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Spartacus (The Criterion Collection)

4.4 out of 5 stars 702 customer reviews

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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.

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

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: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (702 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005A8TY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,176 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Spartacus (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 6, 2003
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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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
***October 2015 Update***

Universal's 2010 release of this film on Blu-Ray was a piece of garbage. My review below was made on a 52" screen.I've since created a projection room in my home and watch on a 100" screen. The flaws of that 2010 disc are so glaringly obvious now that it defies belief that Universal even released it.

Well, Universal has gone back and restored Spartacus from a fresh 6k scan of the 35mm Technirama color separates. They've cleaned up the print of dirt and scratches and color corrected the whole film. They've created new 5.1 and 7.1 channel HD audio mixes.

In short, the results speak for themselves. Detail is superb. Individual grains of sand, facial pores (which were almost entirely absent in the 2010 craporama), skin creases, very light film grain, it's all here. And it's blissfully free of any evident DNR or edge enhancement. Colors pop but not unnaturally so. Black levels are strong and stable but not crushed. In a word, superlative. In more than one word, ravishing, transporting, reminds the viewer of how magical watching a movie can be.

I am bumping my rating up to 4 stars. But I can't in good conscience go with 5, because of the history. Universal owes its customers an apology, if not a refund for the travesty they foisted upon them in 2010. I doubt we'll see any of it (they have not replied to my customer service query about a refund or disc exchange). But this disc is at least a good start.

NOTE TO CUSTOMERS:

Do not under any circumstances buy the 2010 edition of this movie.
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6 Comments 59 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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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