booksmusicfilmsTV.com/Peace & Freedom Press Classic Film Reviews

SPARTACUS
(1960)

Kirk Douglas is at his most charismatic as slave rebel leader Spartacus taking on the mighty Roman army.

Based on fact, and beautifully made, this film is laden with talent, with the precocious Stanley Kubrick directing, outstanding, beautiful and original music from Alex North, and evocative Oscar-winning photography from Russell Metty.

Written by Dalton Trumbo, and inspired by Howard Fast's novel, 'Spartacus' uplifts, moves, and, ultimately, saddens.

Spartacus is a Thracian slave with attitude. He's taken to a gladiator school, where the sadistic trainer Marcellus (Charles McGraw) tries to knock him into shape, and eventually meets his just desserts at the hands of Spartacus. Spared by fellow gladiator Draba (movingly played by Woody Strode), in a fight to the death in one on one combat, Spartacus makes Rome regret his lucky escape. Draba attacks his tormentors and ends up losing his life, but inspires Spartacus to rebel against his captors, and when he sees the love of his life, Varinia, being taken from him, he finally cracks, and the revolt begins.

Laurence Olivier is brilliant as the cold, brooding, and obsessive Roman commander Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Peter Ustinov's Oscar for Best Supporting Actor as the sly, fawning Lentulus Batiatus is well merited. Jean Simmons is beautiful and serene as Varinia, and so lovely she even melts the heart of Crassus. Charles Laughton plays old senator Sempronius Gracchus with a twinkle, and Tony Curtis is mellow as Antoninus, a "singer of songs" cum warrior, who Spartacus kills to save from crucifixion. Herbert Lom puts in a fine cameo performance as a salivating, money grabbing pirate envoy.

The battle scenes are massively impressive in terms of realism and sheer scale, and the rows of crucified slaves chilling, and underlines the fact that civilized Rome wasn't very civilized at all - just more powerful than everyone else.

The end of the film is mainly depressing, though there are some chinks of light. Varinia tells Spartacus that his son will be free, and the nobleness of the suffering Spartacus is in sharp contrast to that of the vile Crassus.

- Paul Rance/booksmusicfilmstv.com.

Spartacus Main Cast List
Kirk Douglas as Spartacus
Laurence Olivier as Marcus Licinius Crassus
Jean Simmons as Varinia
Charles Laughton as Sempronius Gracchus
Peter Ustinov as Lentulus Batiatus
John Gavin as Julius Caesar
Nina Foch as Helena Glabrus
John Ireland as Crixus
Herbert Lom as Tigranes Levantus
John Dall as Marcus Publius Glabrus
Charles McGraw as Marcellus
Joanna Barnes as Claudia Marius
Harold J. Stone as David (as Harold J. Stone)
Woody Strode as Draba
Peter Brocco as Ramon

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

 

Amazon DVDs of the film

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'Spartacus DVD' Spartacus
Product image for ASIN: 0783226039 Spartacus
Product image for ASIN: B000GYHUC6 Gladiator/Spartacus
Product image for ASIN: B000HT3Q0U Spartacus [HD DVD]
 
Spartacus - Criterion Collection Spartacus - Criterion Collection

 

 

 

Amazon Videos of the film

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Product image for ASIN: B00004RQ05 Spartacus
Product image for ASIN: B000054OW2 Spartacus

 

Amazon Book relevant to this film

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Product image for ASIN: 0439981875 Spartacus and His Glorious Gladiators
Author: Clive Goddard
Product image for ASIN: 0750939079 Spartacus
Author: M.J. Trow

 

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