It has been many years since I saw you last, and though vivid memories of our time together have long faded I still recall a general feeling of reverence as we strike up our long neglected acquaintanceship. Perhaps I should mention that the fresh restoration, which delivered your celluloid experience to current and pristine Blu-ray condition, is the catalyst for our meeting. The loving care dedicated to that end is quite apparent from the start.
As we follow Spartacus to the gladiator training that will be the foundation of his might, I am instantly impressed with the young Kirk Douglas and his steely visage! It’s almost like seeing his inner fortitude for the first time without the smeared old TV rerun clouding the eye like some video cataract! Kirk Douglas is even more masterful than I remember, and seeing it with such clarity is a revelation on par with a good 3D experience. HiDef is ‘THAT’ worth it in this case. The depth of the blue in his eyes and the smooth beauty of the exquisite Jean Simmons is all icing on the cake!
The other purity of this masterpiece is its direction and cinematography! As the slaves revolt and flee the Roman countryside, their exodus is as vast and as epic as any DeMille production. Here, too, is another revelation about the grand movie. Its scale! When you can clearly see the forest of people marching through valleys and across hills, it is driven home even more by the HiDef clarity. As the story unfolds and the love between Spartacus and Varinia grows, the progression of the plot seems very normal and true. This thought leads to a realization that everything in this film feels very organic. Its an ebb and flow ambiance that all the great epics had, that CGI can’t quite grasp, and provides an imperfect action that rings more realistic than some of the later tech-generated large set pieces. Anyone who has seen The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur, Ran or a Sergio Leone Western know what I am alluding to!
As the Romans wrestle with the fleeing slaves and infighting that would be the beginning of the end for Rome, the love affair continues and the betrayal begins to thwart the escape of Spartacus. As the Romans bring them to heel and the remaining slaves show they are greater than the best of Rome, anyone with any knowledge of the end of Rome is heartened in the face of such a sad outcome. They know that the cause and vision Spartacus fought for was really a seed his efforts planted that some later generation would reap, enjoying the reward he sought! His small condolence is to at least know his son and his love persevere, and you know in his heart that was good enough for him.
Ultimately, you are, Spartacus! Which means you are definitely one of the greatest films ever made. Our time together reminds me of the storytelling, filmmaking mindset of old and swells a pride in my heart for the greatness that is man and the greatness in those creative folks born to tell the tale. As many forget in this later day and age, it’s always been about the love!
With humble reverence,