In 73 B.C., a Thracian slave leads a revolt at a gladiatorial school run by Lentulus Batiatus (Sir Peter Ustinov). The uprising soon spreads across the Italian Peninsula involving thousand of slaves. The plan is to acquire sufficient funds to acquire ships from Silesian pirates who could then transport them to other lands from Brandisium in the south. The Roman Senator Gracchus (Charles Laughton) schemes to have Marcus Publius Glabrus (John Dall), Commander of the garrison of Rome, lead an army against the slaves who are living on Vesuvius. When Glabrus is defeated his mentor, Senator and General Marcus Licinius Crassus (Sir Laurence Olivier) is greatly embarrassed and leads his own army against the slaves. Spartacus and the thousands of freed slaves successfully make their way to Brandisium only to find that the Silesians have abandoned them. They then turn north and must face the might of Rome.Written by
Kirk Douglas describes this movie as a love story: "Love predominates all through the movie: love between Spartacus and Varinia, love among the men. The whole revolt was based on a love of freedom, a love of humanity." See more »
When the slave gladiators revolt and break out of the kitchen. They make for a tall wrought iron fence, each spindle in the fence is one lone piece with a spear point at the top of each. The slaves manage to knock down a section of this fence, with about 10 pointed spindles. A number of them take up the section of fence and run at the guards. While it might be an interesting idea. As they run at the guards, the ones in their path just lay down. The section of fence passes over them and continues on. While the soldiers were never touched they can be seen laying on the ground making themselves as small as possible with their shields over them. Without wounds they continue to lay there. See more »
In the last century before the birth of the new faith called Christianity, which was destined to overthrow the pagan tyranny of Rome and bring about a new society, the Roman Republic stood at the very center of the civilized world. "Of all things fairest," sang the poet, "first among cities and home of the gods is golden Rome." Yet, even at the zenith of her pride and power, the Republic lay fatally stricken with a disease called human slavery. The age of the dictator was at hand, ...
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The opening titles appear in a montage of silhouetted Roman sculptures and tablets, which evokes the strength and power of the Roman Empire. The montage ends with a zoom into the eye of a crumbling Roman bust, which hints at the Empire's coming decline and fall. See more »
The film premiered at 202 minutes. However, the prints from the premiere were lost in the 1970s when Universal threw out all the film's tracks, outtakes, additional prints etc. (This was parallel to 'John Landis'' claim during his work on creating the director's cut of The Blues Brothers). The Criterion Collection has 4 minutes of lost scenes involving the Gracchus subplot:
1.) After the first senatorial meeting scene, Gracchus and Caesar walk around the market discussing the dirty tactic of fishing votes. (Shown in production-still form)
2.) Gracchus commits suicide by slitting his wrist in the bathtub. This occurred immediately after he closes the curtain near the end of the film. Only the audio track was found in the studio vault.
The darkest historical epic. No dancing girls, no chariot races, filmed in sombre browns and reds. Nominally directed by Kubrick but Douglas, as a very 'hands on' producer was responsable for the operatic sweep of the film. I was astonished when revisiting the film in 1991 at the cinema at the bravery of the project-to have the hero cry several times, once even out of self pity and with a heart rending ending! The film has depth and weight, the characters are well drawn. The performances are almost flawless, Douglas managing as actor to create tension in each scene-Olivier, not withstanding his eyerolling mannerisms is perfectly cast. The minor parts are richly drawn-gravel voiced Charles McGraw, Herbert Lom and Woody Strode. The cinematography and music are flawless. Only John Dall as a very modern Glaberus and John Ireland as Crixus seem out of place. Ironically, despite the downbeat tone of the film it is impossible to watch it without being uplifted through your tears of compassion. Unofficialy remade as Braveheart...watch one after the other and you'll see the similarities in mood, theme and even the battle choreography. Spartacus would be my 'desert island' movie.
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