PG-13, 3 hr. 16 min. Directed By: Stanley Kubrick. Release Date: Oct 7, 1960. DVD Release Date: Apr 24, 2001.
This was another movie classic that I didn’t know anything about, and wasn’t sure how I felt when it appeared on my list of recommendations. Well, that’s not true. I knew a few things about the movie. I knew that it’s the story of a gladiator who leads a rebellion against Rome (something that may or may not be inspired by actual events… I’ve heard both sides of that argument), I knew Kirk Douglas was the titular lead, and well, I know that depending on your point of view, you could interpret the movie in various ways. I also know that Spartacus inspired the television series of the same name, and having watched a few episodes of the show, I know that the television follows very close to the film, and I understand why the show could be interpreted in a certain way. Lord knows I’ve seen less hanging sausage in a butcher’s window than in your average episode of the television series.
I’ll start with my issues, because I didn’t really have many. In fact, I had one serious complaint: the run time. Three hours and sixteen minutes is WAY too long for a movie, and I’ve learned from comments on my post about Cleopatra that these lengthy epics were popular because they were trying to compete with the sweeping epic miniseries on television during the same time periods. But seriously. THREE HOURS and it wasn’t done. That is a crazy long time to watch one movie. And yes, I have watched Gone with the Wind.
Truthfully, I was mostly interested on those connections hinted at in Clueless, and it only took me about four minutes to see it. The slave master at the mine, the leering glances between the gladiators, and particularly the selection of Crassus’ “body servant” and subsequent bath. It’s pretty clear how you could make that particular leap of logic. I was surprised to find that other than that, which I laughed about for quite some time, the movie was kind of fun. The combat scenes are pretty decent, although they’re a little reminiscent of the Star Trek episode where Spock gets all horned up and tries to kill Kirk, although I might be better if I said that the fight scene in Star Trek was reminiscent of the gladiator combat in Spartacus, since the latter came first. Also, it took me about half the movie to stop thinking about this as “Sporadicus.”
All in all, this isn’t a terrible movie, although it does have a few faults… most of which I blame on Kirk Douglas and the direction. Hey, Kubrick was young. He gets much better than this. To follow my Clueless reference, it’s a bit of a Monet… decent from a high level view, but when you look close, you start seeing faults. If you can get past the horrific run time and sultry man-on-man glances, then this is going to be your thing.