He put the spar in Spartacus/ Spartacus’s Cause
Ok, so I watched Spartacus because Alan Bates was in it. I’ve been a fan of Alan Bates for decades, and wanted to watch his last performance, which he filmed while undergoing chemotherapy.
Bates was his usual brilliant self, even when the part was small and his character made a number of p.c. comments any self-respecting Roman consul would probably never utter even if he were around today. Bates had a way of saying a line while digging-in-and-turning-the-knife that few actors have been able to do, and he was in fine shape.
I did stay to watch the whole miniseries because I saw the original Kubric movie starring Kirk Douglas, and in my eyes Goran Visnjic’s Spartacus beats Kirk’s. Goran’s DDG (drop-dead-gorgeous), and as a gladiator he looked credible in the top-fighters category, agile, big (not steroid-big, just muscular and tall), with 6-pack abs, and would have creamed Kirk’s and probably Russell’s gladiators, too (Russell’s not all that big in person). Goran put the spar in Spartacus.
Sandal-and-toga epics have been on screen since the days of silent movies. Each generation places its message in its version. The director of the TV Spartacus said “There are interesting parallels about power and evildoers” , and the executive producer “defends the remake for exploring the same political themes, such as personal freedom and segregation, that were pertinent more than 40 years ago [my italics]. “I think it’s more relevant today to look at the fact that we haven’t maybe progressed as far as we think we have,” she says”. While they were at it, they injected the dialog with ridiculous allusions to US politics: Crassus refers to Spartacus’ slave army as “terrorists”, talks about a “New World Order” and even uses the phrase “you’re either with us or against us”. They took the idiotic route to the sandal-and-toga. In looking at what they consider pertinent “more than 40 years ago”, they missed the point of a struggle that started more than 2000 years ago: slavery.
Sadly, by doing so both the director and the exec producer “missed an opportunity to speak up” (to misquote Jacques Chirac). A brief note at the end of the lengthy program, reminding the audience that slavery still exists, would have given their message meaning. And it would have honored the real-life Spartacus.