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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: Original recording remastered, NTSC
  • Number of tapes: 2
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Studio: Universal Music Group
  • VHS Release Date: July 1 2001
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000054OW2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,135 in Video (See Top 100 in Video)
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Product Description

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

8 of 8 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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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?
Author of "Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Irvine on May 27 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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 Glenn M. Frost on July 22 2014
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
The movie is very good. Peter Ustinov and Charles Laughton, in particular, are great. It has some excellent epic scenes and a rousing Alex North score. So why only 2 stars? The Blu-ray is...not good. How they managed to take a film that was shot in 70mm and make this piece of dross is a source of amazement. I saw the film restoration that was done several years ago. It looked amazing. This does not. Someone has gone nuts with the "noise reduction" and as a result much detail is lost. Everyone looks sort of waxy and in the big crowd scenes people become blurs. The colour is also off...everyone looks like they overdid it with self-tanning spray. A major disappointment and on film sites this is always a title that comes up as one that desperately needs a redo. If you really want to see it, pay for a download and watch it once, or wait until it is on television. Save your money. Hopefully, someday, a better Blu-ray will come along.

ADD ON: Since writing this review, word has come out that sometime later in 2015, a properly restored version of SPARTACUS will finally be released. This makes it a no brainer. Wait! The new blu has been worked on by Robert Harris, the same gentleman who was responsible for the expert film restoration in the 1990's.
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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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