Saturday, February 27, 2010

review: Spartacus

Politics and War in Roman times. Just as terrible as Politics and War in these times.
A good movie, a rather good movie. Wonderful performances. This is definately worthy of the title "sprawling epic" Rightfully so.
Popular lore has it that Kirk Douglas was disappointed that he did not get the lead in Ben-Hur, so he decided to have his own epic. And he got Stanley Kubrick to direct. Again, this is a movie I would never have expected him to make. But then again, it does fit, with its twisted human acts.
It is honored by being on 5, count them, 5 AFI lists. Those being 100 Thrills, 100 Heros & Villians, 100 Cheers, top 10 Genre, and on the over Top 100 movies list. Quite the honors, isn't it? It was nominated for 6 Oscars, winning 4 of them for Colored Costume Design, Art Direction, and Cinematography, and for Best Suppurtoing Actor Peter Ustinov.
All are well deserved - especially Ustinov's honor. He plays a wonderful, part evil man. His character is not bad, but he is intirely driven by money, which makes him less than savory. Laurence Olivier plays a truly maddening guy - what makes him so maddening is that he is so noble in his mind. Everything he goes is for the "good of Rome" Rome this, Rome that, and oh, he has so much pride! Drives you crazy, a little. So much so that you really do begin to prefer the lechery and outright "badness" of the Gracchus character. Who, is also quite wonderful in his role. His own trechery is his downfall, but you can't help but admire the old bastard despite of, or maybe even because of his ways. Of course, Kirk Douglas is wonderful, and Jean Simmons is apporpraite.
The trouble, for all actors, I think, is that since this took place so long ago, you often wonder if any of these portrayals are at all accurate. How can you know? And does it really matter? Movies like these are not for the glory of history and men so much as it is a allegory(?do I even have that right?) for the modern age. Maybe what I mean is a fictional representation for the purpose of a moral. In which case, it doesn't really matter, so long as the idea gets accross.
All in all, a good epic.
3 out of 5 stars

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