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Spartacus [DVD] [1960]

143 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov
  • Directors: Stanley Kubrick
  • Format: PAL, Dolby, Digital Sound, Anamorphic, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Universal
  • DVD Release Date: 12 Sept. 2005
  • Run Time: 186 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000AMSSB6
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,049 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Stanley Kubrick's star-studded, historical epic concerns the efforts of the slave-gladiator Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) to lead the slaves of the Roman Empire in a rebellion against their masters. The ranks quickly swell as the slave army makes its way across Italy towards the coast. But the despotic Roman senator Crassus (Laurence Olivier) determines to quell the revolt for his own selfish ends, and the stage is thus set for a tremendous battle.

From Amazon.co.uk

Stanley Kubrick was only 31 years old when Kirk Douglas (star of Kubrick's classic Paths of Glory) recruited the young director to pilot this epic saga, in which the rebellious slave Spartacus (played by Douglas) leads a freedom revolt against the decadent Roman Empire. Kubrick would later disown the film because it was not a personal project--he was merely a director-for-hire--but Spartacus remains one of the best of Hollywood's grand historical epics. With an intelligent screenplay by then-blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo (from a novel by Howard Fast), its message of moral integrity and courageous conviction is still quite powerful, and the all-star cast (including Charles Laughton in full toga) is full of entertaining surprises. Fully restored in 1991 to include scenes deleted from the original 1960 release, the full-length Spartacus is a grand-scale cinematic marvel, offering some of the most awesome battles ever filmed and a central performance by Douglas that's as sensitively emotional as it is intensely heroic. Jean Simmons plays the slave woman who becomes Spartacus's wife, and Peter Ustinov steals the show with his frequently hilarious, Oscar-winning performance as a slave trader who shamelessly curries favor with his Roman superiors. The restored version also includes a formerly deleted bathhouse scene in which Laurence Olivier plays a bisexual Roman senator (with restored dialogue dubbed by Anthony Hopkins) who gets hot and bothered over a slave servant played by Tony Curtis. These and other restored scenes expand the film to just over three hours in length. Despite some forgivable lulls, this is a rousing and substantial drama that grabs and holds your attention. Breaking tradition with sophisticated themes and a downbeat (yet eminently noble) conclusion, Spartacus is a thinking person's epic, rising above mere spectacle with a story as impressive as its widescreen action and Oscar-winning sets. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Mark A. Streets on 9 July 2011
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
The transfer isn't great, it's acceptable but not quite what you'd expect for a film of this magnitude! There is a lot of softness to some scenes and the blacks are poor. It states that it is a restoration that was done in 1991...maybe it's time they did a new one! This is a 5 star movie, let down by an average (out of date!) transfer. On the plus side Kirks chin dimple is generally sharp and well detailed. ;)
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Picard TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 April 2012
Format: Blu-ray
Like other epics such as 'Lawrence of Arabia' and 'Ben Hur', Spartacus is a movie that has gone through an interesting series of home releases. I say interesting because as is always the way with classic movies, they are often compromised to such a degree that you would wonder how they could ever get away being released in such an un-authentic state. Of course, it was astounding to see what can be achieved with a modern 8K restoration (Ben-Hur) and for 'Lawrence...' fans, the good news is that Sony are rereleasing the film this year with a similar 8K restoration. These are only two examples of the correct treatment such classics deserve, yet Spartacus appears to have gone unnoticed.

What we have here is a transfer from the 1991 print - what was at it's a time a seven figure sum paid to reconstruct the film in the most accurate way. The bulk of the work was done from black and white negative separations which don't fade, so the colours should be pretty much spot on to how the film looked originally. The problem with this Blu-ray, however, is that Universal have for some reason not invested a new digital restoration. This is just the 1991 print with some waxy and often careless DNR applied, meaning the resulting picture is incredibly soft and simply doesn't represent the Technirama format the movie was shot on. On top of this, little effort has gone in to using current technology for removing artefacts and colour fading throughout the film.

I focus on these technicalities because a movie as good as Spartacus deserves the same - if not better - kind of treatment that even lesser films have had on Blu-ray.

As a step up from the DVD release then you are going to notice more consistency in this viewing experience, but you certainly won't be overwhelmed. What a pity Universal will not be digitally restoring this film as part of its '100th Anniversary' releases.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By amazon customer on 19 July 2015
Format: DVD
The perfect companion to this superb EPIC is: for all THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

Stanley Kubrick has given us many memorable films, but this is my personal favourite. It is hard to imagine that he was not even nominated for best director in 1960. I suppose his final satisfaction must have come in the endurance of this film's popularity after all the other nominees faded into obscurity.

'Spartacus' is one of the great Hollywood epics and Kirk Douglas' defining role. It is a brilliantly written screenplay that combines the struggle for freedom from oppression with a compelling love story in a setting that accurately depicts the majesty as well as the corruption of the Roman Empire. The scenes depicting the political maneuvering of the Senate were priceless.

Kubrick's work was nothing short of brilliant. His attention to the details of the period was wonderful. The orchestration of tens of thousands of extras in the battle scenes was phenomenal. His presentation of the love scenes between Varinia and Spartacus were sensitive and compelling. I was most impressed with his treatment of the slave army. He put a human face on the slaves by showing mothers with their children and scenes of Spartacus walking among the people. This completely wins the affections of the viewer. His pacing was perfect and despite the film's length at over three hours, it did not seem to drag since there was always something fascinating on the screen.

Kirk Douglas gave a powerful performance and created a character that was bigger than life. He was strong and inspirational while simultaneously being gentle and kind.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By rbmusicman/and/movie-fan' TOP 100 REVIEWER on 6 Dec. 2014
Format: Blu-ray
'Spartacus' (Kirk Douglas) had spent his childhood, youth, into manhood as a working as a slave for
his 'Roman' masters.
He is chosen by the visiting 'Batiatus' (Peter Ustinov) a visiting official for purchase as a a slave to be
trained at his Gladiatorial-Academy.
There he meets the woman who he'll eventually take for his wife 'Varinia' (Jean Simmons) who as a
slave at the Academy to both please chosen Gladiators and serve.
When an important 'Roman' General 'Crassus' (Laurence Olivier) visits the Academy he insists on a
Gladiator show, two pairs a fight to the death one on one.
'Spartacus' and three others are chosen, the Academy previously only training Gladiators to be sold on
to places such as 'Rome' never to fight and die at the Academy.
'Spartacus' is paired to fight 'Draba' (Woody Strode) an Ethiopian, the powerful 'Draba' chooses not to
kill 'Spartacus' but turn his 'Trident' toward 'Crassus' obviously losing his own life.
The enforced exhibition causes unrest among the Gladiators at the Academy so much so it triggers a
revolution led by 'Spartacus' who had always craved freedom.
'Varinia' had been seen leaving the compound earlier with 'Batiatus' who had sold her to 'Crassus'
Back in 'Rome' slave 'Antoninus' (Tony Curtis) has become a man-servant to 'Crassus' an educated man
who read poetry and sung songs.
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