World Famous Comics: Spartacus |
| Spartacus |
|Starring: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Tony Curtis, Peter Ustinov, Charles Laughton|
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Average Rating: see reviews
Aspect Ratio: 2.21:1
Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Letterboxed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
Picture Format: Widescreen
Publication Date: March 31, 1998
Region Code: 1
Release Date: March 31, 1998
Running Time: 197 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios
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This presentation of the powerful film classic features an additional five minutes of footage cut from the film's original release, plus the original overture and extended soundtrack. Director Stanley Kubrick tells the tale of Spartacus (Kirk Douglas), the bold gladiator slave and Varinia (Jean Simmons), the woman who believed in his cause. Challenged by the power-hungry General Crassus (Laurence Olivier), Spartacus is forced to face his convictions and the power of the Imperial Rome at its glorious height. The inspirational true account of man's eternal struggle for freedom, Spartacus combines history with spectacle to create a moving drama of love and commitment.
Stanley Kubrick was only 31 years old when Kirk Douglas (star of Kubrick's classic Paths of Glory) recruited the young director to pilot this epic saga, in which the rebellious slave Spartacus (played by Douglas) leads a freedom revolt against the decadent Roman Empire. Kubrick would later disown the film because it was not a personal project--he was merely a director-for-hire--but Spartacus remains one of the best of Hollywood's grand historical epics. With an intelligent screenplay by then-blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo (from a novel by Howard Fast), its message of moral integrity and courageous conviction is still quite powerful, and the all-star cast (including Charles Laughton in full toga) is full of entertaining surprises. Fully restored in 1991 to include scenes deleted from the original 1960 release, the full-length Spartacus is a grand-scale cinematic marvel, offering some of the most awesome battles ever filmed and a central performance by Douglas that's as sensitively emotional as it is intensely heroic. Jean Simmons plays the slave woman who becomes Spartacus's wife, and Peter Ustinov steals the show with his frequently hilarious, Oscar-winning performance as a slave trader who shamelessly curries favor with his Roman superiors. The restored version also includes a formerly deleted bathhouse scene in which Laurence Olivier plays a bisexual Roman senator (with restored dialogue dubbed by Anthony Hopkins) who gets hot and bothered over a slave servant played by Tony Curtis. These and other restored scenes expand the film to just over three hours in length. Despite some forgivable lulls, this is a rousing and substantial drama that grabs and holds your attention. Breaking tradition with sophisticated themes and a downbeat (yet eminently noble) conclusion, Spartacus is a thinking person's epic, rising above mere spectacle with a story as impressive as its widescreen action and Oscar-winning sets. --Jeff Shannon
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