There has been a little delay in my movie challenge. And the reason is I had a difficult time tracking down a copy of the movie. The 81st movie on the top 100 AFI list is Spartacus. After watching Sunrise, a silent film from 1927, I was surprised by my inability to find a copy of a movie made in 1960. First I tried Lovefilm.com but to no avail. Then I went to my local video stores and struck out completely. I’m not big into buying movies (I have too many books and have no room for DVDs) so I didn’t want to try that route unless I absolutely had to.
Then a few weeks ago I saw it was going to be on TV. Perfect right? I wasn’t home when it was on, but I recorded it. Or I thought I did. I really started to consider skipping it. Let’s be honest, I set the rule of watching the movies in order so I could break it. But then I looked online and saw that it would be on TV again the following weekend and luckily the recording worked.
After all of this work, okay it wasn’t all that much work, I finally sat down and watched the movie. Before I give my verdict, here’s a quick rundown of the plot.
Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) is a slave living under Roman rule in Libya. He stops to help an older slave who has fallen down and is punished for this by a Roman soldier. Spartacus doesn’t get back to work. Instead he attacks the soldier and bites him on the ankle. He is sentenced to die by starvation for this outburst. Soon after, Lentulus Batiatus (Peter Ustinov) visits the work area in search of conscripts for his gladiatorial school. He sees potential in the feisty slave and takes him back to his school.
During Spartacus’s training he falls in love with another slave. However, being a slave under Roman rule proves over and over to be a bad situation. The female slave, Varinia (Jean Simmons), is sold. Spartacus learns of this and is also fed up with how he and the other trainees are treated. He starts an uprising. Eventually he becomes a leader of escaped slaves and does his best to rock the Roman world with his band of renegades.
The movie, directed by Stanley Kubrick, has a stellar cast. Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, John Gavin, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, and Tony Curtis are a few of the big names. It won four Academy Awards and has been on many lists for the greatest movies of all time.
Yet, I wasn’t a big fan. At times I thought it was brilliant and at other times I was bored. The acting was fantastic but the story let me down. Overall, the story is decent but it just kind of rambled along and seemed pointless on occasion. The scene when the slaves proclaim “I’m Spartacus” was touching but I wished they got to that part sooner.
The next movie on the list is The Apartment. I hope it is much easier to track down. If not, I have plenty of books to read.