director Stanley Kubrick
Ah, Man. Spartacus.
This was another one of those movies that I’m not sure how I managed to go 45 years without seeing. It’s Stanley Kubrick. Most film dudes (and dudettes) have seen every Stanley Kubrick movie, right?
Me. Not even. I still haven’t seen Killer’s Kiss (1955), Paths of Glory (1957) or Barry Lyndon (1975) and oddly enough, it’s been eons since I’ve seen most of them.
Epics are a slog. I mean Spartacus is over three hours long. And you know from the opening moment that you are in for a long haul. It opens with a title card of “Overture” and a black screen plays back a rather forceful musical theme for quite a while before the pictures and title come. If you didn’t know before that, you know pretty quick that this is one long movie.
It’s got a great cast. Kirk Douglas leads with the likes of Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, and Charles Laughton playing the Roman leads. It came at a time of a lot of big Biblical epics were cramming the screens, so this piece of historical cinema jogs just aside of the Christian story but still gets to pit itself against ancient Rome. That while it’s more subtly about the Hollywood blacklist and the import of the Civil Rights movement.
It was interesting to see Olivier because I don’t think I’ve recently watched any movie that he was in. And Peter Ustinov. He’s very appealing as well. Douglas seems a little long in the tooth for the role of the slave revolt leader, but he produced the film and dammit, that’s just how Hollywood works.
Apparently, Spartacus was the only of Stanley Kubrick’s films that he did not have final cut on and one which he dismissed from his oeuvre. You can kind of see that. It’s more a Hollywood epic than a personal vision, though it’s good, well-made entertainment. Maybe that’s it. It’s good, well-made entertainment.