Monday, February 21, 2011

Epic #5 - Spartacus (1960)

I'm sure you've heard his before, but: I am Spartacus. It's true. Spartacus, is, in fact, so awesome that I would be totally willing to claim to be him. He is amazing. This whole movie is really awesome, actually. I would so totally watch Spartacus again. I would buy Spartacus. It's quite awesome. Let me tell you why.

Spartacus is about...Spartacus, a Roman slave who's sold into a Gladiator school (apparently they had those), and then leads a mass revolt and commands an army of slaves against Rome. And then dies. Which is a bummer, but also awesome, because Spartacus is always awesome. I sort of thought that Spartacus was going to be a lot like The Ten Commandments, except with Rome instead of Egypt, and more Gladiators, but it wasn't. I really liked Spartacus. I liked all of the characters, and I liked the romance, and I actually rooted for the main characters. So that's good.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before, but I really love tag lines. It doesn't matter how good the movie is, the tag line is always silly. It's just a rule. This movie has really awesome silly tag lines. I was more entertained by reading these tag lines than I was by watching Reds. One of the tag lines describes Spartacus as "The thrilling adventure that electrified the world!", exclamation point and all. Another says that "It roars with fierce excitement!", which is totally the phrase I thought of while watching it. It's also "More titanic than any story ever told!" and I do have to give credit where credit is due here: Titanic was in fact more titanic than Spartacus. So good for them there. This last one is actually my favorite, so prepare yourself..."They trained him to kill for their pleasure...but they trained him a little too well..." I think the elipses make it. I love those elipses.

Spartacus is directed by Stanley Kubrick. I have seen Stanley Kubrick movies before, and I was very surprised by how...not weird this movie was. Seriously, there was no bizarre editing, no scenes in complete silence, no sweeping camera angles starting at the ceiling. There was some rather whimsical music. Surprisingly whimsical music, actually, for a movie about gladiators. There was also the single longest marching scene ever, when the Roman army advances on the slave army near the end. I swear this scene was five minutes long. It was just endless marching Roman soldiers.

Watching that scene is a lot like staring at this picture for four minutes.

Spartacus himself is really a lot like Charleton Heston's Moses in The Ten Commandments. There both very classic hero-type heroes. They're very manly and strong and dramatic. I liked Spartacus better than Moses though. Charleton Heston was very dramatic in his acting. The way he delivered his lines sounded a lot like he was dramatically delivering lines, which admittedly he was, but it shouldn't sound like that. When Kirk Douglas (He's Spartacus) delivers his lines, it sounds like Spartacus is a naturally dramatic person. It doesn't sound so much like he was acting. Usually the excessive hero-ness annoys me, but I liked Spartacus. He was very noble and strong and instead of being vaguely impatient with it, I could see why people admire that. Spartacus was a leader. It was very impressive.

In Spartacus, Crassus, the Roman lord in charge of defeating Spartacus, is played by Lawrence Olivier. Yes, not only is Lawrence Olivier The Best Hamlet Ever, he is also Sir Lawrence Olivier. I think that's why this movie is so awesome.

Lawrence Olivier is not the best part of this movie though.

This man is the best part of this movie.

That's Peter Ustinov, and he is awesome. In Spartacus he plays Batiatus, who runs the Gladiator school that Spartacus is sold to. The scenes he's in are some of the best scenes in the movie. He's just so good. You kind of have to watch the movie to know what I'm talking about, but he's great. He steals every single scene he's in. Apparently he actually wrote some of the scenes he's in, which explains why they're so terrific. It gets even better though, because he's been knighted. I know. You can't question knighthood.

Besides Sir Peter Ustinov, the best part of this movie is near the end. Spartacus' army has been defeated by the Roman army (I'm sorry if I'm spoiling this for anyone, but really you should know this, it's ancient history,) and the army says to the slaves, "Hey, if you tell us which one Spartacus is, we won't kill all of you." Faced with this decision, does Spartacus' army give him up? No! Every single one of them stands up and says "I am Spartacus." It is maybe the single most awesome thing I have ever seen. And what does Spartacus do? Spartacus is so touched by this that he allows one single manly tear to run down his face. Because Spartacus is that awesome.

I watched a restored version, and it looks really good. Really sharp and clear. Here's something cool: There's a scene in the middle of the movie that they cut out when the movie was first released, and they put the scene back in for the restoration. The sound had been lost, so they rerecorded it with other people. The person who recorded Lawrence Olivier's lines was Anthony Hopkins. Anthony Hopkins who was also knighted. I think it's obvious what makes this movie so incredible.

In conclusion, I would say that Spartacus is the best movie so far. I really enjoyed Spartacus, and I would totally watch it again. Kudos to you Stanley Kubrick.

Kudos to you.

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