Spartacus Movie (1960)

Spartacus movie review (1960)

Spartacus is a 1960 movie about the Third Servile War in the 1st century B.C. (73-71 B.C.) which was a major slave revolt led by a man called Spartacus. In the movie, we get to see historical characters such as Marcus Licinius Crassus (played by Laurence Oliver) who was the richest man in the Rome and said to be the richest man ever in the history of mankind. We also get to see Julius Caesar (played by John Gavin) in his young years and of course Spartacus (played by Kirk Douglas).

The movie introduces us to the world of slavery in antiquity. It starts with slave trader Lentulus Batiatus (played by Peter Ustinov), also a real historical figure, who is looking to purchase slaves at a Roman mine. We get a taste of the harsh working conditions that slaves faced in these mines. We are then taken to a gladiator school where slaves are trained to become gladiators. A riot breaks out at the school and slaves escape to later form an army of gladiators.

At some point in the movie, we get to see the Roman Senate where senators are alarmed by Spartacus' advances and multiple victories against Roman armies. At another point, we are taken to a Roman bath where Crassus and young Caesar discuss the threat of this slave army. We also enter the splendid villa of Marcus Licinius Crassus. Throughout the movie there are amazing shots of the city of Rome and the Roman Forum. The special effects were definitely quite good for their time!

spartacus 1960

Varinia in the Appian Way showing Spartacus his son

Eventually Crassus is given full powers by the Roman Senate in order to defeat the army of Spartacus. Viewers get to see a major battle and the incredible organization and efficiency of the Roman army.

At the end of the movie, we see slave trader Lentulus Batiatus looking to buy new slaves following Spartacus' defeat. Then we are shown an incredible sight: that of thousands of slaves being crucified by the Appian Way including Spartacus, something that really did happen back in 71 B.C.. The movie ends with a touching scene: Spartacus' wife Varinia shows the crucified Spartacus his son and tells him that his son will be free.

Overall, an amazing movie, amazing because of its historical accuracy, special effects and great acting (the choice of actors couldn't have been better). The movie was actually extremely popular back in the 1960s. It was actually Universal Studios most profitable movie ever until the early 70s! Interestingly, the screenwriter Dalton Trumbo had been blacklisted (during America's witchhunt of communists in the 1950s) and President JFK ended the blacklisting after watching the movie.


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