One of the combat sports which thrilled the crowds in the circuses of Ancient Rome was the pitting of blind men against ostriches. A savage and ugly spectacle, no doubt, and one quite out of keeping with our modern sensibilities, to say nothing of health and safety legislation. Yet I canâ€™t help feeling that it would make a tremendous subject for a Gladiator-style movie blockbuster. The Antipodean player Russell Crowe â€“ or, as I prefer to think of him, the Artist Formerly Known As Bouffanted Rockabilly Star Russ Le Roq â€“ is so talented an actor one can imagine him playing either a blind man or, caked in prosthetics, an ostrich. What with the computer generated wizardry available to todayâ€™s film-makers, he could appear on our screens as both antagonists, and indeed, his image multiplied a thousandfold, as the baying blood-crazed crowd.
I may put my mind to drafting a screenplay, in which our hero is, letâ€™s say, an Ancient Roman haruspex who is blinded when a struggling chicken whose entrails he is attempting to rip out pokes its taloned feet into his eyes. From there it is a short and sorry journey to the Colosseum, where an enraged and starving ostrich awaits. It strikes me that, if there is a need to do the film on the cheap, a high-tech ostrich outfit could be dispensed with. Russell Crowe is, famously, a knitting enthusiast, and given the right wool he could knit his own ostrich costume.
Add a musical soundtrack of bumptious ditties by Randy Newman, and I suspect this could be a surefire hit.