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Spartacus

Saturday, December 11, 2021, 7:30 p.m., Dryden Theatre

(Stanley Kubrick, US 1960, 197 min., 35mm)

In 1957, independent producer Eddie Lewis brought the novel Spartacus—self-published by Howard Fast and created as an allegory for the Red Scare—to the attention of Kirk Douglas and his Bryna Productions company. Fast was given the opportunity to adapt his novel for the film. Dissatisfied with Fast’s version, Douglas brought on Dalton Trumbo to rewrite it, with the possibility of receiving film credit under his own name, effectively ending his blacklisting. Douglas himself portrays Spartacus, born to slavery and trained to fight in the gladiator arena. Enraged at not being able to pursue his freedom, Spartacus leads a slave revolt that sweeps across the Roman Empire. In its most memorable scene, the film shows the defeated slave army stoically refusing to identify Spartacus to the authorities, instead choosing death by proclaiming, one by one, “I am Spartacus.” Trumbo did get his screen credit, prompted by fired director Anthony Mann, who willingly spilled the beans on who was actually behind the script.

 

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