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Spartacus Blu-ray

United States
Universal Studios | 1960 | 197 min | Rated PG-13 | May 25, 2010

Spartacus (Blu-ray)
Large:


Video
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.22:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Audio
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
French: DTS-HD 5.1

Subtitles
English SDH, French, Spanish

Discs
50GB Blu-ray Disc
Single disc (1 BD)

Playback
Region free

Price
List price: $19.98, Price history

Amazon: $14.16 (Save 29%)
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Movie rating
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
7.9
277
ratings.


Blu-ray rating
Video 2.7 of 52.7
Audio 3.7 of 53.7
Extras 2.6 of 52.6
Based on 14 user reviews

Movie appeal

 
Drama100%
War31%
Period27%
Epic25%
History23%
Romance20%
Biography13%
Adventure-
78%
popularity
1362
collections
70
fans




Spartacus

 (1960)

Spartacus Blu-ray offers decent video and great audio in this overall recommended Blu-ray release

Filmed in Technirama, this epic story chronicles one of histories greatest underdogs — Spartacus! He and other slaves are sold to an owner of a school for gladiators. Spartacus excels and is rewarded with a slave women, Varinia, for his pleasure in which he demurs. However they eventually fall for each other before a death match for a corrupt Roman senator, Marcus Crassus. After the brutal spectacle, Spartacus is enraged by the death of his friends and the loss of his love. He leads a revolt and bolts. Marching across the countryside to escape over the sea to their homelands, he is elated to find Varinia. Their quest becomes entwined with the political aspirations of Crassus and sets the fate of all three. Spartacus' saga survives the test of time and has been immortalized by this landmark film.

For more about Spartacus and the Spartacus Blu-ray release, see Spartacus Blu-ray Review published by on where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.

Starring: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, John Gavin
Director: Stanley Kubrick

» See full cast & crew


Spartacus Blu-ray, Video Quality

  3.0 of 5

Spartacus has had an interesting, if at times questionably spotty, release on various home video media. I defer to the man I consider to be the definitive source on what Spartacus "should" look like, the film's 1991 restorer Robert Harris, who told me that he considers the Criterion SD-DVD "color and density correct." So let's leave the previous Universal SD-DVD and certainly the troublesome HD-DVD aside and address how this new AVC encoded 1080p Blu-ray stacks up to the Criterion. I did a side by side test and came to a few conclusions. The film is undeniably cleaner in the Blu-ray presentation, with that digitally scrubbed look which argues to DNR. The good news is we're not at the extreme plastic levels of Patton (which is not saying much), but the bad news is those with humongous projection sets will be missing some detail, and even smaller sets will reveal the smooth, textureless façade of DNR that wipes away a lot of the filmic look of the feature. On a 46" LCD flatscreen, I found the DNR to be relatively minimal by modern (often hyperbolic) standards, perhaps a backhanded compliment. Despite the smoother texture, there are still occasional flecks and specks to be seen fleeting through the film, though evidently nothing at the level of the HD-DVD (at least according to the reviews I read--I never saw that version). This may be more than odd, in fact a misperception, as Harris avers that all recent releases come from the same interpositive source elements. The color timing on this Blu is a more interesting phenomenon, at least to my eyes. It is certainly much more densely saturated on the Blu than the Criterion, and it appears quite acceptable taken by itself. When compared to the Criterion however, I personally feel there's a clear, albeit slight, tilt toward the red-yellow side of the spectrum, perhaps the result of an anxious telecine operator's knob. There's nothing here that is going to make an average viewer avert their eyes in horror, but these are very subtle, interesting differences that will probably entice more as an intellectual exercise than any deciding factor in your enjoyment of this presentation. The third element is edge enhancement, which, while not as egregious as in some recent releases, is still quite evident. In fact, you'll see it in some of the screencaps included in this review. Pay attention, for example, to the ringing around the assembled multitudes on horseback. My gut feeling about all of this is if you haven't seen the Criterion SD-DVD, you're probably going to be OK with this Blu--it certainly doesn't devolve to the level of, say, Patton or, more recently, Out of Africa. Those with a history with this film may find this a more troublesome release, perhaps not as bad as the HD-DVD evidently was, but bringing its own nettlesome worries into the fray. The sad part is the Criterion release presented the film as close to Kubrick's original vision as we're ever likely to get. It could have been used as a reference for this Blu, but it certainly doesn't seem like it was.


Spartacus Blu-ray, Audio Quality

  4.0 of 5

Spartacus would seem on its face to be a prime candidate for a 5.1 repurposing, but I've found all of the 5.1 mixes on the previous SD-DVD releases a little lacking, and I'm afraid a lossless option here with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix doesn't really persuade me to change my mind. I can't quite decide if this is because of the original sound design of the film, its basically intimate nature, or, indeed, the 5.1 repurposing in and of itself. There are some source element issues to be contended with and unfortunately the lossless audio only highlights many of the differences in the post-looped dialogue. I was repeatedly struck by the vastly different sounds of Ustinov, sometimes within one bit of dialogue, which points to perhaps several post-production recording sessions for looping. Ustinov's nasal qualities also may help to point out the narrow, boxy sound of some the dialogue, but that same narrowness is certainly there throughout the film if you're attuned to it. The 5.1 works best to my ears with the antiphonal moments of North's score (which sound magnificent), as well as the large crowd scenes, where some of the compressed sounding highs and lows tend to melt into the overall mass of sound, and one can finally relax a bit into the immersion without overt "listening" for individual effects. For anyone who's already seen one of the SD-DVD releases of Spartacus, if you haven't had anything to complain about before, I doubt you will now. There is a decent enough dynamic range, with very good to excellent fidelity throughout the film. There's simply no getting around the original recording techniques of some of these stems, however, and unfortunately shoving them off to a side or rear channel only tends to make the problem more noticeable. Taken on its own, and divorced from my individual dislike of this particular 5.1 remix, my hunch is the bulk of listeners will be pleased with the results here.


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Spartacus Blu-ray, News and Updates



Spartacus - 50th Anniversary Blu-ray on May 25th - February 23, 2010

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced that, on May 25th, it will release Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus (1960). In 1961, the film won four Academy Awards, including Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Peter Ustinov) and Best Cinematography (Russell Metty). ...


Spartacus Blu-ray, Forum Discussions



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