“Spartacus” – the Three-Headed Triumph of Douglas, Trumbo, and Kubrick

The third essay in a year-long analysis of the films of Stanley Kubrick.  Check out the schedule and explanation here, where you can also find links to all the completed pieces.

Introduction

Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, starring Kirk Douglas and written by Dalton Trumbo, may be the best Swords-and-Sandals story ever put to film.  The film is a powerhouse but is easily the least “Kubrickian” film in all of the great director’s filmography.  This is mostly due to Kubrick sharing control with Douglas, who produced the film and had final cut, and the writer Dalton Trumbo.  In this piece, I’ll detail the circumstances surrounding this intense collaboration, starting with the political climate and background of the film.  I’ll continue on with the story and characters developed by Trumbo and Douglas and finish with Kubrick’s stylistic contributions to the film.  Though all three creators approached the film with their own intentions and goals, they were still able to produce an irrefutable classic.

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A Foundation of Duality: How “Warcraft” Establishes a Unique and Thematic Fantasy World

The challenge facing director Duncan Jones with Warcraft:  make a high fantasy video-game flick relying heavily on CGI for one of the races.  What could go wrong?  Fortunately, much less than you would think.  Most of the issues with the film involve specific plot elements, and few of the characters are under-developed (especially the human ones).  But, the visuals are astounding, the world-building is impressive, and the lore introduced in this film should provide ample foundation for more nuanced exploration of the world in the future.  Warcraft has its faults, but its unique structure explores themes of racial tension, corruption, and legacy in ways that few other fantasy films can accomplish.

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“The Revenant” is both Style and Substance, and Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Otherwise

The Revenant is a gorgeous slog. From the opening panorama to the final close-up, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s frontier survivalist epic confronts the viewer with this discord. This tension colors the film completely, elbowing out more nuanced analyses of character arcs or thematic material upon first glance. But to claim, as some critics have, that The Revenant is a pretty film devoid of meaning is an absurdity. The harrowing cinematic experience certainly offers visual splendor up front and is heavily fettered in a masochistic cloak, but underneath it all, the insights into the human condition are many and varied. Besides marveling at the strength of the human spirit or the futility of revenge, themes of spiritual rebirth, everlasting love, betrayal, racism, and even the importance of friendship and connection with another human being in this vast, cold world.

Continue reading ““The Revenant” is both Style and Substance, and Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Otherwise”

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