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Spartacus (1960)

tomatometer

96

Average Rating: 8.2/10
Reviews Counted: 50
Fresh: 48 | Rotten: 2

Featuring terrific performances and epic action, Kubrick's restored swords-and-sandals epic is a true classic.

83

Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 1

Featuring terrific performances and epic action, Kubrick's restored swords-and-sandals epic is a true classic.

audience

87

liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 76,194

My Rating

Movie Info

Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) is a rebellious slave purchased by Lentulus Batiatus (Peter Ustinov), owner of a school for gladiators. For the entertainment of corrupt Roman senator Marcus Licinius Crassus (Laurence Olivier), Batiatus' gladiators are to stage a fight to the death. On the night before the event, the enslaved trainees are "rewarded" with female companionship. Spartacus' companion for the evening is Varinia (Jean Simmons), a slave from Brittania. When Spartacus later learns that Varinia

PG-13,

Drama, Action & Adventure, Classics

Dalton Trumbo

Apr 24, 2001

Universal Pictures

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All Critics (50) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (48) | Rotten (2) | DVD (31)

This may be the most literate of all the spectacles set in antiquity.

May 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Asurprisingly apt companion piece to Paths of Glory in its consideration of the mechanisms of power.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out | Comments (8)
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is a spotty, uneven drama.

May 9, 2002 | Comments (12)
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The most courageous thing about it, from today's standards, is that it closes without an obligatory happy ending, and an audience that has watched for 187 minutes doesn't get a tidy, mindless conclusion.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comment (1)
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Kirk Douglas, while a little old in the role, makes a fine action hero, and Stanley Kubrick's still-accessible directing made the movie click.

July 30, 2012 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

Thrilling epic is too intense for the youngest.

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

While it suffers from some of the flaws of epics of this era-such as an overly sanitized portrait of life at the time, and anachronistic visions of fashion and lifestyle-Spartacus also boasts some stirring action and intelligent dialogue

August 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinemania

Douglas is terrific as the iron-jawed slave fuelled by righteous fury.

June 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

The great-granddaddy of Ridley Scott's Gladiator hasn't lost any muscle tone after nearly half a century, and Kirk Douglas's direct, unpretentious performance as the great slave-rebel Spartacus is more engaging than ever.

June 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

One of the greatest Hollywood epics.

June 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

It is in the observation of human detail, and in many memorable little scenes that the film scores most heavily over other epics, and in which it finds an inner strength.

June 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

One of the last truly great Roman epics.

June 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Spartacus is a classic movie and this retored copy looks stunning on the big screen.

June 12, 2009
Daily Record [UK]

Arguably the greatest sword 'n' sandal movie of them all.

October 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

More than a standard good vs. evil drama, the movie is about a hero's inner struggle to persevere in carrying out an ideal that's almost certain to lead to his demise.

July 22, 2007 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

...notable not only for its expected sword play and scenery, but for the genuine complexity of its characters, their relationships, and their political intrigues.

November 8, 2006 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Decades later, it's still one of the most intelligent and stirring histrical epics to have come out of Hollywood, serving as a model for future generations of filmmakers.

August 17, 2005 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

The comparative frankness of the politics, sexuality, and violence, and especially the downbeat third act and memorable finale give it a dramatic heft beyond its predecessors.

May 2, 2005 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide
Decent Films Guide

A true spectacle. The restored version rates a 5

January 8, 2005
Nolan's Pop Culture Review

All in all, where the movie is flawed, it's due to following the cinematic conventions of the era.

June 10, 2004 Full Review Source: LYTRules.com | Comments (3)
LYTRules.com

Though this stuff could have been directed by anyone, the greatness of Spartacus is in the stretches everyone remembers.

May 19, 2004 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Many scenes ring passionate and rousing, while others are campy and silly, and somehow they all work together.

May 17, 2004 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid | Comments (4)
Combustible Celluloid

Audience Reviews for Spartacus

Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus is a defining classic that has withstood the test of time. Brilliantly acted and directed, this is one of the best epics that combines action, drama and romance. This is a stunning work of cinematic genius that is a must see for cinema fans of all ages looking for a terrific, well acted and brilliantly directed film with rousing action, thrills and a compelling story. This is among Kubrick's greatest works. This is a majestic piece of cinema, and remains one of the standout classics along with such works as Ben- Hur and Lawrence of Arabia. This is an epic film that is grand in scale and scope. This is a picture that only Stanley Kubrick could have directed. With a terrific cast of outstanding talent, this is a powerful work that delivers exciting visuals, great battles and memorable performances. Kirk Douglas delivers on-screen and his role is among the most famous roles in the long history of cinema. This is a wonderful film that is sure to please cinema buffs everywhere and it is among the greatest films ever made as well. The film is truly entertaining from start to finish right up to the unforgettable climax. This epic has had a profound impact on genre films for years to come, and though no film has surpassed the greatness of Spartacus, many pictures have been influenced by Kubrick's classic. A brilliant, compelling and unforgettable film that is among the greatest films ever made. A must see for serious film fans. This film is worth watching for Kirk Douglas performance alone, and there's plenty of aspects that stand out about this work. Stanley Kubrick would aim bigger and better with this film, and it set the stage for future films in Kubrick's long and legendary career.
November 5, 2012
TheDudeLebowski65
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

A seminal classic of sorts. One that is of true, simple story about injustice, the absurd and of freedom. Quite the riveting movie with the fitting mood and atmosphere and elegant drama to drive its archetypal hero. It's both tragic and triumphant, and bravely courageous.
August 9, 2012
Adriel Lim

Super Reviewer

An early Stanley Kubrick masterpiece. Dispite doesn't present very much the style of the filmmaker. Fresh.
July 27, 2012
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

While it is true that Kubrick never considered this to truly be one of his films, mostly because he didn't have full creative control, and it was primarily a labor of love for producer and star Kirk Douglas (who had the most control over things, including hiring Kubrick), there's still many sequences, moments, and themes that fit in with Kubrick's oeuvrepretty nicely.

Based on a novel based on actual historical events, this is the story of a slave turned gladiator who becomes the leader of a major slave uprising during the era of the ancient ROman Republic. Spartacus is a good and noble man, and he's baically shown to be a Christ-like figure in a pre-Christ world. Yes, the movie takes liberties with history, but at the same time, it's a pretty glorious star studded Old Hollywood style epic, except that it's, you know, far more violent (surprisingly so for 1960), has plenty of political and sexual subtext (it was written author Dalton Trumbo who was infamously blacklisted), and just a few of the typical Kubrick trademarks such as a rich and distinct visual style, great cinematography and camera movement, and definite themes of alienation and dehumanization.

Kirk Douglas, who looks chiseled out of marble gives a commanding perforamnce here, albeit it comes off as a little more hammy at times than I remember. Then again, the last time I saw this was over the course of several days in my 7th grade history class...way before I was a film buff, or knew (or cared) about Kubrick and films as art. Still, he dfoes decently enough, and he's backed up by a stellar supporting cast that inlcudes Laurence Oliviver, Peter Ustinov, Charles Laughton, Tony Curtis, and Jean Simmons, all of whom put in some great work.

All in all, this is a decent enough film, but maybe not as great as I once thought. It's certainly not terrible, and calling it lesser Kubrick is no sin, but it just seems to drag here and there a little too often and comes off as trying a little too hard. If you want a historical film done by Kubrick that's fast(er) paced and more action oriented (though not as great) as Barry Lyndon, then give this a go.
July 1, 2012
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

    1. Julius Caesar: I thought you had no reservations about the gods.
    2. Sempronius Gracchus: Privately I believe in none. Neither do you. Publicly I believe in them all.
    – Submitted by The Vinh H (12 months ago)
    1. Spartacus: He'll be back, he'll back and he'll be millions.
    – Submitted by Jesse K (13 months ago)
    1. Varinia: And neither am I!
    – Submitted by Jesse K (13 months ago)
    1. Spartacus: I'm not an animal!
    – Submitted by Jesse K (13 months ago)
    1. Marcus Licinius Crassus: I shall not violate Rome at the moment of possessing her.
    – Submitted by Thomas Y (2 years ago)
    1. Marcus Licinius Crassus (some scenes 1991 restoratio: Sneak out.
    2. Glabrus: As you wish.
    3. Marcus Licinius Crassus: And for heaven's sake, my young friend, try and see to it that you don't have to sneak back again.
    – Submitted by Thomas Y (2 years ago)
View all quotes (10)

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