Welcome back to Motion History, my dear readers and commenters. I decided to celebrate making it a full four weeks by mimicking the very first installment, and select a film that's enjoying a re-release: Spartacus. Yes, it's a story that's awfully similar to last week's pick of Gladiator, but why should my columns be exempt from the mania of sequels and remakes?
Plus, I really like gladiators. So do you. Just about every civilization that came after ancient Rome has been obsessed with them. It's a practice that's both barbaric and alluring. We recoil at the idea of men fighting to the death for entertainment; yet we know, deep down, the urge that fueled the practice. You feel it every time you watch a football game, a boxing match, or a hockey brawl. Arguably, we get our real gladiatorial kicks through the movies and video games. We cheer good kills and an artful use of gore. It's not real, so it's ok. (Lest you think I'm getting preachy, you should know I giggle maniacally every time I execute a pixel person particularly well.)
But then there is Spartacus. He seems to balance out our macabre fascination with the Colosseum, and has inspired an awed hero worship that has spanned thousands of years. He's a historical legend and a pop culture catchphrase. But while previous generations poured over Plutarch and Florus for hints of him, we just go to Stanley Kubrick's film. Spartacus has overtaken the source material to the extent that many are shocked to find out Spartacus didn't meet the fate Kubrick ghoulishly depicted for him.
Let's find out what really happened, shall we?