Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Kirk Douglas
IMDB Rating: 7.9
My Rating: 8.5
"I'm Spartacus! I'm Spartacus!"
Spartacus is the story of the slave who rose up to lead a revolution against the Roman Empire. In the beginning of the film, Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) is sold to become a gladiator. Once at the training grounds, Spartacus begins befriending many slaves. After a few weeks, Spartacus is chosen to battle in front Roman leader Crassus (Laurence Olivier). Spartacus ultimately loses his battle, but his foe, Draba, refuses to kill him. He respects Spartacus too much, and instead heaves a trident into the gallery of observers. Draba is stabbed by Crassus when he attempts to climb into the gallery containing Crassus and his entourage. As Crassus is leaving the grounds, he buys the female slave Varinia (Jean Simmons). Spartacus has been falling in love with her for sometime. Her absence combined with harsh treatment from slave owners, leads Spartacus to overthrow the gladiator camp and escape with a small army of slaves. Thus begins Spartacus' revolution against the ways of Rome.
Men and women from far and wide come to join Spartacus. Many are escaped slaves in search of freedom just like him. Varinia and Spartacus are eventually reunited and the two are married. In seven months, Spartacus turns his followers into a powerful army. Their goal is too sail to freedom with the aid of Sicilian pirates. Crassus hears of Spartacus' plan and buys off the Sicilian pirates. This foils Spartacus' plan and leads to the inevitable battle for freedom between Spartacus' army and the much stronger Roman Army.
Director Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus is one of those rare films that really does have something for everyone. If you want action, the battle scenes are fast and thrilling. The story line of Spartacus and Varinia provides a "classic romance" in every sense of the phrase. Film buffs like myself, will marvel at the amazing cinematography and epic score. The film also leaves you feeling inspired to overcome any obstacle. If you are searching for drama, look no further than the emotional final scene. Spartacus succeeds because of it's ability to appeal to a mass audience.
Kirk Douglas is larger than life as Spartacus. His performance gives the heart and inspiration that is needed to properly portray the historical figure. The greatest warriors in cinematic history have all been played as men with great passion. Kirk Douglas' performance is just that. With a great hero, also comes a great villain. Laurence Olivier is simply sinister as Crassus. Although, their scenes together are few, the tension between these two great men is constantly felt. Jean Simmons is stunning as the object of Spartacus' affections. Her performance grows as the film goes on. She is brilliant in the final scene of the film, which firmly rests upon her shoulders.
I was surprised how much I really did enjoy Spartacus. In recent years, the "epic" films have just dragged on. This film does not have a similar fate. A hefty three hour plus run time keeps you interested and intrigued throughout. The combination of Kubrick's masterful direction, excellent acting, and a grand score makes this film stand high in it's genre. This stands out my favorite of the 250 thus far. If you enjoyed Ridley Scott's Gladiator this is indeed a film for you.