thursday counting contributions made by some 350 attendees to a glittering film screening in one of Rome’s most historic outdoor locations.
Nearly two decades since the premiere of Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator,” those able to attend the Rotary’s Fight to End Polio Now event paid between 1,500 and 3,000 euros ($1,775-3,550) per ticket to this time witness the film in high definition accompanied by 200 musicians and the choir of the Orchestra Italiana del Cinema inside the Colosseum.
“The Italian Cinema Orchestra, CineConcerts and Parco Archeologico del Colosseo have come together to support the eradication of Polio, a cause to benefit all the children of the world, in collaboration with Rotary International, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the event’s organizers said.
Those unable to attend Wednesday night’s show, which had Russel Crowe as the event’s special guest, were left seeking any available tickets, ranging from 50-250 euros, to attend further screenings on June 8-9, in Rome’s Circus Maximus.
The Colosseum or Flavius amphitheater, a UNESCO world heritage site, rolled out the imperial red carpet to greet the New Zealand-born Hollywood star, winner of the Best Actor Oscar in 2000 for his leading role as the Hispanic-born Roman General Maximus Decimus Meridius.
The star was greeted on arrival both by a small group of media, including EFE, and by a large contingent of fans seeking selfies and autographs outside.
Crowe said he was “very excited” the film was still so lovingly remembered.
The actor said “Gladiator” was “a very special film,” recalling the “five unforgettable months” spent on the set with British film director Scott.
Also present were Danish actress Connie Nielsen, (Lucilla in the film) and singer Lisa Gerrard who interpreted the original soundtrack, composed by Hans Zimmer, and whose ethereal voice will also accompany the forthcoming performances.
Former Italian soccer star Francesco Totti also greeted Crowe and gave him a Roma FC jersey with the number 10 and “Maximus” on its back.
The takings are set to fund the “End Polio Now” campaign and an elevator enabling wheelchairs to ascend to the Colosseum’s third level.