AFI Movie Club: SPARTACUS – American Film Institute
Spartacus Film Still - Kirk Douglas and Woody Strode



AFI Life Achievement Award recipient Kirk Douglas helped lead SPARTACUS to recognition on several of AFI’s lists of the greatest films of all time – including a ranking at #5 of the greatest epics in cinematic history.

Watch Michael and Cameron Douglas announce the film:

Movie Trivia about SPARTACUS

-DID YOU KNOW that screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was forced to work in secret on SPARTACUS? He had been blacklisted at the time for refusing to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities – and often used producer Edward Lewis as a front or wrote under the pen name “Sam Jackson.” When the final writing credit needed to be decided, executive producer and star Kirk Douglas insisted Trumbo receive onscreen credit.

-DID YOU KNOW Laurence Olivier was at one time attached to direct SPARTACUS? He relinquished the role, because he felt the dual role of actor/director would be too demanding.

-DID YOU KNOW five thousand uniforms and seven tons of armor were borrowed from Italian museums and costume houses for production?

-DID YOU KNOW the battle scenes were filmed outside of Madrid, Spain, and over 8,000 trained Spanish soldiers were used to double as the Roman army in SPARTACUS?

-DID YOU KNOW to create the sound of large crowds, Stanley Kubrick’s crew recorded spectators at a Michigan State – Notre Dame college football game? Kubrick had them shout, “Hail, Crassus!” and “I’m Spartacus!”

-DID YOU KNOW at the time, the $12 million cost of SPARTACUS was higher than what the studio was worth? MCA bought Universal for just over $11 million while the filming of SPARTACUS was in progress!

-DID YOU KNOW that in 1991, SPARTACUS was restored, adding back in several violent battle sequences and a scene that was considered obscene where Laurence Olivier was attempting to seduce Tony Curtis in a bathhouse? The bathhouse scene did not have a viable soundtrack, so at age 66, Curtis redubbed his lines and Anthony Hopkins was brought in to redub Olivier’s dialogue since he had passed away two years prior.

-DID YOU KNOW AFI helped sponsor the restoration of SPARTACUS with Universal Pictures? Become an AFI member today and play your part in preserving the history of film, as well as supporting the future of the art of the moving image.

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-After 60 years, why does the film still resonate with fans today?

-What was the significance of Dalton Trumbo’s screenwriter credit?

-How does the Roman Senate in the film compare to today’s political landscape?

-Why does each slave proclaim “I’m Spartacus”?

-What is it that makes Crassus so afraid of Spartacus?

-Why does Spartacus kill Antoninus?

-What significance does seeing his wife and child one last time have for Spartacus?

-How would you rate SPARTACUS?


Watch Steven Spielberg talk about Stanley Kubrick and SPARTACUS in this exclusive AFI Archive video:

New to AFI Movie Club? Want to learn more?

In this time when we are reminded “There’s no place like home,” AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

Learn more in our FAQ section.


How to Watch SPARTACUS Now: View options


Comments (1)

Livia Pascucci

Hello i am a costume designer and would love to access your film library. How is that possible? Thnk you

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