Big Screen: Spartacus

  • Saturday, March 11, 2023 / 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM (PST)
  • Pollock Theater
  • Screening Format: 4K DCP (197 Minutes)
  • Director: Stanley Kubrick
    Starring: Kirk Douglas, Lawrence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Peter Ustinov

Released at the height of Hollywood’s love affair with the grand sword-and-sandal epic, Spartacus (1960) follows the quasi-mythic figure of Spartacus (Kirk Douglas), a Thracian laborer born into Roman slavery. After escaping bondage while being trained for gladiatorial combat, Spartacus raises an army of the enslaved that stages a number of dramatic revolts against the Roman Empire. Realized in spectacular Technirama widescreen by a young Stanley Kubrick (working from a script by blacklisted screenwriter and author Dalton Trumbo), Spartacus bristles with star power, featuring scenery-chewing performances from the likes of Sir Lawrence Olivier as Crassus, Tony Curtis as Antoninus, Jean Simmons as Varinia, and Peter Ustinov as Batiatus. A spectacular example both of Hollywood’s mid-century race against the growing popularity of television and the post-war vogue for all things Greco-Roman, Spartacus messily intervened in its Cold War context, opening up complicated questions about empire, enslavement, and the nature of freedom.

This event will feature a 4K digital transfer of the 1991 restoration of Spartacus. This screening will be accompanied by a critical and historical introduction by Carsey-Wolf Center Assistant Director Tyler Morgenstern. There will be no post-screening discussion.

This event is free but a reservation is recommended in order to guarantee a seat.


Headshot of Tyler Morgenstern. The black and white image depicts a man wearing a scarf and floral button-up long sleeve shirt. He is smiling and posed in front of a nature background which features a pond, large trees and mountains.

Tyler Morgenstern (Carsey-Wolf Center, UCSB)

Tyler Morgenstern is Assistant Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center and an alumnus of the UCSB Film and Media Studies PhD program. As a scholar, his research and teaching interests primarily concerned the media and technological cultures of empire and settler colonialism. He completed his dissertation, Colonial Recursion and Decolonial Maneuver in the Cybernetic Diaspora in 2021, and has published in journals including International Journal of Communication, Media+Environment, and Synoptique. With Krista Lynes and Ian Alan Paul, he is also co-editor of Moving Images: Mediating Migration as Crisis (Transcript Verlag, 2020).

 This event is sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center.

CWC Presents: Big Screen

The movie theater has always been a space of wonder and anxiety. Since the inception of the cinema, audiences have enjoyed the collective experience of viewing a film on the big screen, but fears of contagion and disease have undercut that pleasure since the cinema’s earliest years. In our current moment, closures of international festivals and competition with streaming platforms have significantly altered the film industry. The Carsey-Wolf Center’s “Big Screen” series at the Pollock Theater will explore this tension as we welcome cinemagoers back to the theater. The series will spotlight films made to be seen on the big screen, including works that are almost never seen in North America (Satyajit Ray), as well as classical Hollywood films (featuring Bette Davis) and early slapstick comedy (Buster Keaton and more). This series will recall those early cinemagoers who first marveled at early moving pictures or new technologies like Cinerama and CinemaScope, and invite conversations with scholars and filmmakers about their varied, personal, and unexpected experiences with the big screen.