Director: Stanley Kubrick
Screenwriters: Howard Fast, Dalton Trumbo

Institute History

  • 1992 Sundance Film Festival


Although a film about brotherhood and slaves attempting to win their freedom and forge new lives may seem old hat today, Spartacus had considerably more resonance in 1960, the threshold of the civil rights movement. Still, then as now, it is notable chiefly for its sweeping panoramas and colorful pageantry rather than its story about a rebellion led by Spartacus (Kirk Douglas), a Thracian slave, against the might and majesty of ancient Rome. Although not a typical Kubrick film in many ways (he was called into the project to replace fired director Anthony Mann and had no input into the script), Spartacus reveals its maker’s consummate ability to orchestrate larger-than-life events and capture them with his camera. The film is worth seeing if only to catch one of Charles Laughton’s last great performances and his witty scenes with compatriot Peter Ustinov, who won an Academy Award as the boorish, bumbling Batiatus. This is the recently released full-length version which restores footage establishing Crassus’s (Olivier’s) obsession with his slave Antoninus (Curtis). The film also won awards for cinematography, art direction and costumes.

— Barbara Bannon

Screening Details

  • Section: Stanley Kubrick: American Master Abroad
  • Film Type: Dramatic Feature
  • Country: U.S.A.
  • Run Time: 196 min.
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