A Roman slave leads a revolt against the tyrannical Roman Empire
and gathers an army of slaves to escape Rome or die trying.
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Written by Dalton Trumbo
Starring Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons,
Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, Tony Curtis, John Gavin,
John Dall, John Ireland, Herbert Lom, Charles McGraw, Nina Foch
Based on the novel by Howard Fast
Oscar Wins - Best Supporting Actor (Peter Ustinov),
Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design
Oscar Nominations - Best Film Editing, Best Original Score
Spartacus is one of the longest movies I've ever seen, clocking in at over three hours, and I'll admit that I was initially intimidated by the film's length. These feelings were dashed when I sat down and watched the film, which features a number of breathtaking performances from some of classic Hollywood's most talented actors. Kirk Douglas leads the pack as the titular slave Spartacus, who refuses to submit his life to Roman rule and leads an army of slaves to take on Rome itself. While deviating a bit from the true story of the real Spartacus, the film tells a dramatized version that stands as an unforgettable historical epic of the times.
Director Stanley Kubrick managed to wrangle together some of the greatest actors of the 20th century, all of whom probably had no idea they weren't the star of the film until its release. Douglas is great as Spartacus, conveying one man's fight to have a life worth living. My personal favorite was legendary thespian Laurence Olivier as the slimy villain Crassus, commander of Rome's army and hater of slaves. Olivier played a fantastic villain whom you loved to hate. Honestly, this was my introduction to his work and I will definitely be looking for more. Alongside these two titans, you have Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, Jean Simmons, and Tony Curtis. This cast couldn't be more loaded if it tried.
Spartacus features some revolutionary filmmaking from a young Kubrick and it's neat to see his style before it evolved into films like Dr. Strangelove and The Shining. The story behind the writing of this film is worthy of a movie in its own right (and it got one last year). So many awesome things had to happen for this movie to end up as exciting and memorable as it became. It's a classic biography of one of history's original rebels and as a tale of dignity, it couldn't be better.