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
Slaves digging with steel shovels of a pattern invented in the early 20th century instead of Roman wooden spades. 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.
"I do know that, as long as we live, we must remain true to ourselves."
SPARTACUS is an adventurous drama in which an idea about freedom has resisted to strength of a glorious Roman Empire. A bloody and romantic tragedy is filled with historical inaccuracies.
A proud and gifted man named Spartacus, is so uncooperative in his servitude that he is sentenced to fight as a gladiator. He was transferred to a school for gladiators, led by a sly Roman businessman. Spartacus, despite harassment at school, forms a quiet relationship with a serving woman. A Roman senator, who aims to become dictator of Rome, has visited the businessman and his school. Two women from his entourage want to enjoy the fights to the death. Spartacus is one of the selected gladiators. This fight will change awareness among slaves...
The main protagonist is a kind of "trigger" , who has changed the political situation in Rome. An arrogant and uneducated slave has risen from the bottom through an immortal idea of freedom. Mr. Kubrick has very meticulously processed topics related to leadership, true love, politicking and dictatorship. He has, regardless of the historical inaccuracies, skilfully pointed out a ruin of the great empire. The ideas of eternity can be interpreted as a kind of paradox or fear. Unlike other epic films from that time, Christian motifs were replaced with determination and desire for freedom. Dealing with "tricky" issues is important in this film. Mr. Kubrick, in a very clear way, shows scenes of sexual desire, homosexuality, bisexuality, and even torture through scenes of crucifixion.
Scenery is impressive, especially in the final battle. Soundtrack is great. Characterization is reflected in a sort of rivalry. Rivalry in love and politics.
Kirk Douglas as Spartacus has offered a good performance. The tension in his face is a reflection of seriousness of his character. He is not overly romantic, but he has a remarkable sense of leadership and fellowship. Jean Simmons as Varinia is an attractive slave and a very strong woman, who shows her pride, love and character in almost every scene. Laurence Olivier as Crassus is the main antagonist and a very complex character. He is actually an unfortunate character, because he can not feel the love and the freedom.
There is always interesting and entertaining Charles Laughton as Gracchus. Peter Ustinov, in my view, did not deserve an Oscar for the role of a wily and manipulative Batiatus. Tony Curtis as Antoninus is a bit theatrical and unconvincing as an artist among the gladiators.
This is an exciting epic adventure in combination with the political drama. Some ideas are truly eternal.
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