Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Spartacus (1960)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Starring: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter ustinov, Tony Curtis, John Gavin, Nina Foch, John Ireland, Herbert Lom, John Dall, Charles McGraw, Joanna Barnes, Harold J. Stone, Woody Strode

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They trained him to kill for their pleasure. . .but they trained him a little too well. . .

Plot: In 73 BCE, a Thracian slave leads a revolt at a gladiatorial school run by Lentulus Batiatus. The uprising soon spreads across the Italian Peninsula involving thousand of slaves. The plan is to acquire sufficient funds to acquire ships from Silesian pirates who could then transport them to other lands from Brandisium in the south. The Roman Senator Gracchus schemes to have Marcus Publius Glabrus, Commander of the garrison of Rome, lead an army against the slaves who are living on Vesuvius. When Glabrus is defeated his mentor, Senator and General Marcus Licinius Crassus is greatly embarrassed and leads his own army against the slaves. Spartacus and the thousands of freed slaves successfully make their way to Brandisium only to find that the Silesians have abandoned them. They then turn north and must face the might of Rome.

My rating: 10/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

I friggin' love this movie.  Of all the Sword & Sandal pictures I've seen, this one's gotten the most play at my house by a long shot.  The cast is amazing.  What Ustinov, Laughton and Olivier could do with words.  Great stuff.  Douglas is fantastic.  One thing that strikes me is how believable Spartacus' (Douglas) relationship with Varinia (Simmons) is.  These two actors really sell being in love.  There's tons of action, lots of room to breathe and a great story.  Dalton Trumbo's screenplay is nothing short of outstanding.  The dialogue feels natural and they got the right actors to play the parts which is a big plus.  OK, everyone but except John Dall (Marcus Glabrus).  He feels out of place...but then look at who surrounds him.

This is my favorite Alex North score.  His music is so beautiful and touching; that love theme gets me.  And then he turns on the dissonance when it comes to the action scenes.  It's a very mature score and one of my all time favorites.  Twenty years ago I got to see the big 70 mm theatrical release.  At the time I had already seen the movie at least a dozen times but seeing it up there on a giant movie screen makes you feel like you're watching it for the first time.  It's a tremendous spectacle of a film yet it's able to bring you so close to one or two characters.  You don't get that kind of range from intimacy to tremendous battle scenes very often.  Even rarer is to have it handled so well and delicately.  I love you, Spartacus!

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