Kirk Douglas stars as a gladiator who instigates a rebellion and forms an army of slaves to challenge the might of ancient Rome.
The best of the swords and sandals epics of yesteryear, this is also probably Stanley Kubrick’s most mainstream work although it still contains more adult material than most. The violence is relatively gruesome for something that has become accepted as a “matinee” style film and it tackles subjects that were taboo at the time – namely the now notorious “oysters and snails” scene. It was obviously a big influence on Gladiator and like Ridley Scott’s film contains some rousing action performed by a charismatic lead, skillfully intermingled with intriguing political machinations. The supporting cast is exceptional, featuring Lawrence Olivier, Charles Laughton and Peter Ustinov who all light up the screen when they appear with some fantastic dialogue.
The only real drawback is its sheer length; the middle section is padded out with some unnecessary emotional button pushing and romantic interludes, but otherwise Spartacus is very impressive stuff.