A slave named Spartacus (Kirk Douglas), starts a rebellion against the Roman Republic. Spartacus travels the country freeing slaves as he goes and building up an army. It’s up to Crassus (Laurence Olivier) to put an end to the rebellion.
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov
MPAA Rating: N/A
Fun Fact: Peter Ustinov is the only actor from a Stanley Kubrick film to when an Academy Award for acting.
I’m a big fan of Stanley Kubrick, as I’ve seen a few of his films and enjoyed them all. Spartacus is one of those films that I’ve always wanted to see but, never got the chance to sit down and watch it. Thanks to TCM and DVR I could sit down and see it for the first time.
It’s a fantastic film and I’m glad it was worth the wait. It took them two years to get it done and it delivers. There’s a reason why it’s an epic as you get that feel throughout the whole film. The landscapes and the scenes where the slaves are traveling just feel huge. While most of the action happens off screen, you hear about it and it slowly builds up to the big battle in the end. The final battle delivers in the end and we even see a Roman soldier get his arm cut off. Which surprised me because I don’t think I’ve ever really seen something like that in a movie from that time era.
With Kubrick’s direction and Kirk Douglas’ producing work, we really care about the characters. You want to see Spartacus succeed in his quest and you feel bad that him and other characters are slaves. They don’t want to be gladiators but, have no choice in the matter. There is one scene that is so powerful that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Spartacus and three other slaves are chosen to participate in gladiator contests. Spartacus and a fellow gladiator are in the second match. While the first match is going on, Spartacus and the other gladiator just stare at each other not saying a word. Just the emotion in the silence is all you need. You don’t want to see them die, you want them to live.
As stated in the Fun Fact Peter Ustinov won an Oscar for his performance. While he delivered, the rest of the cast does as well. Laurence Olivier was perfect as Crassus and he convinced me that his character was a horrible person. He didn’t care at all that the slaves were just people and all he cared about was himself and no one else.
Overall Spartacus was worth the wait for me. I’m glad I finally saw it and it really has an epic feel to it. Check it out if you want to see good performances, and great direction from Stanley Kubrick.