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Spartacus (The Criterion Collection) (1960)

Kirk Douglas , Laurence Olivier , Anthony Mann , Stanley Kubrick  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (413 customer reviews)

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Multi-Format 1-Disc Version $14.30  
Blu-ray 50th Anniversary Edition $17.98  
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  2-Disc Version $27.98  
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Product Details

  • Actors: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov
  • Directors: Anthony Mann, Stanley Kubrick
  • Writers: Dalton Trumbo, Calder Willingham, Howard Fast
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Surround Sound, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: April 24, 2001
  • Run Time: 196 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (413 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005A8TY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,837 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Spartacus (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New transfer of the 1991 fully restored Super Technirama version
  • Disc One:
  • Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo's scene-by-scene analysis
  • Additional Alex North score compositions
  • Restoration demonstration
  • Disc Two:
  • Rare deleted scenes
  • Vintage newsreel footage
  • 1960 promotional interviews with Jean Simmons and Peter Ustinov
  • 1992 video interview with Peter Ustinov
  • Behind-the-scenes "gladitorial school" footage
  • The 1960 documentary The Hollywood Ten, plus archival documents about the blacklist
  • Original storyboards by Saul Bass
  • Hundreds of production stills, lobby cards, posters, print ads, and a comic book
  • Sketches by director Stanley Kubrick

Editorial Reviews

Stanley Kubrick directed a cast of screen legends-including Kirk Douglas as the indomitable gladiator that led a Roman slave revolt-in the sweeping epic that defined a genre and ushered in a new Hollywood era. The assured acting, lush Technicolor cinematography, bold costumes and visceral fight sequences won Spartacus four Oscars©; the blend of politics and sexual suggestion scandalized audiences. Today Kubrick's controversial classic, the first film to openly defy Hollywood's blacklist, remains a landmark of cinematic artistry and history.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
154 of 170 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
If you're a fan of the movie "Spartacus", this is the version to get; the Universal DVD is as bare bones as they get with just the movie. The Criterion version looks great. The facelift the film received help return much of its luster. Kubrick later disowned his version of the epic Hollywood Sword & Sandal genre, but Kubrick brings much of his sensibility to bear; the fight sequences and epic vistas bring to mind Kubrick's work on Paths of Glory and 2001. True, this isn't a complete Kubrick picture; Kubrick had nothing to do with the screenplay and Douglas had all but cast the picture in collaboration with director Anthony Mann (dismissed after butting heads with Douglas one too many times).

Is it Kubrick's finest film? Well, frankly no it isn't. It's an interesting mishmash between Kubrick's detached, ironic style and Hollywood glitz. Spartacus is Kubrick for people who don't care for Kubrick's detached style. It doesn't measure up to Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001 or A Clockwork Orange although it does compare favorable to the much darker Paths of Glory.

Kubrick stated that his intent at the time was to subvert the cliches of the genre. As a result, Kubrick manages to reinvent a genre that was in danger of becoming a parody of itself. As a collaborative effort, Spartacus is a great piece of entertainment and far more sophisticated than almost everything else that came out of Hollywood at the time.

The transfer is beautiful with much of Kubrick's bold use of color restored. The strong acting of most of the cast has always been a virtue of Sparatcus. The soundtrack has been meticulously transferred to 5.1 and Alex North's beatiful score has never sounded so sweet, tragic and powerful before. The audio commentary is the same one that was on the laserdisc version.
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112 of 123 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars great movie, TERRIBLE blu-ray June 10, 2010
Format:Blu-ray
Great movie. Horrible, horrible blu-ray. Maybe the worst blu-ray disc I've seen. Do not buy, wait for a recall. It's so blatantly awful even non-cinephiles will notice.

Here's the main problem: most all the film grain and fine detail have been completely wiped out in a clumsy attempt to remove video noise. Which begs the question: so what's the point of owning it on blu-ray?

What's worse is that it didn't have to be this way. But I guess this is what happens when an indifferent media conglomerate has complete control over a masterpiece. Check out Robert Harris's (the man who restored the film years ago) extremely negative review of this blu-ray on the web. I thought maybe he was overdoing it a bit, but no. It's even worse than he says. If you have the Criterion DVDSpartacus - Criterion Collection, just hang on to it for now.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
The Movie:

I've been letting this one sit in my collection for a few months before I let loose on it. This is one of my personal favorite movies. In the "swords and sandals" genre I think it is among the finest - it has a stirring story, a wonderful sense of scope, a great soundtrack, and a set of truly exceptional performances, including screen greats such as Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, and Kirk Douglas. Although it doesn't display the sort of technical mastery that Kubrick would assert on his later films, there is still a certain Kubrickian something to the direction, as well. Certain camera moves, certain lingering shots, certain compositions. All told, it's a great movie and a great representation of the 1950-60s "epic" motion picture tradition. At 3-plus hours, it always remains brisk and entertaining, and it's a movie I frequently revisit because of its richness and replay value.

The Blu-Ray:

But then we get to this transfer. Having owned the Criterion DVD edition of this film, I was well acquainted with its look and feel.

This Blu-Ray transfer has been stripped of all natural film grain. As such, a level of fine detail is missing from the image, one which has been compensated for by the application of edge enhancement (quite noticeable on the tall iron bars frequently visible in the gladiator school) and an artificially boosted contrast.

On the plus side, the image *is* more detailed than the Criterion DVD. Interested viewers ought to search "spartacus dvdbeaver" in order to see that site's comparison between the Criterion DVD and the Universal Blu-Ray. You should be able to note that several of the comparison shots show that mid-sized details are much sharper. But fine details such as film grain are gone.
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62 of 69 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Long before Russell Crowe picked up his sword and battled corrupt Roman emperors, Kirk Douglas showed him the way in "Spartacus". This epic 1960 film still ranks as one of the best performances in Douglas's distinguished career, and it marked his second collaboration with famed director Stanley Kubrick. Even more than "Gladiator", "Spartacus" is based on a real historical event, although it greatly exaggerates the actual history. Spartacus was a Roman slave in the first century AD who became a gladiator for the Romans, but then escaped and formed an enormous army (estimated at anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000) of freed slaves and gladiators. For the next year this army, under Spartacus's leadership, terrorized the Italian countryside, until they were finally trapped and destroyed in battle with the still-powerful Roman Army.

As an old-fashioned Hollywood epic, "Spartacus" doesn't disappoint the viewer - there are epic battle scenes, high drama, and some great acting by several Hollywood legends. Interestingly, the film's producers felt that the contrast between the slave-gladiators and their corrupt Roman masters would be given greater contrast if they cast British actors (Sir Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, Charles Laughton) as the leading Roman characters, and American actors as the slaves (Douglas, Tony Curtis, Jean Simmons). All of the actors listed above shine in this film - Olivier simply drips with menace and hypocrisy as the great Roman General Crassus, who will stop at nothing to crush the slave revolt and bring the entire Roman Empire under his personal control. Laughton is delightful as Gracchus, a fat and somewhat corrupt, but also clever and freedom-loving, Roman Senator who loathes Crassus.
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Is Criterion going to release Spartacus on blu ray?
I do wish Criterion, or someone, would get the rights to this fabulous movie and do a proper transfer. Anyone who has ever seen the original 70mm print of Spartacus will be disgusted by the truly awful transfer Universal made of this, one of their all-time best and most expensive productions. The... Read More
Mar 13, 2013 by Jon Lidolt |  See all 4 posts
Spartacus Blu-Ray Edition
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/forum/thread/300552/a-few-words-about-spartacus-in-blu-ray
Questions?
May 14, 2010 by M. Hafner |  See all 9 posts
additional languages & subtitles?
I live in France. This fantastic 50 years old Blu-Ray is ZONED !!! and we cannot get it in France, it is not released. Crazy politic...
Nov 19, 2010 by Raymond Ackaouy |  See all 2 posts
Deleted Scenes?
All I know is that a lot of battle scenes were deleted from the original movie. Hopefully these are back in this digital version.
Aug 29, 2010 by Robea |  See all 2 posts
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