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Kirk Douglas , Laurence Olivier , Stanley Kubrick    PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)   VHS Tape
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)

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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spartacus remastered May 27 2010
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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2.0 out of 5 stars Someone has to be Kidding... 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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Spartacus June 28 2014
By janette
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
It a great movie.. I watched this many times with my father as alittle girl. That is way i bought the dvd for my dad. Since then he has watched it several times
Janette Chamberlain
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5.0 out of 5 stars Kirk Douglas Nov. 24 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A classic great movie with a great Actor Kirk Douglas. This movie will make you cry, cheer, thrill you and applaud it. it is full of action, suspense and terrific acting by all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars high quality acting and sets April 27 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A must for any movie buff. superb acting,sets,costumes. They don't make movies like this anymore. Kirk Douglas
at his best, as usual.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Love Kirk Douglas April 4 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
In action he becomes a gladiator and helps free the slaves made into gladiators. It was a good movie but it did not end. We are left wondering what happened to them and where they went.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good movie, bad transfer July 12 2004
By A Customer
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
3.0 out of 5 stars 3 Stars For 3 Outstanding Performances... July 19 2004
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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