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
Film preservationist Robert A. Harris said that by 1991, the camera negative for this movie was completely faded and unusable. Nothing could be done to produce any printing material from that element. Color separation elements made on black-and-white film in the early 1960s were used instead. See more »
Near the end of the film, Gracchus asks Batiatus to take Varinia and her baby to Aquitania. Nevertheless, Aquitania would be conquered for the Roman Empire by Julius Caesar some decades later, and it took even more time setting up a stable Roman civil government in the Province. 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 »
European prints of the film contained a scene in which a nude Jean Simmons bathes in a pond. Stills and lobby cards exist, but the scene has not appeared in any re-issue. See more »
I think the movie is quite good; what I want to add to the comments already made is just this:
The commentary (on the DVD) by screenplay writer Dalton Trumbo is great. Kirk Douglas said it was the greatest analysis of film-making ever. He explains the purpose of every scene, very openly and honestly critiquing the changes the actors made, for (in his estimation) better or worse.
There is another track of commentary by the actors. The actors had an unusual degree of latitude in re-writing their lines and forming their characters.
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