Spartacus 50th Anniversary Edition

Spartacus 50th Anniversary Edition

Static Mass Rating: 3/5
DEVIL (Blu-ray)

Release date: January 24th 2011
Certificate (UK): PG
Running time: 187 minutes
Year of production: 1960

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Cast: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Tony Curtis, Peter Ustinov

After losing out to Charlton Heston in William Wyler’s Ben Hur (1959), Kirk Douglas set out make his own historical epic. Together with Edward Lewis he produced Spartacus based on the novel by Howard Fast.

The movie begins after a four minute overture with the music of Alex North. Spartacus (Douglas) is a slave sentenced to death for his kindness, but is spotted by Lentulus Batiatus (Peter Ustinov) who buys him on account of his spirit, health and good shape to train as a gladiator. He will be cleaned, shaved, oiled, massaged and if Spartacus pleases him, he will be given a woman for companionship.


Varinia (Jean Simmons) is brought to him and he falls in love with her but when Roman senator Crassus (Laurence Olivier) purchases her from Batiatus, it stirs him to start an uprising. Slaves and gladiators alike join him.

Antoninus (Tony Curtis), a tutor from Sicily is bought by Crassus and after some suggestive talk about oysters and snails while helping him bathe, he runs away to joins Spartacus’ uprising. It seems Crassus was not to the tutor’s taste.


The bathhouse sequence with Olivier and Curtis was never shown until a re-release in 1991 but the audio was lost. It had to be re-dubbed with Anthony Hopkins filling in for Olivier who passed away 2 years earlier.

Spartacus - Olivier and Curtis

Crassus: Do you eat oysters?
Antoninus: When I have them, master.
Crassus: Do you eat snails?
Antoninus: No, master.
Crassus: Do you consider the eating of oysters to be moral and the eating of snails to be immoral?
Antoninus: No, master.
Crassus: Of course not. It is all a matter of taste, isn’t it?
Antoninus: Yes, master.
Crassus: And taste is not the same as appetite, and therefore not a question of morals.
Antoninus: It could be argued so, master.
Crassus: My robe, Antoninus. My taste includes both snails and oysters.

As Rome sends in more and more recruits to deal with Spartacus’ uprising, he crushes them all, but eventually the rebel army will feel the fist of Rome. Their defeat leads to another of the film’s famous scenes where Crassus promises the prisoners will not be punished if they can identify Spartacus’ body. One by one they stand up and declare “I am Spartacus!”


  • Deleted Scenes

- Spartacus Meets Varina (US Version)
- Spartacus Meets Varina (UK Version)
- 1967 Finale
- Gracchus’s Suicide (Audio Recording)

  • Acrchival Interviews

- Peter Ustinov
- Jean Simmons

  • Behind-the-scenes Footage
  • 5 Vintage Newsreels
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Image Gallery

There’s a handful of special features including 2 alternate scenes where Spartacus meets Varina and a shorter version of the final scene from the movie. As the footage from Gracchus’s suicide was lost, only the audio is presented here.

The archival interviews are interesting as they show how interviews were conducted during the ’60′s. Peter Ustinov talks about his role and explains how the film sheds a different light on Batiatus. He ends the interview with an assortment of impressions including a car battery and a cello!

Jean Simmons talks about how hard it is working with Olivier; he is so good she forgets what she is supposed to be doing in the scene.

Although deeply inaccurate and generally overlooked by Kubrick fans, Spartacus remains a Hollywood classic and features one of Douglas’s best performances but he is outshone by Olivier and Ustinov who bring to the table the full force of their acting skills.

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