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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blu ray.
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 This is a 5 star movie, let down by an average (out of date!)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...
Published on 9 July 2011 by Mark A. Streets

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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spartacus falls short on a sloppy 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...
Published on 28 April 2012 by Picard


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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blu ray., 9 July 2011
By 
Mark A. Streets (Derby. UK) - See all my reviews
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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 This is a 5 star movie, let down by an average (out of date!)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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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spartacus falls short on a sloppy Blu-ray, 28 April 2012
By 
Picard (USS Enterprise) - See all my reviews
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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kubrick's epic., 26 Oct 2014
The perfect gift for all historical buffs 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 manoeuvring 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. Laurence Olivier gave a riveting performance Crassus. He was cunning, imperious, consumed by ambition and utterly heartless. It is hard to imagine a more nefarious bad guy.
dignity, strength of character and a quiet seductiveness that played well off the power exuded from Douglas. Their screen chemistry was both passionate and touching.

Rounding out a great cast were Peter Ustinov who was terrific as the snivelling
Jean Simmons has had an impressive acting career that has spanned more than 50 years. She is both a great beauty and an enchanting actress. She gave Varinia and cowardly Batiatius always conniving to profit from someone else's misfortunes, and Charles Laughton as the astute and duplicitous Gracchus, manipulating the Roman senate to his best advantage.

This film should be on every film buff's list of required viewing and is highly recommended for its moving story to anyone who hasn't seen it.

The Blu-ray print is pristine, it renders the richness of the colors, costumes, and sets to full effect. Seeing this on a small screen in anything but its 1.85:1 aspect ratio would significantly reduce its effectiveness I would suspect.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent DVD, 30 May 2004
Great to see another region 2 DVD of such excellent quality. The film itself is wonderful, (see other reviews for story etc) and the picture quality superb, even has a choice of DTS sound, more of that please! Loaded with extras and a short film called the Hollywood Ten. My only gripe is that the movie has been put onto two discs, which means getting off the couch at the intermission, though it is well worth the effort. This is a definite must have for any Stanley Kubrick fan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Special Edition, 16 Jun 2013
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
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Undertaken in the late era of American Anti-Communism, the red scare had littered the 1950's as the crunch came in and the taps were turned on. Douglas wanted to make an epic, to prise away the squeeze and hired Dalton Trumbo, a man previously blacklisted (Johnny Got his Gun) and took a classic Communistic text then set about splicing it to a Hollywood film which would grab the sands of time and stand upon them. This took real guts in an era when few would stick themselves up to be knocked completely back. The result was one of the greatest films of the era; a full range spectacle. This made the biblical epics starring Charlton Heston appear a little threadbare, bombastic, just full of muscle and sandal chintz, roped around the edges.

Propaganda? Of course, who knows what really happened. The film was made to tap a vein and let the electric current surge throughout the body infusing all the wiring, especially for the dispossessed. It also has one of the most beautiful gals of the era, who later succumbed to the ravages of alcohol blossoming in the support actress role, Jean Simmons. It is her love that keeps Spartacus focused.

So the baddies are all English, as per usual, playing the stereotypical roles of cunning, homosexuality, deceit slavery and other nefarious vices. Welcome on board Olivier and Ustinov. Each delivers a powerful punch, but with a twist in the knuckle. However it is also interspersed with various Americans, not exactly playing the part of godliness, so the good/evil Manchean sheen is burred somewhat. Douglas here is clever in playing to the gallery.

The camerawork, scale and vision of the whole thing is full panoramic breathtaking vision as it artistically sweeps over the hills and flowing rivers in aiming to capture the big event. Alternatively a deep sense of claustrophobia coupled to heavy handing descent arises in the latter stages as everyone becomes aware of their fate.

Delivered pre Civil Rights and just after the Trade Unions were smashed in the 1930's and 1940's, it was a signpost for a world about to be ushered in. Ford and Du Pont had put paid to any real life Spartacus - just ask Eugene Debs. The film was a piece of camouflage, see the artwork undertaken by Saul Bellow to understand the message being beamed - later censored.

As for the lead, Douglas displays the steel eyed grit, chin jutting and staring into the history books with a complete vision. Whilst he played the same character throughout his career, here he does it with an abiding stage filmic presence. Douglas controls the centre of the stage and makes America great, not the land of the dream, but those who live the nightmare.

So if you have three hours to spare and want some entertainment along with some education then imbibe the message. It is one of the cinema greats and meets the Russian films of the era head on - each operate as great emotional literacy masterpieces.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kubrick's disappointment is still our triumph, 22 May 2011
Although he was never happy with Spartacus, due to creative differences with Kirk Douglas, any other director would be very proud of it.

But as we all know, Kubrick's level of perfection was so high that if his own vision was to be watered down - then he would never be happy about it.

On the whole, Spartacus is an excellent film. The transfer, on the special two disc edition, is very good but what marks this edition out as the best is the plethora of extra features, which have sadly been cut down on the blu ray edition.

Why that was done is anyone's guess as Dalton Trumbo's notes (read as an audio commentary) are fascinating and at times savage in their criticism of Kubrick and others.

A great film presented in an excellent edition.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I'm Spartacus!", 1 Feb 2008
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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Spartacus is that genuine rarity, an epic that successfully combines the intellectual with the emotional, giving it an edge on almost all of its contemporaries - even Anthony Mann's superb Fall of the Roman Empire, which is never able to fully reconcile the two in its leading characters.

It was Mann who shot the striking opening sequences in the Libyan salt mines before being replaced by Kubrick, allegedly for losing his grip on the gladiator school sequences (though it seems everyone involved offers a different reason), and his trademark use of landscape to define character is very much in evidence. Spartacus begins the film as a virtual animal, mute, biting his guard, a creature of pure instinct. Yet through his fight for his freedom, he learns dignity and becomes more of a human being than his civilised masters.

Ironically, it is his doomed slave revolt that provides the spark to turn Rome into a totalitarian dictatorship, a development hinted at in his gladiatorial combat with Woody Strode, where their duel to the death is simply a background for the political backbiting of its noble Roman audience. Even after the rebellion is brutally crushed, the seeds for further change and disruption are sown in the shifting allegiance of a young Gaius Julius Caesar (Gavin), who moves from the side of Laughton's populist Plebian to Olivier's ruthless Patrician.

Despite this, Spartacus is an incredibly hopeful film. Its belief in the value of life and in people may be frowned upon as naive now, yet through its portrayal of the Romans' ignorance of the responsibilities of their civilisation in their endless manipulations and power plays remains painfully aware of reality. In hindsight, it seems impossible to separate it from the civil rights movement of the late fifties-sixties (JFK was a great admirer of the film), with Spartacus a Thracian composite of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. The solidarity of the slaves in refusing to identify Spartacus to the victorious Romans and choosing crucifixion over their chains is an image at once universal myth and very much of its time.

Most unusual within the constraints of the genre is that it makes us feel its concerns rather than just think about them. The fight to the death between Spartacus and Antoninus (Curtis) is played as a personal scene rather than an action set piece, each trying to kill the other to Spain them the pain of crucifixion. And when he takes his place on the last of the crosses that pave the road to the gates of Rome, the final scene where his freed wife (Jean Simmons) shows him the son he has never seen for the first time and begs him to "Die, please die!", is one of the most intensely moving moments in cinema and carries an emotional charge that Kubrick's work never again attained or even attempted.

Despite his genuinely imaginative direction, Kubrick's erratic attitude towards the film is well documented (although Douglas claims the director originally wanted to take blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo's screen credit, he subsequently vociferously disowned the film). Unfortunately, the 1990s cinema re-issue of this original restored version met with some of the worst reviews in recent memory: Douglas' reputation had faded while Kubrick's had soared, rendering it an act of critical blasphemy to disagree with him.

Nonetheless, the film endures even if its reputation has not. Trumbo's script is both intelligent and involving and filled with memorable and beautifully constructed scenes, the cast uniformly excellent, with Olivier giving one of his last great performances before he turned to intermittent silly voices and self-parody. Aside from the now infamous attempted bathtime seduction of Tony Curtis (far less explicit than the subsequent speech about `debasing yourself' before Rome), the extra footage in this restored version is largely violence - more crucifixions, the burial of a baby in the snow, gladiator Woody Strode's blood squirting onto Olivier's face as he slits his throat and a lot more of the climactic battle (itself shot as an afterthought after an unsatisfactory rough-cut).

Sadly, it is here that one of the film's most visually powerful moments, when the Roman Legion stops to a man in their advance on the slave army, just does not work even on the largest of small screens. Whereas in 70mm on the giant screen you could feel them approach foot by foot, here they barely seem to be moving, rendering the jolting shock and ominous dread of their sudden halt (actually achieved via freeze frame) barely noticeable. The prelude to the main battle does remain an incredible musical tour de force by North, however, predicting both the savagery and hollow victory of the coming carnage with brief, brutal crescendos on vicious sharp cuts. Even in a strong field that year, it is amazing that North did not win an Oscar for his contribution.

Of the various versions available, the Criterion NTSC disc is the best, though most of the extras are carried over for the PAL special edition - but avoid the standard film-only edition.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars breaking the blacklist, 7 Feb 2006
By A Customer
Apart from being a visual treat, this is an important film in Hollywood history. Worth the money for the "Hollywood Ten" documentary alone.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This film gets better with age, 11 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Spartacus [DVD] [1960] (DVD)
Spartacus works because it doesn't take itself too seriously like some of the other over wrought stiff productions of the same period.
Its performances are understated and at times informal , giving the actual feel that you are in the Roman senate or a school for gladiators
The story of Spartacus is one of the great untold
stories in history , a slave who defied an empire
and smashed Roman armies up and down Italy ,until after two years of revolt is finally defeated by the entire might of Rome.
Douglas is convincing and restrained in his portrayal and plays out a charming Romance with Jean Simmons.
Many , many scenes in this film that stick in
the memory & endure.
My favorites ...
Ustinov's address to the new gladiators
The fight between Spartacus & Drabba (Woody Strode ) , unforgettable
The restored snails and oysters scene ,
The scene in the Senate when Glabbarus returns
defeated
The comic Ustinov and Laughton in the Roman Villa
Roman soldiers attacking en masse in the
final battle scene
The famous "I'm Spartacus" scene
Crassus confronting the fact he can never
truly defeat Spartacus
The score by Alex North also deserves credit as
it pummels you during the opening credits and
then chunters along as our Gladiators revolt gathers momentum.
Overall the film I have watched more often than
any other , so that must be a recommedation.
It has some flaws obviously but for me its better than Gladiator or indeed Braveheart (and thats not bad coming from a Scotsman)
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Transfer,but lacking the extras of the 2 disc special edition DVD., 6 Feb 2011
By 
The transfer to Blu ray is a good one but I was disappointed to find some of the extras in the 2 disc special edition DVD (with the white cover) are missing. The highly entertaining 1992 interview with Peter Ustinov along with the cast and crew commentary and others make for a four star rating instead of a five. It's not a real problem as I could just watch the DVD - but listening the commentary while watching the blu ray would have been great.
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Spartacus - Limited Edition Digibook [Blu-ray] [1960]
Spartacus - Limited Edition Digibook [Blu-ray] [1960] by Stanley Kubrick (Blu-ray - 2012)
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