So-called sword-and-sandal movies (think Gladiator, 300, Ben-Hur) don’t come more visually sumptuous or intelligent than legendary director Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 epic Spartacus, starring a ridiculously fit Kirk Douglas in the title role, Laurence Oliver as the fabulously named Marcus Licinius Crassus and a stellar cast of others (Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov) certain to make anyone who blew coin on Channing Tatum’s pathetic The Eagle weep.
The film, which follows legendary gladiator Spartacus as he ferociously leads a slave army against the forces of Imperial Rome, is screening now through August 17 at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox.
Not only that, but it’s screening in 70mm, described as “the brightest colours and clearest picture in the best widescreen format ever,” which is swell and all but pretty much moot since anything directed by Kurbrick, especially on a big screen, is well worth the price of admission.
In addition to loads of awesome behind-the-scenes trivia (example: Part of the film was shot at William Randolph Hearst's California castle, San Simeon, where the horsemen ride up the marble stairs), Spartacus also contains some fantastic goofs (watch closely for ancient Romans wearing wristwatches).
It also captured the now-frail Douglas at the very height of his career in all his dimpled-chin, rippling-abs hunkiness.
The granddaddy of all sword-and-sandal epics, Spartacus is appointment viewing and far superior to any dodgy remakes… catch it if you can.