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Spartacus


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Product Details

  • Actors: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov
  • Directors: Stanley Kubrick
  • Writers: Peter Ustinov, Calder Willingham, Dalton Trumbo, Howard Fast
  • Producers: Kirk Douglas, Edward Lewis, Edward Muhl
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Letterboxed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.21:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Studio: Mca (Universal)
  • Release Date: Sept. 15 2003
  • Run Time: 196 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0783226039
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #15,132 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Amazon.ca

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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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12 2004
Format: DVD
It should be noted that the reviews on this page refer to two different versions of the Spartacus DVD. This review refers to the Universal single disc edition, not the Criterion two-disc release.
While both versions of the film are the same, this version is devastated by a bad transer: both sound and picture quality are seriously lacking - even as far as a blue edge to blacks, including the widescreen matting, and blue fades in parts of the film. The sound is poorly balanced - voices are too quiet, music too loud. I was contantly turning the volume up and down throughout. So much for "fully restored."
If you are interested in quality and really like this movie I would skip this version and go for the Criterion release, which many other people own and have approved.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. DALTON on July 19 2004
Format: DVD
Kubrick replaced Tony Mann on directing duties for this brave, but lumbering costume epic which is ultimately propped up by three beautiful performances. Peter Ustinov(won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work here), Charles Laughton(should have been similarly nominated)& Laurence Olivier all do incredible work under the guidance of a very young Kubrick & all deliver what comes very close to their best work. Their presence is notable chiefly for the fact that without them, SPARTACUS would never have been the extraordinary spectacle it surely is. Kirk Douglas gives a brooding(& lifeless)performance in the title role, ultimately undermining any sequence not containing the three aforementioned thespians. Jean Simmons, as the love interest, is similarly uninteresting & while undeniably beautiful, fails to evoke for the viewer the love & devotion she receives from Douglas & ultimately Olivier. Pre CGI, it comes armed with some beautifully choreographed & violent battle sequences, but for those looking for an earlier version of Ridley Scott's GLADIATOR, this one may come off a little old-fashioned. It is worth noting(& you'll learn this from the wonderfully insightful 1992 Ustinov interview[his impersonation of Laughton is a riot]contained in the bonus material)that Ustinov rewrote all the scenes he plays with Laughton. It should come as no surprise to the discerning viewer, they are easily the best moments in the film.....
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Steven R. Travers on June 6 2004
Format: DVD
1960 was the "official" end of the Blacklist. A young director named Stanley Kubrick had made a brilliant movie about military justice, "Paths to Glory", starring Kirk Douglas in 1958. In 1960, he directed the classic, "Spartacus". "Spartacus" starred Douglas as a slave of the Roman Empire, depicting his deadly rivalry with the Roman General Crassus (played to perfection by Laurence Olivier). The film was rife with social message. The slaves who rise up against their Roman oppressors are metaphors for the working class, especially minorities, rising up against white oppression. One black slave, played by ex-football star Woody Strode, gives his life so Spartacus can live. The fact that he was black was well calculated. Dalton Trumbo, a former Communist, wrote "Spartacus". He penned it under an assumed name because he was still Blacklisted. When it came time to edit the film for release, Douglas, a huge star and its producer, made the decision to list Trumbo as the writer. His power and the film's success combined with this act ended the Blacklist. In a notorious scene that was cut from the original but has since been restored, a slave named Antoninus (Tony Curtis) bathes Crassus/Olivier. Strange wordplay about a preference between snails and oysters at first seems irrelevant until one realizes it is Trumbo's effort to introduce a homosexual theme to the story, using snails and oysters as metaphors for straight and gay love. Isn't that special?
STEVEN TRAVERS
Author of "Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman
STWRITESaol.com
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Irvine on May 27 2010
Format: DVD
I've seen Spartacus many times over the years, but it's nice to have the DVD finally, and that of a good print. The effort to rerelease this film appears to have been monumental although one can't help but be surprised that it was necessary since, if nothing else, the film is of significant historical (film) value. The film is the economical spring board for Kubrick. True, it lacks the Kubrick flavour, displaying more of Douglas' tastes, but it is none the less masterfully done. Never a deep film, but full of drama and grandeur. Anyone who enjoys the grande style without the computer generated gore of contemporary epics will not be disappointed. The performances of the impressive supporting cast (especially LO, PU and CL) steal the show.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Aug. 6 2003
Format: DVD
"Those who are about to die salute you!" was the traditional gladiator salute to audiences prior to commencing their spectacle of death. The movie successfully brings the audience into another epoch were life was nasty, brutish, and short for virtually everyone: especially for slaves and gladiators.
The all-star cast of Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton, and Peter Ustinov, more than makes up for Kirk Douglas' frequent forced acting. The love story with Jean Simmons could have been much shorter and perhaps would have been more interesting if they had based it on Spartacus' actual historic lover; a wild woman who claimed to be a prophetess and practiced sorcery.
The movie takes great poetic licence in recounting the social and cultural norms of ancient Rome by presenting a class conflict theme and plot structure; the Romans being like McCarthyists/capitalists and the slaves as Bolsheviks sacrificing all their labor for their commarades. The truth is that most of Spartacus' followers were exactly the gang of thieves and brigands that Kirk Douglass doesn't want them to be in the movie; more interested in quick plunder and mayhem than fighting for a desperate cause that no one at the time cared for anyway. Spartacus himself, given his overwhelming familiarity with legionary tactics, was (as historical sources suggest) probably a former auxillary or legionnaire who was condemned to slavery. The movie also wants to suggest that slavery was a product of pagan ignorance that needed the salvation of Christianity to see its cruelty. The legitimacy of slavery (spoils of war mostly) was the dominant world view in antiquity. Actually, early Christians were even more ardent believers of slavery than their pagan counterparts: believing that it was an immutable condition imposed by God.
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