Episode 18 – Spartacus 1960

In this episode we take a walk into Dr Radford’s specialisation – history on film! And where better to start than with Spartacus, the 1960 epic directed (eventually) by Stanley Kubrick and starring the one, the only, Kirk Douglas.

A Complex Film for a Complex Man

This film has a number of complications to explore:

  • There’s the 1951 novel by Howard Fast that inspired the screenplay
  • There’s the screenplay itself, where major credit is given to Dalton Trumbo
  • And there’s the complications that arise from the challenges of finding a director who could stick with the project

This is all before we even cut to the chase on the primary source material!

So what relationship does the film bear to the historical sources? And who exactly was Spartacus?

Find out in this foray into the translation of ancient history into popular entertainment!

Spartacus 1960

Stanley Kubrick Kirk Douglas
Original studio production still of Stanley Kubrick directing Kirk Douglas in film Spartacus (1960). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Unfortunately there are very few images available in the public domain of the film making the photo above the best we can offer you!

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Drs R and G laugh and spar their way through the ancient Roman world!


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