I’m Spartacus!

Spartacus is an inspirational historical epic. One year after Ben-Hur, Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas sought a similar project to make up for losing the title role. Spartacus is also a hero who stood against the Roman Empire, but the Howard Fast novel and Stanley Kubrick film both take place Before Christ. Although he was relatively unknown at the time, Kubrick was given a massive budget on par with Ben-Hur. Even though Kubrick didn’t have full creative control, his meticulous style made the movie what it is. More violent and/or sexual scenes had to be restored years late.

Spartacus is also responsible for ending the controversial Hollywood blacklist. Since Douglas openly supported blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Many of the movie’s themes can be interpreted that way. Spartacus is another 3 hour epic that held my attention from beginning to end. Spartacus is a rebellious slave trained as a gladiator before inciting an uprising that made him the leader of a gladiatorial army. Douglas barely says a word, but his intense dedication speaks for itself. Spartacus falls in love with a fellow slave named Varnina played by the lovely Jean Simmons. Varnina’s struggles are just as intense as her husband. Tony Curtis plays a young slave who forms a bond with the hero.

Laurence Olivier is just as commanding as Spartacus’ sworn Roman enemy Crassus. The Roman Senate tries to stop Spartacus, but only Crassus takes it personally. Charles Laughton plays one of the more reasonable members of the Senate, while John Gavin plays the more well known Julius Caesar. Out of all these respected actors, only Peter Ustinov managed to win Best Supporting Actor as a bumbling slave trader. Spartacus wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, but it did win Best Art Direction, Cinematography, and Costume Design. Of course Spartacus is more remembered for the pivotal line “I’m Spartacus!” where his men refuse to give him up. It’s a powerful moment that doesn’t ensure a happy ending, but Spartacus will continue to live on.

Spartacus

Spartacus leads his army

2 thoughts on “I’m Spartacus!

  1. A very solid film to be sure, one of the top 5 and 10 in best underdog standing against the biggest odds stories. I actually thought it was a little slow in spots, but it was definitely engaging all the way through. Spartacus was also the first Hollywood epic to get The Criterion Collection treatment on DVD, but surprisingly no Blu Ray.

    Liked by 1 person

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