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
During the arduous, long shoot, Tony Curtis allegedly asked Jean Simmons, "Who do I have to fuck to get off this film?" Some versions of the interaction include Simmons shouting back, "When you find out, let me know." See more »
At the beginning of the major battle between the legions of Rome and Spartacus's army, one shot shows the Roman standard in centre-frame, with another at the extreme left of the screen. The Roman standard would contain the letters, SPQR - Senatus Populusque Romanus - but the one in centre-frame here clearly shows SPOR. There is no mistake of this in the restoration released on Blu-ray. Strangely, the standard seen at the extreme left has SPQR, with a small mark at the lower right of the Q which may have been a prop-master's afterthought. One is tempted to believe that all the props were manufactured with SPOR, and some changed at the last minute. But not the one in centre-frame as the battle begins. 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.
Spartacus or How I learnt to live away from Hollywood
This is Kubrick's farewell to Hollywood. I would have liked to be a fly on the wall. I don't believe for a minute that it was a cordial parting of the ways. I mean, Kubrick never returned, never! With "Paths of Glory" Kubrick gave Kirk Douglas, not just his best part as an actor, but his best movie. By the time Douglas called Kubrick to "take over" "Spartacus" Douglas was already a huge star with too much saying in the matter. Look at it, it's clear. "Spartacus" is more Douglas than Kubrick. Great fun to watch, yes, absolutely. A terrific script by black listed Dalton Trumbo. Some fight sequences unequalled in the history of film. Look at the fight between Douglas and Woody Strode and compare it to the ones in "Troy" or "Gladiator" for that matter. It is sad an embarrassing to realise how low we've fallen. Computer generated images or not. The cast is unbelievable but it's clearly not Kubrick's. The casting of his movies was part of his master plan. He would cast a Ryan O'Neil as Barry Lyndon for instance so he can blend perfectly with the magnificent tapestry, without adding any colours of his own. The same can be said of Keir Dullea, in 2001, a robotic non entity in a showdown with a voice. When he needed actors to be at the very pinnacle of his universe he went to Peter Sellers, Malcolm McDowell or James Mason. Even the casting of Tom Cruise made a lot of sense. He used the star and his wife to talk about the dreamlike powers of betrayal. In "Spartacus" Tony Curtis, plays Antoninus, a teacher of the classics. A campy idea never seen in a Kubrick film, before or since. To be fair, there are some spot on, brilliant pieces of casting. Charles Laughton is, as usual, superb. Peter Ustinov, terrific. Laurence Olivier manages to give a multifaceted portrait of weakness, fear and greed. Jean Simmons makes the reason to survive totally believable. But the cutesy love scene between her and a shiny muscular, coiffed Spartacus is truly terrible. As a final blow, the scene is enveloped in a sticky, corny music theme. Having said all that. Don't you dare missing this epic. I'ts Kubrick's goodbye to Hollywood and like everything else that the master said or do, he really meant it.
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