The opening scene of Gladiator, depicting a Battle in Germania between Roman soldiers and an army of barbarians remains a favorite among audiences. The film begins with the Roman soldiers and barbarian forces on opposite sides of one another in the dead of winter. The Romans open fire on the barbarians with scorpions and flaming catapults (burning the forests down) before the two armies charge one another. The Romans remain disciplined and form a shield wall, but the tenacity of the barbarians means the latter are on the verge of a breakthrough until Roman General Maximus and his cavalry charge through the flames and attack the barbarians from behind.
Numerous barbarians are cut down and, unable to fight on two sides at once, either surrender or flee. The film also depicts many other battle scenes in the gladiatorial arena, but the opening battle sequence as described above is arguably the most famous in the film.