SPARTACUS, based on Howard Fast's popular novel, is Stanley Kubrick's glorious masterpiece about a slave uprising in Rome in 70 B.C. Kirk Douglas, who also served as executive producer, stars as the title character, a man born of a slave woman and a slave master who has known nothing but chains his entire life. After being forced to put on a gladiator show--that almost leads to his death--for wealthy Romans (including a marvelously conniving Laurence Olivier as the power-hungry Crassus), Spartacus leads a slave revolt across Italy that soon has thousands marching on Rome. Meanwhile, he has fallen in love with the beautiful Varinia (an effervescent Jean Simmons), pledging his life to her. Douglas assembled a fabulous all-star cast for the film; in addition to himself, Simmons, and Olivier, terrific performances are turned in by Charles Laughton as the curmudgeonly senator Gracchus, John Gavin as the young Julius Caesar, Tony Curtis as Antoninus (a "singer of songs," with all lines delivered in a beautifully thick New York accent), and especially Peter Ustinov, an Oscar winner for his portrayal of the businessman Batiatus, who always wants to know what's in it for him. Blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo's melodramatic script and Alex North's thrilling, soaring score add a majesty that helps make SPARTACUS one of the finest costume epics to ever come out of Hollywood.
1960 - Academy Awards - Best Art Direction - Set Decoration (Color) - Winner
1960 - Academy Awards - Best Costume Design (Color) - Winner
1960 - Academy Awards - Best Supporting Actor - Winner
1960 - Academy Awards - Best Cinematography - Winner
Main Cast & Crew:
Stanley Kubrick - Director
- Format: DVD (Restored)
- Run Time: 188
- Color Format: Color
- UPC: 191329063378
- Genre: Drama
- Rating: PG-13 (MPAA)
- Release Date: March 1998
Stanley Kubrick's SPARTACUS is the epic saga of the rebellious slave Spartacus, a Thracian who was born into slavery and becomes one of the notorious Roman gladiators. During what became known in history as the Servile Wars, he led an uprising against the mighty Roman republic that threatened to tear apart Italy.
Theatrical Release: October 7, 1960 Filmed in Death Valley, Spain, and Univeral Studios in Hollywood. Estimated budget: $12 million. Estimated shooting time: 167 days. Estimated cast: More than 10,000. When the film was restored in 1991, Anthony Hopkins dubbed in the voice of Laurence Olivier in the "snails and oysters" scene and Tony Curtis dubbed in his own voice, as the original soundtrack could not be used. Anthony Mann started as the director of the film on January 27, 1959, but was fired on February 13. Kirk Douglas then brought in Kubrick, who had directed Douglas in PATHS OF GLORY a few years earlier. SPARTACUS was the only film on which Kubrick was essentially a hired director, not involved with the development of the project from the start. Because Kubrick was never fully in control of the production, he essentially disowned the film, claiming it was not truly his vision. Sabina Bethmann began production as Varinia, but Kubrick replaced her with Jean Simmons. SPARTACUS was the first film to credit blacklisted figures--in this case, screenwriter extraordinaire Dalton Trumbo and actor Peter Bracco. Douglas insisted on crediting them in order to help break the blacklist. Some of the crowd cheering was actually recorded at a Michigan State-Notre Dame college football game hosted by the Spartans. Although the film is based on a true story, the real Spartacus did not suffer the same fate as the Hollywood Spartacus does. Calder Willingham helped write the battle scenes. The restored version was produced by James C. Katz, reconstructed and restored by Robert A. Harris, with original editor Robert Lawrence serving as the editorial consultant. Richard Farnsworth (THE STRAIGHT STORY) was a stuntman in the movie and also appears as an extra. The Legion of Decency had a number of scenes cut from the original--specifically, scenes it felt were too graphically violent and sexual. The scenes were restored for the 1991 edition. Additional scenes photographed by Clifford Stine. The fabulous title sequence was designed by Saul Bass. Despite having a historical consultant review the material, the film takes many liberties with the facts of the story.
"...Amazing depth-of-field....Terrific performances..." - 04/26/1991 USA Today, p.1D
"...One of the last truly great Roman epics, the Kirk Douglas-starrer boasts a true cast-of-thousands battle..." - 03/01/2001 Total Film, p.96
"The entire film was an immediate hit with cinemagoers and the majority of critics....Unquestionably it is Douglas' film..." - 03/01/2009 Empire
"A truly epic production with massive battles, iconic cinematography, and a legendary cast..." - 05/24/2010 Premiere