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Spartacus battle scene

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Uploaded on Jul 19, 2010

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Spartacus is a 1960 American epic historical drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on the novel of the same name by Howard Fast. The life story of the historical figure Spartacus and the events of the Third Servile War were adapted by Dalton Trumbo as a screenplay.

The film stars Kirk Douglas as rebellious slave Spartacus and Laurence Olivier as his foe, the Roman general and politician Marcus Licinius Crassus. Co-starring are Peter Ustinov (who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as slave trader Lentulus Batiatus), John Gavin (as Julius Caesar), Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, John Ireland, Herbert Lom, Woody Strode, Tony Curtis, John Dall and Charles McGraw. The film won four Oscars in all.

Historically it did not happen this way but it does give an impression of how battles may have been fought in Roman times. Nonetheless the director gives a very exciting introduction to the battle with the hint of despair and impending defeat for the slave army. The wonderful music track together with the scenic background adds to the effect.

The development of Spartacus was partly instigated by Kirk Douglas's failure to win the title role in William Wyler's Ben-Hur. Douglas had worked with Wyler before on Detective Story, and was disappointed when Wyler chose Charlton Heston instead. Shortly after, Edward (Eddie) Lewis, a vice-president in Douglas's production company, Bryna (named after Douglas's mother), had Douglas read Howard Fast's novel, Spartacus, which had a related theme - an individual who challenges the might of the Roman Empire - and Douglas was impressed enough to purchase an option on the book from Fast with his own financing. Universal Studios eventually agreed to finance the film after Douglas persuaded Olivier, Laughton and Ustinov to act in it. Lewis eventually became a co-producer of the film.

Spartacus was filmed using the 35 mm Technirama format and then blown up to 70 mm film. This was a change for Kubrick, who preferred using square-format ratios. Kubrick found working outdoors or in real locations to be distracting and thus preferred to film in the studio. He believed the actors would benefit more from working on a sound stage, where they could fully concentrate. To create the illusion of the large crowds that play such an essential role in the film, Kubrick's crew used three-channel sound equipment to record 76,000 spectators at a Michigan State -- Notre Dame college football game shouting "Hail, Crassus!" and "I'm Spartacus!"

The intimate scenes were filmed in Hollywood, but Kubrick insisted that all battle scenes be filmed on a vast plain outside Madrid. Eight thousand trained soldiers from the Spanish infantry were used to double as the Roman army. Kubrick directed the armies from the top of specially constructed towers. However, he eventually had to cut all but one of the gory battle scenes, due to negative audience reactions at preview screenings.

The original score for Spartacus was composed and conducted by six-time Academy Award nominee Alex North. It is his best work in my opinion and a textbook example of how modernist compositional styles can be adapted to the Hollywood leitmotif technique. North's score is epic, as befits the scale of the film. After extensive research of music of that period, North gathered a collection of antique instruments that, while not authentically Roman, provided a strong dramatic effect. These instruments included a sarrusophone, Israeli recorder, Chinese oboe, lute, mandolin, Yugoslav flute, kythara, dulcimer, and bagpipes. North's prize instrument was the ondioline, similar to an earlier version of the electronic synthesizer, which had never been used in film before. Much of the music is written without a tonal center, or flirts with tonality in ways that most film composers would not risk. One theme is used to represent both slavery and freedom, but is given different values in different scenes, so that it sounds like different themes. The love theme for Spartacus and Varinia is the most accessible theme in the film, and there is a harsh trumpet figure for Crassus.

A soundtrack was released in 2010 apparently, I have not seen it anyway and would be interested in getting ahold of a copy.

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