"I am Spartacus!"
A classic film by Stanley Kubrick
starring Kirk Douglas
in his most famous role, based on the 1951 novel by Howard Fast which was Inspired By
history, and a rather brutal Deconstruction
of the Sword And Sandal
movies that preceded it by showing just what a Crapsack World The Roman Republic
Spartacus is a slave from the last years of the Roman Republic. He escapes and becomes the leader of a slave army that nobly fights the Romans under the evil Roman aristocrat
, Marcus Licinius Crassus...
This film was banned in some areas because of violence and sexual content. A re-release in 1967 cut a lot of the objectionable material, including a dialogue Crassus has with his servant about his liking both oysters and snails.
It's especially noteworthy because the audio track for this scene was lost in the 1970s. When Spartacus was restored in 1991 the scene was recreated: Tony Curtis
redubbed his lines at the age of 66. Laurence Olivier
was dead, but his lines were dubbed by Anthony Hopkins
Definitely an Epic Movie
. The filming went on for years
- at the time a reporter asked Peter Ustinov's young daughter what he did for a living. She replied "Spartacus!" (Ustinov not only played Batiatus, the owner of the gladitorial school from which Spartacus begins his slave revolt, he completely re-wrote all of Charles Laughton
's scenes in the film after the latter threatened to quit the film over his displeasure with the script — or the weather — or the time of day (Laughton was about as unpredictable and moody as they come). The credited screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, failed to mention these re-writes when praise for the script, particularly the witty scenes between Ustinov and Laughton, began pouring in.
For the Starz series see: Spartacus: Blood and Sand
- Aristocrats Are Evil
- Army of Thieves and Whores
- As You Know: When Crassus, Glabrus, and their companions arrive at Batiatus's school, he greets them by reeling off their names and accomplishments (or the accomplishments of their family members, in the case of the women). Since his guests already know who they are and he obviously knows it, too, it would seem that this is the purpose of the introduction. In-story, he's just sucking up to some extremely wealthy and influential guests.
- Babies Ever After: The Love Interest escapes alive, with her (and Spartacus') son.
- Black Best Friend: Draba to Spartacus.
- Black Guy Dies First: Not how the trope usually plays out, but it happens in something of a Heroic Sacrifice that incites the gladiator revolt.
- Big Bad: Crassus becomes this in the final act.
- Bittersweet Ending
- The Call Knows Where You Live
- Crucified Hero Shot: An Artistic License, but justified, given the historical setting. Captured rebel slaves being crucified is Truth in Television.
- Deadpan Snarker: Gracchus.
- Depraved Bisexual: Crassus
Crassus: Do you eat oysters?
Antoninus: When I have them, master.
Crassus: Do you eat snails?
Antoninus: No, master.
Crassus: Do you consider the eating of oysters to be moral, and the eating of snails to be immoral?
Antoninus: No, master.
Crassus: Of course not. It is all a matter of taste, isn't it?
Antoninus: Yes, master.
Crassus: And taste is not the same as appetite, and therefore not a question of morals, hmm?
Antoninus: It could be argued so, master.
Crassus: My robe, Antoninus. My taste includes both snails and oysters.
- Doomed Moral Victor: Spartacus.
- Double Entendre: Crassus' infamous "Oysters and Snails" speech, above.
- The Empire: Averted. The whole story takes place under the Roman Republic.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Crassus is infuriated by his inability to understand how Spartacus commands such loyalty and love in his followers, when his own power just brings him more distrust and unpopularity.
Crassus: [mocking] What was he? Was he a god?
Varinia: He wasn't a god. He was a simple man. A slave... I loved him.
Crassus: He was an outlaw! A murderer! An enemy to everything fine and decent that Rome ever built! Damn you! You tell me — Why did you love him?
Varinia: I can't tell you. I can't tell you things you can never understand.
Crassus: But I want to understand. Don't you see? I must understand!
- A Father to His Men
- Finish Him!: The order is given after Spartacus loses his duel with his Black Best Friend when they are forced to fight each other.
- Foregone Conclusion: Especially for the original audience.
- Gladiator Games
- Hard Work Montage: The training sequences at the gladiator school.
- I Am Spartacus: Trope Namer.
- I Just Want To Be Free: The major motivation of Sparticus and his army. They send this as their only demand to Rome after their first victory.
- Inspired By
- Involuntary Battle to the Death: Spartacus and his Black Best Friend, as detailed above. A second one happens at the end of the film between Spartacus and The Lancer to see which of them will receive a swift death at his friend's hands and which will survive to be crucified.
- Karma Houdini: Crassus.
- La Résistance: The army of ex-slaves that Spartacus leads.
- Manly Tears: Spartacus, during the famous "I Am Spartacus!" scene.
- Mind Rape: To Spartacus, more than once.
- Mononymous Biopic Title
- More Hero Than Thou
- No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: When Varinia asks her current master why he doesn't just have his way with her, he tells her he wants her to give herself to him.
- Non-Action Guy: Antoninus, a slave with no combat ability or labor skills, he is instead "a singer of songs" and had worked mainly as a caretaker and tutor for his master's children. At first, the gladiator-soldiers mock him, but when Spartacus asks for one of his songs, they are all moved by the beauty and emotion it invokes, reminding them why it is worth fighting to be free.
- The Queen's Latin
- Rated M for Manly
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Gracchus, with his plebeian sensibilities, is somewhat sympathetic towards the rebels, if only with the ultimate goal of upstaging Crassus.
- Reality Subtext: The credited screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, was blacklisted from Hollywood for refusing to name names during the Red Scare.
- Not just the screenwriter. The writer of the original novel was also on the blacklist.
- Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: In a sense it could be a rather extreme version
- Scary Black Man: Draba, for the Roman nobles after the arena fight.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: How the visiting nobles get a fight to death arranged at the gladiator training camp. It's explicitly against their policy (because it would be terrible for morale). Backfires spectacularly when the gladiators start rioting in outrage after the fight, kicking off the slave revolt that makes up the main plot.
- Smug Snake: Crassus.
- Spiritual Successor: Gladiator is pretty much an homage to Spartacus.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The real Spartacus and his rebellion wasn't nearly this idealistic.
- The biggest difference being that Spartacus, instead of being a slave from birth sold into gladiator school, in reality was an ex Roman soldier (more precisely, an auxiliary, which was a non-citizen soldier) who was sold to a gladiator school after deserting the army.
- Also Crassus, though as ruthless as most Roman higher-ups, was neither this psychotic nor was he in charge of Rome at this point. He didn't even become consul (a bit like prime minister, but more like chairman of the board) until after the war. Oh, and Spartacus' men were not crucified because they refused to hand him in, the Romans always planned to kill them all as a very clear example.
- The movie prior to the I Am Spartacus speech is loosely based on true story and the moment that word is uttered (in the movie only, not in actual history books)... Spartacus died in the battle. Yeah, Anything after the speech never happened.
- The entire character of Gracchus is made up. There were two brothers named Gracchus who were important figures in Roman history, but they were tribunes, not senators, and died more than 50 years before the Spartacus revolt.
- Wag the Director: Kirk Douglas, as producer of the film, fired the original director, and brought in relative newcomer Stanley Kubrick. Guess who wore the pants on set?
- Young Future Famous People: A twenty-year-old Julius Caesar has two very brief scenes in which he does almost nothing. In Real Life Caesar was an officer in the legions at this time though it is unknown if he directly participated in the Great Slave War (As the Romans called Spartacus' rebellion).