|Release Date||October 7, 1960|
|Writer(s)|| Dalton Trumbo (screenplay)|
Howard Fast (novel)
Calder Willingham (battle scenes, uncredited)
Peter Ustinov (uncredited)
Spartacus is a 1960 American epic historical drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on the novel of the same name by Howard Fast. The life story of the historical figure Spartacus and the events of the Third Servile War were adapted by Dalton Trumbo as a screenplay.
The film stars Kirk Douglas as rebellious slave Spartacus and Laurence Olivier as his foe, the Roman general and politician Marcus Licinius Crassus. Co-starring are Peter Ustinov (who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as slave trader Lentulus Batiatus), John Gavin (as Julius Caesar), Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, John Ireland, Herbert Lom, Woody Strode, Tony Curtis, John Dall and Charles McGraw. The film won four Oscars in all.
Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was blacklisted at the time as one of the Hollywood Ten. Kirk Douglas publicly announced that Trumbo was the screenwriter of Spartacus, and President-elect John F. Kennedy crossed picket lines to see the movie, helping to end blacklisting. (Excerpt from Wikipedia page: Wikipedia Page on Spartacus movie)
The story begins with Spartacus being born and raised in an unnamed chalk mine. When a fellow slave collapses from exhaustion, Spartacus rushes to the man's aid and when he is whipped for his troubles, turns on the guards and hamstrings one with his teeth before being subdued. The Romans summarily tie him up to die from exposure as an example. However, Spartacus's life is spared when Lentelus Batiatus, having stopped by to purchase new gladiators, is impressed with Spartacus's story and purchases the Thracian.
Spartacus and several other slaves are transported to Capua, where they are branded with the mark of Batiatus and placed under the instruction of Marcellus. Spartacus finds himself singled out and mercilessly goaded by Marcellus, and the other gladiators warn him that Marcellus may be looking for an excuse to have Spartacus killed as an example. That night, the new gladiators are presented with women. Spartacus is paired with the Briton girl Varinia, but is outraged at the notion, much to the amusement of Marcellus and Batiatus. A bond forms between Spartacus and Varinia from this point.
Training under Marcellus proves to be long and brutal. Spartacus proves adequate to the challenges, but often finds himself distracted whenever he sees Varina in the area. When Marcellus notices, he goads Spartacus mercilessly about it. He keeps the two separated, and pairs Varinia with other partners in order to agitate Spartacus further. Yet Spartacus and Varinia still manage to communicate during meal times, and grow closer and closer.
Batiatus receives a visit from the Roman senator Marcus Licinius Crassus, an arch-conservative who aims to become dictator of Rome. Crassus buys Varinia on a whim, and for the amusement of his companions Claudia Marius, and Marcus and Helena Glabrus, arranges for Spartacus and three others to fight in pairs. When Spartacus is disarmed, his opponent, an African named Draba, spares his life in a burst of compassion and attacks the Roman audience. Crassus kills Draba, and Batiatus has the body strung up by the ankles as an example.
The next day, with the school's atmosphere still tense over this episode, Batiatus takes Varinia away to Crassus' house in Rome. When Marcellus taunts Spartacus over this, Spartacus suddenly attacks Marcellus, and murders him by drowning him in a soup pot. The fight explodes into a riot, then a rebellion. The gladiators overwhelm their guards and wipe them out, escaping into the Italian countryside.
Spartacus is elected chief of the fugitives and decides to lead them out of Italy and back to their homes. They plunder Roman country estates as they go, collecting enough money to buy sea transport from Rome's foes the pirates of Cilicia. Countless other slaves join the group, making it as large as an army. One of the new arrivals is Varinia, who escaped while being delivered to Crassus. Another is a slave entertainer named Antoninus, who also fled Crassus' service after the Roman tried to seduce him. Privately Spartacus feels mentally inadequate because of his lack of education during years of servitude. However, he proves an excellent leader and organizes his diverse followers into a tough and self-sufficient community. Varinia, now his informal wife, becomes pregnant by him, and he also comes to regard the spirited Antoninus as a sort of son.
The Roman Senate becomes increasingly alarmed as Spartacus's army defeats the multiple legions sent against it. Crassus' populist opponent Gracchus knows that his rival will try to use the crisis as a justification for seizing control of the Roman army, and overthrow the Roman republic and the Senate. To try and prevent this, Gracchus channels as much military power as possible into the hands of his own protege, a young senator named Julius Caesar. Although Caesar lacks Crassus' contempt for the lower classes of Rome, he mistakes the man's rigid outlook for nobility. Thus, when Gracchus reveals that he has bribed the Cilicians to get Spartacus out of Italy and rid Rome of the slave army, Caesar regards such tactics as beneath him and goes over to Crassus.
Crassus uses a bribe of his own to make the pirates abandon Spartacus, and has Roman legions commanded by Pompey secretly force the rebels away from the coastline towards Rome. Amid panic that Spartacus means to sack the city, the Senate gives Crassus absolute power. Now surrounded by Romans, Spartacus convinces his men to die fighting. Just by rebelling, and proving themselves human, he says, they have struck a blow against slavery. In the ensuing battle, most of the slave army is massacred by Crassus' and Pompey's forces. Afterward, when the Romans try to locate the rebel leader for special punishment, every surviving man shields him by shouting "I'm Spartacus!"
Meanwhile, Crassus has found Varinia and Spartacus' newborn son and has taken them prisoner. He is disturbed by the idea that Spartacus can command more love and loyalty than he can and hopes to compensate by making Varinia as devoted to him as she was to her former husband. When she rejects him, he furiously seeks out Spartacus (who he recognizes from having watched him in Capua) and forces him to fight Antoninus to the death. The survivor is to be crucified, along with all the other men captured after the great battle. Spartacus kills Antoninus to spare him this fate, and is consigned to crucifixion. The incident leaves Crassus worried about Spartacus' potential to live in legend as a martyr. In other matters he is also worried about Caesar, who he senses will someday eclipse him.
Gracchus, having seen Rome fall into tyranny, commits suicide. Before doing so, he bribes his friend Batiatus to rescue Spartacus' family from Crassus and carry them away to freedom. On the way out of Rome, the group passes under Spartacus's cross. Varinia is able to comfort him in his dying moments by showing him his little son, who will grow up without ever having been a slave.
4 Oscar Wins :Edit
- Best Supporting Actor (Ustinov)
- Best Art Direction
- Best Cinematography
- Best Costume Design
Marcellus: "You're not as stupid as I thought. You may even be intelligent. That's dangerous, for slaves ..."
Spartacus: "I'M NOT AN ANIMAL!!! I'm not an animal." Varinia: "Neither am I."
Crassus: "One of the disadvantages of being a patrician is that on occasion, you are obliged to act as one."
Spartacus: "I'd rather be here. A free man among brothers, than one of the wealthiest citizens in all of Rome!"
- Kirk Douglas as Spartacus
- Laurence Olivier as Marcus Licinius Crassus
- Jean Simmons as Varinia
- Charles Laughton as Sempronius Gracchus
- Peter Ustinov as Lentulus Batiatus
- John Gavin as Julius Caesar
- Nina Foch as Helena Glabrus
- John Ireland as Crixus
- Herbert Lom as Tigranes Levantus, leader of the Cilician pirates
- John Dall as Marcus Publius Glabrus
- Charles McGraw as Marcellus
- Joanna Barnes as Claudia Marius
- Harold J. Stone as David
- Woody Strode as Draba
- Peter Brocco as Ramon
- Paul Lambert as Gannicus
- Robert J. Wilke as Guard Captain
- Nicholas Dennis as Dionysius
- John Hoyt as Caius
- Frederic Worlock as Laelius
- Tony Curtis as Antoninus