epic shmepic, theyre movies...
I love that the picture suggests that even though the Revolt is the privileged narrative, the really important historical event is the ascendancy of the First Triumvirate of Crassus, Pompei, and Caesar. Peter Ustinov steals the show. There's one really major flaw with this film and it's the same one identified by Kubrick himself: the character of Spartacus has no flaws whatsoever.
Representative of a studio sword and sandal epic of the 60s. I mean when a genre that specific still includes a huge amount of films, you'd have to do something incredible to have it stick out. And it sort of does. Some great performances and recreation of an epoch, and it's not a bad film, entertaining even, but nothing more.
Call me a crazy bastard, but I think this is a superior epic than Barry Lyndon
Kubrick didn't consider it "a Kubrick film", thus I don't consider it a Kubrick film. It's just too slick, too "old Hollywood" somehow. He didn't get to put his stamp on the sword and sandal genre the way he did with the period film (Barry Lyndon), the black comedy (Dr. Strangelove), the horror film (The Shining), the war film (Paths Of Glory), the science fiction film (2001), or the heist film (the Killing).
Kubrick was brought on by Kirk Douglas after Douglas had gotten Anthony Mann fired. The first hour of the film wasn't even Kubrick. So I guess you can say it's only half his worst with zero of his intention. Still a pretty good film with an excellent cast and script and a very frustrated Kubrick at the helm.
Spartacus is more Douglas' film than Kubrick's, but it's a great historical epic; one that was made at the peak of the genre's popularity. Kubrick did bring a maturity to the genre, and transformed it from bombast into great art. Spartacus paved the way for masterpieces like Lawrence of Arabia. Not great Kubrick, but great entertainment of high order. I'll take this over Gladiator anyday. A roller coaster ride.
I watch SPARTACUS every five years or so and I still consider it, on a par with Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s CLEOPATRA, as the best American peplum ever produced. Dalton Trumbo’s screenplay is exemplary in telling the Roman political intrigues between the Senate and the future members of the triumvirat (Crassus, Caesar and Pompeius). The cinematography is gorgeous, Charles Laughton admirable and the battle scenes perfect. Masterpiece. A DVD zone your library.