(Review originally written at 31 January 2011)

Basically all of Kubrick's movie had an epic feel to it, due to the way they got done but with this movie Kubrick perhaps delivers his only true epic movie, in terms of its story and battles.

It also at the same time is the Kubrick movie that feels the least Kubrick-like. This is no wonder, since Kubrick got brought in very late into the project by star Kirk Douglas, after he had a falling out with the original first director Anthony Mann. It hasn't really been ever clearly specified how many scenes Mann already had shot but I think its more than most people try to make you believe. Especially in the beginning there still quite a lot of moments that seem Mann-like, mostly with its character handling and interactions between the different characters. It seems as if it only are the last 30 minutes of the movie that feel typical Kubrick like and its no coincidence that the last 30 minutes of the movie are also the very best minutes of the entire movie.

Because it really doesn't matter how great or lacking you think the first hours of this movie are, the movie gets made and comes totally together at its fine ending. I can definitely see still the flaws of this movie. The story doesn't always connect and its progress and characters are somewhat lacking at times. Suddenly Spartacus becomes the leader of the slave army, without a doubt or question from anyone else and not only that but he turns out to be a strategic mastermind, despite that fact that he had spend whole his life being chained and put to work in the mines. It are all little things like that that bug but like I said, the movie doesn't fully come together until its fantastic final 30 minutes, when suddenly everything works out amazingly and falls into its place.

The true story of Spartacus always have been an intriguing one. A former slave who made the Roman capital tremble and this movie version of famous story is still the very best one of it out there. It captures a lot of its story and it actually tells it from many different perspectives. There are quite a lot of characters in the movie and the movie itself is also a real long one, with its 3 hours+ running time. But no, the movie obviously never bores, which is mostly also becomes of the many different characters and their viewpoints and plot lines.

And the movie above most things still really remains an actors movie. It builds heavily on its characters, so it also relies heavily on its actor's performances. But with a cast like this movie had, that hardly was a risky undertaking.

It of course has Kirk Douglas in the lead role but the movie its best performances come from its supporting cast members. Persons like Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton and Peter Ustinov for instance. A whole bunch of familiar faces show up in this movie, even for some really minor parts at times.

By todays standards, this movie might not be the most exciting one to watch out there but this is something that never bothered me. It always had been a movie to me that was about the story behind the story of Spartacus. Having said that, there are still a bunch of action sequences in this movie, as whole a a couple of really large scale sequences. After all, this movie is still really an epic, that's expensive- and big looking.

Still the best, most impressive and the most effective telling of the Spartacus story.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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