Part of our Film 100
The American Film Institute Essentials
The fate of ancient Rome is changed forever when Spartacus (Kirk Douglas), a rebellious slave, is purchased by Lentulus Batiatus (Peter Ustinov), owner of a school for gladiators. For the entertainment of corrupt Roman senator Marcus Licinius Crassus (Laurence Olivier), the gladiators must fight to the death.
On the night before the event, the enslaved gladiators are "rewarded" with female companionship. Spartacus meets and falls in love with Varinia (Jean Simmons), a slave from Brittania. Soon after, he learns that Varinia has been sold to Crassus, and Spartacus leads 78 of his fellow gladiators in revolt. Word of the gladiators' rebellion against the Roman leaders spreads like wildfire, and soon Spartacus' army numbers in the hundreds. Hearing of the massive army and having fallen in love with Spartacus, Varinia escapes to find her love.
The gladiators' revolt leads to a political struggle between Crassus and a more temperate senator named Gracchus (Charles Laughton).
Anthony Mann was the original director of Spartacus, eventually replaced by Stanley Kubrick, who'd previously guided Douglas through Paths of Glory. The film received 4 Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor for Ustinov. It was also the first film to openly defy Hollywood's infamous blacklist. A crucial scene between Olivier and Tony Curtis, removed from the 1967 reissue (due to homosexual implications), was restored in 1991 with a nerwly-recorded soundtrack featuring Curtis as his younger self and Anthony Hopkins standing in for the deceased Olivier.
|Suggested MPAA rating: PG-13 for battle|
sequences and sensuality