Spartacus Background

Spartacus Background

Stanley Kubrick is a master of both satire and science fiction, but also achieved renown with the 1960 historical epic Spartacus. The film has positive reviews and grossed $60 million (the most of any Universal Studios film until Airport grossed $100.5 million in 1970).

Spartacus tells the story of the rebellious slave Thracian Spartacus who is sold to a Gladiator trainer who prepares Spartacus to engage in ferocious to-the-death combat in an arena. However, with the help of fellow captured slaves Spartacus leads a rebellion against his cruel slavers, leading them away from the brutal world of gladitors to the better, more calm world of Italy.

Originally, the script was set to be written by Howard Fast. However, Fast dropped out due to concerns with his work. Blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo was then hired to replace him. Trumbo wrote the screenplay, but since he couldn't take credit for it because of the aforementioned Blacklist, a debate was had over who would take credit. Ultimately, the star of the film, Kirk Douglas, who played the eponoymous Spartacus was able to get Trumbo full credit for his work, effectively ending the Blacklist and allowing Trumbo to have a career in Hollywood without hiding again.

Initially, the film garnered mixed reviews, with critic Bosley Crowther sayinng that it [is] a "spotty, uneven drama." Many also spoke negatively of film, citing Communist Trumbo's involvement. Now, however, the film is looked on in a much more positive light, currently holding a 96% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

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