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File:RomeSpartacus 994.jpg

 I am Spartacus!

No, I'm Spartacus!


For the Starz series see: Spartacus: Blood and Sand

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 was.

Spartacus is a slave from the last days 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. In his defense, he had spent some 10 years keeping the wolf from the door in various demeaning ways after being blacklisted in Hollywood and probably didn't want to share credit for his first big screenwriting assignment after all that time.)

Tropes used:


 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.
  • A Father to His Men
  • Finish Him!: The order is given when Spartacus and his Black Best Friend 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.
  • 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 one of them doesn't get 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
  • 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.
  • Scary Black Man: Draba, for the Roman nobles after the arena fight.
  • 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?

I'm Spartacus, and so's my wife!