DVD - 2018
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The story of a gladiator who leads slaves in a rebellion against the power of Rome.
Publisher: Universal City, CA :, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment,, [2018]
Edition: Restored edition.
Branch Call Number: DVD FICTION SPA
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (197 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in.
digital,optical,surround,Dolby digital 5.1,rda
video file,DVD video,region 1,rda


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Sep 12, 2019

Executive Producer Kirk Douglas’ pet project—a 3+ hour epic revolving around the ringleader of a first century BCE Roman slave revolt—was doomed to be an epic mess from the beginning. For one thing, despite their onscreen presence, stars Laurence Olivier and Charles Laughton hated each other in real life and most everyone else put in abysmal performances including Douglas who merely parodied himself in the lead role and his love interest Jean Simmons who played a slave girl impersonating an English school matron (Peter Ustinov did deserve his Supporting Actor Oscar however as the pampered owner of a gladiatorial training camp). Then there’s blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo’s politically charged script which was accused of being commie propaganda by the ironically titled “League of Decency”, a crass musical score more suited for a rip-roaring Western, and Douglas’ ongoing hissy fits with cast and crew—Stanley Kubrick took over the reins from ousted director Anthony Mann but he’s there in name only for the finished piece bears none of his signature artistry. Historically inaccurate and falling prey to every syrupy Hollywood ploy from soft-focused schmaltz to the now famous “inspirational” scene where a mob of slaves proudly proclaim “I AM SPARTACUS!”, this restored version can only boast an epic battle sequence containing all the gory bits originally censored out and an oh-so subtle attempt at gay seduction between Olivier and Tony Curtis (playing a Sicilian house boy with a Bronx accent) which had also been excised. And this won four Academy Awards (and two more nominations) as well as a place on numerous “Must See” lists? Oh Spartacus…


The thinking man's epic movie, with superb performances and support by all concerned. Peter Ustinov, who stole practically every movie he was in, won an Oscar as supporting actor. The great musical score covers up a lot of sins, there are immense battle scenes, and particularly Laughton and Olivier stand out. Beyond doubt the best Roman Empire movie ever.

Of course, when this movie came out, people had longer attention spans, as you can tell from some of the comments.

Jan 21, 2019

And, just like 1963's white elephant, "Cleopatra" - 1960's "Spartacus" was, indeed, another one of those grossly over-expensive productions where what went on behind-the-scenes proved to be a lot more interesting than the actual film itself.

In a nutshell - It was 2 people who caused most of the problems on the set of "Spartacus".

First off - It was the temperamental and demanding actor, Kirk Douglas (hired to play the title character) who started the ball rolling by having Henry Mann fired from his job as the film's director.

And, then, secondly - When Mann was replaced by filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick, that's when the shit really hit the fan.

You see - Kubrick got himself into such a royal snit when he was flatly denied complete artistic control over the production of "Spartacus"..... And, the rest, of course, is Hollywood, movie-making history.

Jan 20, 2019

Directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1960 based on the novel of the same title by Howard Fast, this American epic docudrama depicts the life of Spartacus and the events of the Third Servile War.
The film somewhat reflects the 1950s American history, specifically HUAC hearings and the civil rights movement.
Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was blacklisted at the time as one of the Hollywood Ten.
So was Howard Fast, who wrote the novel while in prison and originally had to self-publish it.
President-elect John F. Kennedy crossed American Legion picket lines to view the film, helping to end blacklisting.
The comment of how slavery was a central part of American history is pointed to in the beginning in the scenes featuring Draba and Spartacus.
The fight to end segregation and to promote the equality of African-Americans is seen in the mixing of races within the gladiator school as well as in the army of Spartacus where all fight for freedom.

Jan 01, 2019

With its grueling 3-hour-15-minute running time - 1960's "Spartacus" seriously cried out for some major editing. I'd say that a least an hour could've have easily been cut from this film's over-long story-line and it wouldn't have affected the story's coherency one bit.

And, on top of that - I found that the title character (played by Kirk Douglas) was presented as if he were some kind of a glowing saint (like Christ) where he had no faults or quirks, whatsoever. In other words - He was not in the least bit believable.

As I understand it - This $12 million production was plagued with all sorts of behind-the-scenes disputes and in-fighting that had certain members of its cast and crew, literally, at each other's throats, and throwing temper tantrums, too. Ha! What a zoo!

plotline May 02, 2017

Controlling Stanley: The Spartacus Experience

As most are undoubtedly aware this is the film that the director virtually expunged from his repertoire. But why did Stanley Kubrick really disown SPARTACUS (1960)? The answer can be summed up in two words: absolute control. Kubrick wanted total administrative as well as artistic authority over the making of the film about a revolt of gladiators and slaves in ancient Rome.

But you will notice that Bryna Productions not only financed SPARTACUS but also an earlier film directed by Kubrick, PATHS OF GLORY (1958).

Bryna was Kirk Douglas' film company and, as most filmgoers know, he was the star of both films. Besides having all the money to make the films, Douglas had artistic vision as well. Only three weeks into what would prove to be an incredibly complex and arduous production, Douglas fired venerable director Anthony Mann (RAW DEAL, RAILROADED,THE FURIES, THE NAKED SPUR, THE MAN FROM LARAMIE, MAN OF THE WEST, etc.) from SPARTACUS. With only two days notice, Kubrick was hired to replace him.

While shooting PATHS OF GLORY, Douglas confined his criticisms and objections to Kubrick's failed rewriting of the script (they went with the original screenplay). Yet Douglas' complaints and artistic influence were far greater on SPARTACUS, much to Kubrick's chagrin. Though the director craved autonomy over every aspect of the film, Douglas would not budge. A tense compromise was reached but ultimately Douglas had the last word. Kubrick saw himself as just a hired gun. And he would never allow himself to be placed in this position again.
Later, both men would complain about the film's outcome and each other. They never made another movie together.

But SPARTACUS is no uneven patchwork of divergent ideas. The film is cohesive and arresting. At the restored version of three hours and eighteen minutes, there is practically no dead footage in the film. Dalton Trumbo's screenplay is surprisingly economical, with sharply drawn characters placed against the sweeping historical majesty and violent sociological tumult of ancient Rome. Quite plainly, the gloriously inventive music by Alex North is among the greatest scores ever written for a motion picture. And despite Kubrick's bad experience, he managed to guide the actors towards creating outstanding work (a best supporting actor Oscar for Peter Ustinov). He even transformed the very real enmity between Laughton and Olivier into an on-screen asset. His other contributions were considerable also (the large scale and power of the battle sequence, for example). In the end, for the film at least, the clash of giant egos proved fortuitous.

Recommendations: for greater insight and detail on this and Kubrick's other films I urge you to seek out Jan Harlan's excellent documentary, STANLEY KUBRICK: A LIFE IN PICTURES, and Vincent LoBrutto's exhaustive, highly informative biography, STANLEY KUBRICK. For the producer's views on SPARTACUS and its director, take a gander at Kirk Douglas' very candid autobiography, THE RAGMAN'S SON.

Apr 22, 2017

Great movie by the greatest. Director of all time but not a real Kubrickian masterpiece. Kirk Douglas almost make it unwatchable. See the the Spartacus original t.v. show for a more nobler version of the famous historical figure.

d2013 Jul 01, 2014

Excellent movie!

May 05, 2014

The high bar for Roman movies.

kevfarley Apr 16, 2014

A great classic. Well worth revisiting,.. or a first viewing by younger generations.

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Laura_X May 29, 2015

I'm Spartacus!

May 26, 2012


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