Spartacus: Blood & Sand, Season 1

Spartacus: Blood & Sand, Season 1

Static Mass Rating: 5/5

Release date: May 16th 2011
Certificate (UK): 18
Running time: 663 minutes

Director: Michael Hurst, Rick Jacobson, Jesse Warn
Created by: Steven S. DeKnight

Cast: Andy Whitfield, Erin Cummings, John Hannah, Manu Bennett, Lucy Lawless, Jai Courtney, Viva Bianca

Spartacus, the real one, according to historical records is most likely to have lived between 109 BC and 71 BC. The story of the Thracian warrior who went on to lead a rebellion against the Roman Republic has been told and told again over the centuries, even though not much is known about him before or after these events.

This new version, created Steven S. DeKnight and with Sam Raimi as one of its executive producers, aims to fill in those blanks with a violent, bloody and sexually charged re-imagining.

Spartacus: Blood & Sand, Season 1

The show starts with how Spartacus (Andy Whitfield), a Thracian warrior, becomes a gladiator in the arena. Betrayed by the Roman Republic and with his wife, Sura (Erin Cummings) sold into slavery, he has no choice but to fight to stay alive in a place where he’s been condemned to death. After proving his worth, Spartacus is sent to a gladiator school owned by Batiatus (Hannah) and his wife Lucretia (Lawless) and they both have their reasons for either wanting him alive or dead, depending on what day it is.

As a gladiator, Spartacus wins the favour of the blood thirsty crowds who flock to watch the games. Although friends are hard to come by, he manages to make a few alliances along the way, including Varro (Jai Courtney), to help him lead a revolt against the Romans; one that he hopes will bring about not only his freedom, but his wife’s. Eventually, that alliance will also extend to Crixus (Manu Bennett), the champion of Capua, as the fight for freedom becomes one of desperate revenge.


  • The Red Serpent
  • Sacramentum Gladiatorum
  • Legends
  • The Thing in the Pit
  • Shadow Games
  • Delicate Things
  • Great and Unfortunate Things
  • Mark of the Brotherhood
  • Whore
  • Party Favours
  • Old Wounds
  • Revelations
  • Kill Them All

More in the style of 300 (2006) than Spartacus (1960), this new version re-imagines the Thracian warrior soaked in blood and with much of the cast sometimes only wearing what they were born with, i.e. – nothing.

While the excessive use of blood splatter makes it look more like a comic book, the fight sequences themselves are barbaric and extremely graphic. It makes for an odd moment as we watch the crowds cheering and driving their fists into the air, hungry and demanding more blood… are we watching ourselves?

Spartacus: Blood & Sand, Season 1

The language is coarse and I struggle to think of another television show which makes such frequent use of the words “cock”, “fuck” and “cunt” in a single episode as this one does, but this all makes for part of the charm of Spartacus. It’s not supposed to be Shakespeare or tea-time entertainment, it’s about the bloody fight for freedom during a time when people were either captured, bought or sold into slavery to entertain the bourgeois. At the same, it’s also very refreshing to see the Romans carry out their sexual activities with such abandon before the Dark Ages came along and ruined it for everyone.


  • Behind The Scenes
  • Battle Royale
  • Gladiator Boot Camp
  • Grime & Punishment
  • Andy Gets Plastered
  • Legend Re-imagined
  • Oh, Those Randy Romans
  • Shooting Green: The Shadow of Death
  • Exposing Your Ludus
  • Spartacus ‘Vengeance’ trailer
  • Audio Commentaries

Whitfield is absolutely compelling to watch as Spartacus. An animal in the arena and yet his face and body exudes such grace and beauty, despite his battle wounds. It is of course a blow to know that the actor has now had to bow out of the show due to his Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer with Liam McIntyre taking his place in Season 2. Lucy Lawless as Lucretia remains, as always, a joy to watch and fans of Xena: Warrior Princess will finally get a chance to see what’s behind the tunic.

Spartacus: Blood & Sand, Season 1

Viva Bianca as Ilithyia, the spoilt daughter of a senator and wife of a Roman army legatus is delightful in her tactless, outspoken and scheming ways and it’s therefore a pleasure to watch her long for Crixus to tend to her garden. Crixus, played by the towering Manu Bennett is rather brutish, but beneath his bronzed exterior lies the heart of a man torn between his loyalty to Lucretia and his love for her servant, Naevia (Lesley-Ann Brand).

For all its violence, there’s also passion, for all it’s gore, there’s the lavish sets, costumes backdrops. Spartacus is a show of contrasting themes, like two sides to the same coin, albeit a Roman coin.

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