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Spartacus (1960)

Spartacus is based on the true life story of the historical figure and the events of the Third Servile War. It was produced by Kirk Douglas, who also starred as rebellious slave Spartacus, and co- starred Laurence Olivier as his foe, the Roman general and politician Marcus Licinius Crassus. Douglas hired Kubrick, after having previously worked with him on Paths of Glory, to take over direction soon after he fired director Anthony Mann. Kubrick, at 31, had already directed four feature films, and this became his largest by far, with a cast of over 10,000. At the time it was the most expensive film ever made in America. It was also the first time that Kubrick filmed using the anamorphic 35mm horizontal Super Technirama process to achieve ultra-high definition, which allowed him to capture large panoramic scenes, including one with 8,000 trained soldiers from Spain representing the Roman army. Kubrick was accustomed to staging and lighting all scenes, as a result of his photography background. According to film author Alan K. Rode, Kubrick began instructing cinematographer Russell Metty, who was twice Kubrick's age, how to photograph and light scenes, which led to Metty threatening to quit. Metty later muted his criticisms after winning the Oscar for Best Cinematography, his only win during his career. Kubrick had conflicts with Douglas, including his dissatisfaction with the screenplay. He also complained about not having full creative control over the artistic aspects. For Douglas, the film was a "labor of love". He had used his own funds to purchase an option on the book Spartacus from author Howard Fast, and he hired all the primary creative forces involved in production, including Kubrick. Kubrick decided that in the future he wanted to have autonomy on films he worked on, and as a result, Spartacus became the last film in his career where he lacked full control. Originally, Fast was hired to adapt his own novel as a screenplay, but he had difficulty working in the format. He was replaced by Dalton Trumbo, who had been blacklisted as one of the Hollywood Ten. Douglas insisted that Trumbo be given screen credit for his work, which helped to break the blacklist. The filming was plagued by the conflicting visions of Kubrick and Trumbo. Kubrick complained that the character of Spartacus had no faults or quirks, and he later distanced himself from the film. Despite the on-set troubles, Spartacus was a critical and commercial success and established Kubrick as a major director, receiving six Academy Award nominations and winning four. It marked the end of the working relationship between Kubrick and Douglas. Co-star Tony Curtis, in his autobiography, called Kubrick his favorite director, and praised his individual relationships with actors.

Quick facts

Directed by Stanley Kubrick Produced by Edward Lewis Screenplay by Dalton Trumbo Based on Spartacus by Howard Fast Starring Kirk Douglas Laurence Olivier Jean Simmons Charles Laughton Peter Ustinov John Gavin Tony Curtis Narrated by Vic Perrin Music by Alex North Cinematography Russell Metty Edited by Robert Lawrence Production company Bryna Productions Distributed by Universal I nternational Release dates October 6, 1960 (DeMille Theatre) October 7, 1960 (United States) Running time 184 minutes Country United States
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Spartacus (1960)

Spartacus is based on the true life story of the historical figure and the events of the Third Servile War. It was produced by Kirk Douglas, who also starred as rebellious slave Spartacus, and co-starred Laurence Olivier as his foe, the Roman general and politician Marcus Licinius Crassus. Douglas hired Kubrick, after having previously worked with him on Paths of Glory, to take over direction soon after he fired director Anthony Mann. Kubrick, at 31, had already directed four feature films, and this became his largest by far, with a cast of over 10,000. At the time it was the most expensive film ever made in America. It was also the first time that Kubrick filmed using the anamorphic 35mm horizontal Super Technirama process to achieve ultra-high definition, which allowed him to capture large panoramic scenes, including one with 8,000 trained soldiers from Spain representing the Roman army. Kubrick was accustomed to staging and lighting all scenes, as a result of his photography background. According to film author Alan K. Rode, Kubrick began instructing cinematographer Russell Metty, who was twice Kubrick's age, how to photograph and light scenes, which led to Metty threatening to quit. Metty later muted his criticisms after winning the Oscar for Best Cinematography, his only win during his career. Kubrick had conflicts with Douglas, including his dissatisfaction with the screenplay. He also complained about not having full creative control over the artistic aspects. For Douglas, the film was a "labor of love". He had used his own funds to purchase an option on the book Spartacus from author Howard Fast, and he hired all the primary creative forces involved in production, including Kubrick. Kubrick decided that in the future he wanted to have autonomy on films he worked on, and as a result, Spartacus became the last film in his career where he lacked full control. Originally, Fast was hired to adapt his own novel as a screenplay, but he had difficulty working in the format. He was replaced by Dalton Trumbo, who had been blacklisted as one of the Hollywood Ten. Douglas insisted that Trumbo be given screen credit for his work, which helped to break the blacklist. The filming was plagued by the conflicting visions of Kubrick and Trumbo. Kubrick complained that the character of Spartacus had no faults or quirks, and he later distanced himself from the film. Despite the on-set troubles, Spartacus was a critical and commercial success and established Kubrick as a major director, receiving six Academy Award nominations and winning four. It marked the end of the working relationship between Kubrick and Douglas. Co-star Tony Curtis, in his autobiography, called Kubrick his favorite director, and praised his individual relationships with actors.

Quick facts

Directed by Stanley Kubrick Produced by Edward Lewis Screenplay by Dalton Trumbo Based on Spartacus by Howard Fast Starring Kirk Douglas Laurence Olivier Jean Simmons Charles Laughton Peter Ustinov John Gavin Tony Curtis Narrated by Vic Perrin Music by Alex North Cinematography Russell Metty Edited by Robert Lawrence Production company Bryna Productions Distributed by Universal I nternational Release dates October 6, 1960 (DeMille Theatre) October 7, 1960 (United States) Running time 184 minutes Country United States
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