7.9/10
118,758
312 user 124 critic

Spartacus (1960)

Trailer
2:43 | Trailer
The slave Spartacus leads a violent revolt against the decadent Roman Republic.

Director:

Stanley Kubrick

Writers:

Dalton Trumbo (screenplay), Howard Fast (based on the novel by)
Reviews
Popularity
1,848 ( 166)
Won 4 Oscars. Another 8 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kirk Douglas ... Spartacus
Laurence Olivier ... Crassus
Jean Simmons ... Varinia
Charles Laughton ... Gracchus
Peter Ustinov ... Batiatus
John Gavin ... Julius Caesar
Nina Foch ... Helena Glabrus
John Ireland ... Crixus
Herbert Lom ... Tigranes Levantus
John Dall ... Marcus Publius Glabrus
Charles McGraw ... Marcellus
Joanna Barnes ... Claudia Marius
Harold J. Stone ... David
Woody Strode ... Draba
Peter Brocco ... Ramon

In Memoriam: Kirk Douglas (1916 to 2020)

IMDb honors Kirk Douglas, the iconic Spartacus actor, award-winning producer, World War II veteran, and humanitarian, who passed away at 103 years old.

Watch the video

Learn more

More Like This 

Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

After refusing to attack an enemy position, a general accuses the soldiers of cowardice and their commanding officer must defend them.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou
Lolita (1962)
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A middle-aged college professor becomes infatuated with a fourteen-year-old nymphet.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: James Mason, Shelley Winters, Sue Lyon
Barry Lyndon (1975)
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

An Irish rogue wins the heart of a rich widow and assumes her dead husband's aristocratic position in 18th-century England.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Ryan O'Neal, Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee
The Killing (1956)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Crook Johnny Clay assembles a five man team to plan and execute a daring race-track robbery.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards
Killer's Kiss (1955)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Ready to catch a train to his hometown, a washed up boxer tells us about the strange and twisty events that happened to him the past couple of days.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Frank Silvera, Irene Kane, Jamie Smith
Drama | Thriller | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

Four soldiers trapped behind enemy lines must confront their fears and desires.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Frank Silvera, Kenneth Harp, Paul Mazursky
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a War Room full of politicians and generals frantically tries to stop.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A New York City doctor embarks on a harrowing, night-long odyssey of sexual and moral discovery after his wife reveals a painful secret to him.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Todd Field
Ben-Hur (1959)
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

After a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd
Documentary | Short | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

After a short study of boxing's history, narrated by newscaster Douglas Edwards, we follow a day in the life of a middleweight Irish boxer named Walter Cartier.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Douglas Edwards, Nat Fleischer, Walter Cartier
Adventure | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

After discovering a mysterious artifact buried beneath the Lunar surface, mankind sets off on a quest to find its origins with help from intelligent supercomputer H.A.L. 9000.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting in Hue.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, Vincent D'Onofrio

Photos

Edit

Storyline

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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It roars with fierce excitement! See more »


Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

In his autobiography, Kirk Douglas admitted that he replaced Anthony Mann because he felt he was "too docile", especially for the powerful actors dominating the cast. He added, "He seemed scared of the scope of the picture." See more »

Goofs

This is a romantic allegory of 20th century social ills, using an ancient setting to make a point (see trivia). It is not a historical documentary, nor a biopic. Though many of the main characters were real people, they are used fictitiously, as explained in the ending disclaimer. Most apparent errors in costume, custom, design, dialect, politics, armaments, etc., are specifically exempt from this list for the same reason. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: 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, ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Alternate Versions

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 »

Connections

Referenced in Deadly Nightmares: Man's Best Friend (1985) See more »

User Reviews

 
More Trumbo than Kubrick
26 November 2019 | by davidmviningSee all my reviews

Kubrick dismissed several of his early films from his canon. Fear and Desire makes sense because of its amateurishness while Killer's Kiss has some similar problems (though I feel it's a successful movie overall). Spartacus, though, isn't about quality but more about authorship.

Out of all the feature narrative films Stanley Kubrick, he produced most of and had writing credits on all of them except Spartacus. The history was that Kirk Douglas, as producer, had hired Anthony Mann to direct the film but fired him (for unclear reasons) after a week of filming. In desperate need of a director as quickly as possible, Douglas called up Kubrick, with whom he had made Paths of Glory, and Kubrick took the job. He hadn't written a word and had say in only one casting decision (that of Varinia, a character that hadn't begun filming yet, who was played by Jean Simmons). There is even a story of Douglas asking Kubrick what he thought of the famous "I am Spartacus" scene just before filming it. Kubrick admitted that he thought it was stupid, and Douglas openly berated his director (and, as producer, employee) for the opinion. Notice that this scene was filmed and included in the final cut.

So, I think it's easy to see why Kubrick, who had such complete control of literally every other movie he made, would feel a certain distance regarding Spartacus. It's more of a creative output for Dalton Trumbo and Kirk Douglas than Stanley Kubrick.

So, Spartacus is a curio in the Kubrick filmography. It sticks out like a sore thumb. It's too bright, colorful, and optimistic, and yet it's still good.

The slave Spartacus gets purchased from a salt mine to a gladiatorial school where he learns how to kill. When the Roman senator Crassus visits the Batiatus, the owner of the school, he pays for a pair of to the death combats. This is the spark that leads to the beginning of the slave revolt the next day. Spartacus leads the gladiators to form into an army and raid, pillage, and sweep across southern Italy to a port city where they will pay for ships to carry them away from the Roman Empire.

The movie is at its best when either Crassus, played by Laurence Olivier, Gracchus, played by Charles Laughton, or Batiatus, played by Peter Ustinov, are on screen. They are thankfully center stage for much of the film. Crassus is the personification of Rome at its most dangerous, affluent, and corrupt. A man of no morals, he revels in his power over the world. Gracchus is a man of appetites who revels in the fights of the Roman Senate, countering Crassus with intelligence and wit. Batiatus is a working man who built up his wealth through the creation of his gladiatorial school. He shares a special corpulent bond with Gracchus and the two have some of the most fun written scenes in the film.

Spartacus, unfortunately, is just not that interesting. Once freed from slavery, his drive of necessity is replaced by a gauzy need for freeing slaves. He's purely an idealist of no fault. This is a direct result of Dalton Trumbo's communism. The way he painted Spartacus, as the faultless ideal, was in line with the then socialist artistic norm of portraying what was essentially the New Socialist Man. Douglas liked this because he got to play the hero, but Kubrick thought he was uninteresting and a wash of the more interesting history of the real Spartacus who unnecessarily turned from northern Italy towards Rome to continue raiding instead of escaping like he could. But, as we've already seen, Kubrick had little say on this movie's characters and story.

There are hints of themes that Kubrick had been, and would continue to, dealing with. The first hour at the gladiatorial school is all about the dehumanization of man at the whim of a larger, impersonal, and inhuman system. This falls directly in line with the events of Paths of Glory. The ending of both movies echo each other to certain degrees. In Paths of Glory sees the system win, as it does in Spartacus. However, in the Roman epic, there are hints of optimism as Varinia holds up Spartacus' baby boy to him, pledging to carry on the boy's father's name and cause. That sort of optimism is missing from Paths of Glory, and, really, most of Kubrick's filmography until Eyes Wide Shut, I think.

Where Kubrick was able to shine was in the movie's visual design. He had little say in set construction, costumes, and locations (though he apparently convinced the producers to shoot the famed battle in Spain instead of America), but he had full control of his camera. Compositions carry that intelligent and clear dynamism he was known for. The most striking imagery might be the gladiatorial fight between Spartacus and Draba. In the foreground we see the two in their small box as two others rise, pass through the narrow opening at the center of frame with Marcellus in the middle and Crassus at the top of frame. It's an elegant composition that shows a visualist making the most of the conditions he had.

There are also several action scenes that are surprisingly well filmed. Not that I don't imagine Kubrick had the ability, but the most action he had filmed was the chase in Killer's Kiss and the long tracking shots over no man's land in Paths of Glory. They were nothing like the dynamic and violent action in the gladiatorial fight, the uprising, and, especially, the battle near the end of the film.

In the end, the movie's certainly good, but it's got too many authorial hands moving it in different directions. Instead of William Wyler getting support from producers and star to make Ben-Hur in the best possible way, we had a screenwriter insisting on less interesting characterizations, a producer and star who seemed more interested in making himself look good than telling a story, and a director that couldn't pursue anything like his own vision. It's a compromised film that amazingly works as well as it does.


3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 312 user reviews »

Videos

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 November 1960 (Brazil) See more »

Also Known As:

Spartacus: Rebel Against Rome See more »

Filming Locations:

Spain See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$92,162, 28 April 1991

Gross USA:

$1,830,650

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,836,351
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Bryna Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (premiere) | (1968 re-release) | (1967 re-release) | (1991 restored) | (theatrical) | (2015 restored)

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Mono (35 mm prints)| Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints) (1991 restoration)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series



Recently Viewed