Released at the height of Hollywood’s love affair with the grand sword-and-sandal epic, Spartacus (1960) follows the quasi-mythic figure of Spartacus (Kirk Douglas), a Thracian laborer born into Roman slavery. After escaping bondage while being trained for gladiatorial combat, Spartacus raises an army of the enslaved that stages a number of dramatic revolts against the Roman Empire. Realized in spectacular Technirama widescreen by a young Stanley Kubrick (working from a script by blacklisted screenwriter and author Dalton Trumbo), Spartacus bristles with star power, featuring scenery-chewing performances from the likes of Sir Lawrence Olivier as Crassus, Tony Curtis as Antoninus, Jean Simmons as Varinia, and Peter Ustinov as Batiatus. A spectacular example both of Hollywood’s mid-century race against the growing popularity of television and the post-war vogue for all things Greco-Roman, Spartacus messily intervened in its Cold War context, opening up complicated questions about empire, enslavement, and the nature of freedom.

This event will feature a 4K digital transfer of the 1991 restoration of Spartacus. This screening will be accompanied by a critical and historical introduction by Carsey-Wolf Center Assistant Director Tyler Morgenstern. There will be no post-screening discussion.

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