Spartacus 1960 - Defining freedom and evoking compassion - Essay Example

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The writer of the essay "Spartacus 1960 - Defining freedom and evoking compassion" analyzes the movie Spartacus (1960), directed by Stanley Kubrick. The movie reveals the humanity that exists within, even when efforts have been made to strip all humanity…
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Spartacus 1960 - Defining freedom and evoking compassion
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Spartacus (1960 Defining freedom and evoking compassion The movie Spartacus (1960), directed by Stanley Kubrick , is taken from a novel about the events surrounding the slave revolt of the first century B.C.E. in which a Thracian slave by the name of Spartacus, one of three leaders, led slaves in an uprising that spanned much of the Roman Empire.1 He had no government backing and no real plan at the beginning of the rebellion, but still managed to forge an army of 90,000 men together to become a real threat to the Roman armies.2 The film portrayal, from the fictionalized version written by Howard Fast, reveals the humanity that exists within, even when efforts have been made to strip all humanity. One of the most powerful contrasts in the movie is between the beginning when Spartacus, played by Kirk Douglas, is going through the paces in becoming a gladiator, to after he meets Varinia, played by Gene Simmons, through which he begins to feel emotions, leading him to feel rebellion against his oppressed position. When she is given to him as a sexual gift as a reward, he strikes back at those who think they would watch this sexual encounter, insisting that he is not an animal.3 The movie provides a discourse about the contrast of what a man will do and who he will be when forced to live under oppression in comparison to what he will do and be when he finds freedom. A gut wrenching storyline within the movie revolves around Tony Curtis, playing Antoninus, who is a beautiful young man who is put in a position to have his sexuality compromised by powerful Roman citizen, Marcus Licinius Crassus, played by Laurence Olivier. The central scene that creates the insinuation was cut from the original film, but was later restored on DVD, giving a powerful new dimension to the character Antoninus that Curtis portrayed.4 Antoninus can now be viewed as a symbol for those who are sexually enslaved, who cannot say no for one reason or another, and are and have been victimized throughout history. His vulnerability can be seen to represent those whose bodies are used without consent, including slaves, children, and women who have been oppressed as the possessions of men through history. As a viewer, one is driven towards a protective emotional state when Curtis is threatened by sexual victimization. Spartacus was a powerful gladiator, however it was not his physical strength that made him a formidable leader, but his cunning in using what could be found along their travels in order to combat the Roman forces. The story of Spartacus informs the viewer of the possibilities of the human spirit, while revealing the darkness that can come from having power over another person. Spartacus (1960) evokes powerful feelings of the nature of humanity and the power of freedom. Watching Spartacus (1960) is like experiencing a bittersweet triumph, the heart breaking as he dies, but the spirit soaring on the wings of his accomplishment in freeing the hearts of so many. References Shaw, Brent D. Spartacus and the Slave Wars: a brief history with documents. Boston [u.a.]: Bedford [u.a.], 2001. Spartacus. DVD. Directed by Stanley Kubrick. 1960. Los Angeles: Universal Studios Home Video, 1998. Winkler, Martin M. Spartacus: film and history. Malden, MA, USA: Blackwell Pub, 2006. Read More
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