Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Produced by Edward Lewis
Written by Dalton Trumbo & Howard Fast (Novel)
Music by Alex North
Cinematography Russell Metty
Editing by Robert Lawrence
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) October 7, 1960
Running time 184 minutes
Country United States
Spartacus is an epic gladiator film from 1960. It is from a time when long movies had intermissions so that patrons could go to the bathroom or buy a Coke, popcorn and a choc-top before watching the second half of the film. These types of films also allow the home-viewer a chance to take a break too, before putting disc 2 into the machine. In fact I actually watched part 1 of the film this morning before going to work and part two when I got home. I should also make a note that I borrowed this DVD from the local public library.
The film follows the life of Spartacus, a slave who is sold to a gladiator school but then causes a revolt, before turning his attention to freeing the rest of Rome’s slaves. While the action and the battle scenes are very good, there is also a good insight into the (fictionalised) political maneuverings in ancient Rome. It is fun to see how the Senators and the generals are at times more willing to find a way to humiliate the other and diminish their rivals’ political standing, than fight the slave army of Spartacus.
The film stars Kirk Douglas as Spartacus and features some of Hollywood’s all-time greats. Kirk is very charismatic as the freed slave but it just feels like Spartacus is an extension of his own natural persona and that he is just playing Kirk Douglas. The only difference here from his performance in 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea is that here he is a little more intense, and less clownish, but the similarities of the two performances are there. That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy his performance here.
In fact I enjoyed Spartacus so much that I will buy the DVD for myself to watch over and over. In fact the only thing I didn’t enjoy about the film is the condition of the DVD that I borrowed, as when it got to the 48 minute mark of disc two the picture kept freezing and jumping. I always thought that DVDs were meant to be indestructible but I do notice that there are several discs at the two public libraries that I belong to that are almost unwatchable. I know that I lovingly take care of my own DVDs and none are scratched or damaged at all, but it seems that when people borrow DVDs from the library that they just don’t care how they treat them, hence the damage that I often find in library discs.