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Spartacus: Blood and Sand is a movie inspired by countless other shows and movies and yet still by it's conclusion you'll be wanting to find out what happens next.
From the get go you're thrown into a blood curdling, sexually driven TV show that's slow motion, cut throat action look as though they've just come from the movie 300. No matter how many times you see these same effects you can't help but stop and stare in amazement as every blood splatter and decapitated head just looks amazing and before long you find yourself totally and completely immersed in the show.
You start the show following Spartacus (no it's not Kirk Douglas) who is a relatively small time Thiracian soldier. After fighting for the Roman Cladius Gaber (played by Craig Parker, the head battle elf in the Two Towers) he finds he and his comrades are betrayed and quickly finds himself sold as a slave along with his beautiful wife. He is then thrown into the arena and much like Decimus Maximus Meridius, must fight for his freedom and fight to find his wife. His first encounter in the arena, naturally, is a bloody encounter where by he survives by the skin of his teeth.
His victory is short lived as he is bought by what can only be deemed a professional Gladiator pimp, Batiatus. Spartacus finds himself a new member of the Batiatus gladiator school with Batiatus hoping to make a mint from him in the arena when he is deemed ready. Within a few episodes Spartacus finds himself near the top of the Batiatus gladiator hierarchy with only his arch-enemy Crixus standing before-him.
The series itself isn't anything short of graphic in every sense of the word. Each slit throat, thrust to the chest and broken arm are presented to you in very vivid detail and it can at times seem a little unnerving for those with weaker bellies. The sex is also very graphic bordering on hardcore pornography at times.
Blood and Sands main hook I found though was indeed the story, the balance Batiatus strikes between letting Spartacus trust him (abusing it at times) and using him as a pawn only to increase his power. You see Spartacus rising the ranks, but at times the mistakes he makes puts a few notches down the pecking order and once again it becomes enthralling as you want nothing more than to see Spartacus re-united with his love.
The additional plots do not stop there with deceit running rampant through the Batiatus house whether it be Lucretia, Batitatus's wife having an affair with a gladiator or Illythia's vendetta to destroy Spartacus everything comes together perfectly and makes for an un-missable TV show.
Acting wise John Hannah as Batiatus and Andy Whitfield as Spartacus are simply miles ahead of everyone else in the show. Bar them two the acting is bordering on above average, at times falling below it. Hannah and Whitfield on the other hand make this show so much more enjoyable to watch. The final episode plays the two of them off against each other perfectly making for an amazing end to the series.
Granted this kind of show is not for everyone, 300 lovers will immediately fall in love with it's slow motion CGI. If you're looking for perfect acting then look away as for the most part the cast is by no means anything special. Despite this once you truly get into the show it's gripping from start to finish, by the final four or five episodes you will find yourself going through them all one after the other as the suspense is simply unbearable. It's sad to hear of Whitfields ill health but once he's back I can safely say that Spartacus Blood and Sands 2 will be the next DVD on my wishlist.
Spartacus: Blood and Sand is no children's programme. There are blood, guts and breasts in every episode and although normally this would only appeal to a certain strange kind of character the programme is actually really good. I will admit that I am a sucker for fictitious history dramas and Spartacus: Blood and Sand certainly did not disappoint.
From the outset Spartacus is pushed into your hero corner and you immediately take an instant dislike to anyone who crosses him. Spartacus is not of an overly big build which I personally believe makes him a more believable character and it is good that he isn't portrayed as the best gladiator right from the beginning. It's better when you get to watch a character develop as it makes the programme more believable.
Spartacus: Blood and Sand is a blood and sex fuelled romp, full of swearing for good measure, but as most history books will tell you, that is what Rome was like during that era.
I would like to write more about the programme, but do not wish to spoil or give away anything. It Is definitely better to see for yourself.
I hope this review helped.
"Spartacus: Blood and Sand" is a historical fiction drama about the famous Spartacus and how he became Rome's best-known gladiator during the 1st century BC, the time of the Roman Republic (i.e. before Julius Caesar and the Emperor Augustus). The story begins with some background info about the hero and focuses on his gladiatorial years. Remember, however, that this is a fictional drama, so the script writers took some liberties with the historical information.
In the beginning of the series we meet a long-haired Spartacus, who is a Thracian villager, and we learn that he and his Thracian comrades must fight another expanding tribe in order to protect their families. Roman soldiers, under the leadership of legatus Claudius Glaber, promised to help them. Glaber betrayed them though, so Spartacus mutinies against him and he is captured and sentenced to die in the gladiator arena for his crime, while his beautiful wife Sura ends up being sold to a Syrian slave trader. Against all odds, the Thracian manages to kill all the gladiators appointed to kill him in the arena, so his life is spared and his sentence is changed to slavery. Impressed by his skills and determination, Lentulus Batiatus, the owner of a training school for gladiators (ludus) in a town away from Rome, purchases him and makes a deal with him: if he survives all the gladiatorial games and gains enough money, he will be able to buy his freedom, and Batiatus will also unite him with his wife. Although he hates the Romans and the arena, this is an offer Spartacus cannot deny, as he needs to regain his freedom and save his wife. The series focuses on the efforts of Spartacus to stay alive, see his wife again, gain the respect of the other gladiators of the school, avoid conflicts with them, and survive in a world of treachery, corruption, violence and fame. The passion for the woman he loves keeps him determined in this story about death, honour and revenge.
Andy Whitfield ... Spartacus
John Hannah ... Batiatus
Manu Bennett ... Crixus
Lucy Lawless ... Lucretia
Peter Mensah ... Doctore
Nick Tarabay ... Ashur
Viva Bianca ... Ilithyia
Lesley-Ann Brandt ... Naevia
Jai Courtney ... Varro
David Austin ... Medicus
Craig Walsh Wrightson ... Solonius
Erin Cummings ... Sura
Complete info on cast and crew: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1442449/fullcredits#cast
Despite the huge success, so far only series 1 is available, with 13 breathtaking episodes. This is because the handsome actor Andy Whitfield, who was an excellent Spartacus I must add, was suffering from Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Initially his therapy was going well, so the producers postponed the second series to allow him time for recovery. In the meantime, they decided to film a mini prequel series telling the story of the House of Batiatus and of the other gladiators before Spartacus' arrival. This prequel entitled "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" was set to première on the 21st january 2011 in America (I've watched it and it's great too). It is a tragedy that Andy's recovery was not as successful as it originally seemed and his cancer returned. His doctors advised him to stop any preparation for the second series and focus on harsh chemotherapy. So, thanking the producers who waited for him, Andy declared that he had to quit the project and focus on his treatment. *RIP - Unfortunately Andy Whitfield died from cancer on 11 September 2011, very young and leaving a family behind. What a tragic loss...*
The producers decided to cast another actor for the leading role in January 2011 with Whitfield's consent. So, Australian actor Liam McIntyre will play the title role in the second season of "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" titled "Spartacus: Vengeance" and to be aired in January 2012.
More information on the show can be found here: http://www.starz.com/originals/spartacus
The first season premièred in the UK on Bravo in May 2010. Sky is now taking on the show from the Bravo family, following the channel's closure. The 1st series is available on DVD and Blu-Ray for about £26.99 and £35.49 respectively (source: Amazon.co.uk).
I don't know where to start, as this series is a must-see. All the actors are very well-cast in their roles. Andy Whitfield is an excellent Spartacus with a passionate voice and fire in his eyes. John Hannah, although with a wee bit of Scottish accent, is very persuasive and dramatic as Batiatus, a provincial Roman who has inherited the gladiatorial school from his father but is not happy being rich but 'middle-class'. He wants to become a noble and get elected in high offices, and will allow nothing to stop him from fulfilling his dream. His wife, Lucretia, played greatly by Lucy Lawless, known for her role as Xena, completely supports him. Together they form an ambitious and lethal couple. However, there is no black and white in this series and although Batiatus and Lucretia are no angels, they are well-rounded human beings, with their sensitivities, passions and sins. Lucretia has a crash on Crixus, the champion of the gladiatorial house, and she summons him often to her chambers. Crixus loves this special attention by his mistress, until he falls in love with the house maid Naevia. This is the cause of intrigues, jealously and lies. Another interesting plot evolves around Ilithyia, a rich Senate's daughter and wife of Spartacus' enemy legatus Claudius Glaber. Ilithyia is everything Lucretia longs to be: young, beautiful, rich and above all of great social standing by birth. As for the gladiators of the house, each one of them has his own reasons for being there, his own personality and his own aims.
So, this is not a series just about Spartacus. It has many great devious sub-plots and all the characters get coverage and look like real human beings, not one-dimensional dolls as one would expect because of their - great - physique. Still, the show manages to combine brains with beauty and does not shy away from choosing the most beautiful actors, trained to have the perfect bodies and engaged in sex scenes of heterosexuality and homosexuality. But everything is done with so much taste that it didn't offend me as a viewer.
The cinematography is beautiful and artistic, using camera filters and slow-motion during action scenes, like in Matrix or 300. My only criticism are the sets which are very repetitive. Despite its glamour, this is a small production, not a big Hollywood one. The producers decided to offset this by choosing great actors, an interesting plot and good costumes. However, they did not have the funds to build a true arena and big sets. So, they use a lot of CGI for these shots, which becomes kind of repetitive and boring. The plot and the actors do make up for this though. I also found it quite amusing that the actors use formal phrases, trying to resemble the Latin speech. For example, they say "greetings" instead of hello, "apologies" instead of sorry, and use latin words for "master" and "mistress" (dominus - domina) or for "teacher" (doctore).
In terms of historical accuracy, as I said already, this is a fictional show. In general, the show erroneously depicts the Roman free women as having too many liberties and the Roman society as having a completely open attitude towards sex. In reality, although it was not adultery for a husband to have sex with a slave or a prostitute, and affairs between free men and slave women were not penalized, Roman society had always frowned upon the idea of a free woman having a sexual relationship with a slave. It is true that in a Roman household sex was plentiful due to the existence of the slaves, but the women had to be discreet, living with the risk of pregnancy and disgrace. Adultery with a free-born (e.g. the sex between married Ilithyia and young Numerius) was a crime, and in the Republic a husband was required to divorce his wife, if he caught her committing adultery, and he was allowed to even kill her. In addition, socially it was not acceptable to be seen to practice sex in excess. So, it would be unacceptable for spectators to have sex in public while watching the gladiatorial games, as depicted in the show. Under Roman law women went from the authority of their fathers to the authority of their husbands, but by the beginning of the First Century BC women began to achieve greater freedom in practice. In the early days of the Republic women were not even allowed to make suggestions. Later, they could do so, provided the advice was given in private and the husband did not make a big deal of it, so Ilithyia and Lucretia would not be so liberal in real Roman life. In addition, Batiatus is depicted having an ambition to become a magistrate or a senator. Historically this would have been impossible, as the owners of Gladiatorial schools (lanistae and ex-lanistae) were not permitted to serve either as magistrates or as senators because they were regarded as both a butcher (lanius) and a pimp (leno), offering the slaughtering of human beings for entertainment.
* Historical sources:
Obviously, this is a show for the over-18 only and not suitable for the timid. The rest of you should watch it and judge for yourselves. When I started watching the series, I simply could not stop and almost died from starvation (just kiddin'). If you are lonely, sad, depressed, just watch this and it will make you forget all the rest!
Spartacus is a television series shown on Bravo Television.
Heralded by some of the more reactionary tabloids as a breakdown of morality it is a story of a warrior who when double crossed in battle is enslaved by the Romans and forced to fight as a Gladiator (Named Spartacus by his new owner), for his survival.
Spartacus is a seasoned warrior and gradually as he learns his beloved wife is alive and his new owner will bring her to him, he fights for survival with the dream of being released to her, unfortunately as with many parts of this programme his dreams are hit at all times and he really becomes something entirely different, firstly a man fighting for his future, then a man fighting the rage inside himself and finally a gladiator roared on by a beloved crowd in the ampitheatre.
Andy Whitfield plays Spartacus superbly with the right elements of sensitivity, brutality and honour, he is a man who admits to wrongs in the past forced into a situation beyond his control, he is a man we want to succeed and a great deal of this is down to the strength of the acting which is often overlooked due to mention of sex and violence.
Other standout characters include Crixus, the warrior Gladiator whose nose is firmly put out of joint by Spartacus arrival, Doctore the Gladiators teacher a wise and yet brutal man, as well as John Hannah as the nasty Batiatus the owner of Spartacus and the other gladiators, he is excellent as a conniving, double crossing man looking to cover debts and make money with the occasional glimpse of soul, Lucy Lawless is also excellent as his wife Lucitia, a woman in love with Crixus, desperate for a child and a chance to improve her social standing.
The programme is an hour long and generally involves a warrior battle, some sex scenes, some necessary, some gratuitous, and a really good story. Stand out episodes for me include the party where Spartacus gets more than he bargained for when being asked to perform and exhibition fight with his friend, and the battle which makes Spartacus a legend.
I thoroughly enjoy this show, the violence and sex are parts of the era they portray, its not a show for under 18's and it doesn't do things for the sake of it, it was the era and the show accepts that, to look past the excellent stories and great acting. Ocasionally the sets do look stolen from the film 300 and some of the dialogue can be a bit cheesy, but it is fun, gripping, exciting and the story builds each week without being tedious or relying on special effects.
Overall, the hype machine made this sound like some ridiculous orgy of a show, really its a show set in an era of excess and bloodshed and represents that era very well indeed.
Spartacus blood and sand was something I stumbled across whilst flicking through the "deadwood" sky channels one tuesday evening..and I'm glad I did! What I saw was a no holds barred interpretation of roman times with some sizzling women and plenty of gladiators thrown in!
The intro is basic - the romans want the threcians to fight alongside them but spartacus wont have it - and the romans take away his wife and he is captured and taken in by batiatus..the storyline starts to develop and it moves along quite nicely and shows what life is like inside "the house of batiatus" in a rags to riches styly. Spartacus (or the "threcian" as he is more commonly known) begins as a mere slave, hoping to stay alive despite crossing paths with the ever fearsome crixus, the man to beat in the gladiator stakes. To ensure he works his way up from slave to gladiator he has to prove himself and take on others in the colosseum to prove his worth. This is where the blood comes into it - graphic they may be but the detail and the fight scenes are worth watching over and over again. You name it - they chop it off!
The same can also be said for the graphic sex scenes in this series, when these romans feel a bit frisky, it all hangs out! Even the crowds watching the fights are at it!!
The series is very similar to the film "300" which came out a few years back - definately something that caught my eye on this occasion and hoping that andy whitfield can overcome his medical issues and return for sparatcus 2.
I got to watch Spartacus Blood and Sand while I was living in the U.S. and safe to say it's a shocker! Never have I seen a programme where there's so much graphic violence and sex. This is definitely not for under eighteens and something you may want to consider watching by yourself if you're uncomfortable watching this type of programme with others.
Basically though, this show is about the rise of the Roman warrior Spartacus and how he went from a prisoner to a rebel. It's set in ancient Rome and has a Gladiator type feel to it as that's essentially what they're training to be.
I think the plot line is interesting and would work well in other mediums, such as a fantasy series maybe or video game but for TV something just feels off about it. Maybe it's because it's so explicit that it's a little hard to take at first.
There's a stellar cast though who all give great performances from Lucy Lawless to John Hannah. A number of the actors/actresses even go completely nude and show all their glory in front of the camera which I think has to be commended as not every actor would be comfortable with it. After all, how many male actors can say they've displayed everything they have to offer to the viewing public? For that reason I think the show is credible as normally in the past if ever there's been nudity it's always been the female who's been shown topless, now male actors are having to expose themselves as well and it's putting both sexes on a equal level.
Aside from the nudity though the violence is also very graphic, there are some scenes where I was hiding behind a pillow as I couldn't watch it (but I'm squeemish like that anyway).
Some of the acting can be a little over the top but not to the point where it stops being believable.
The show works well and will appeal to a more mature audience. I believe the show has already won a couple of awards but I'm not so sure how successful it'll be in the UK as it's had mixed reaction.
Run time: approx 50-60mins
TV Channel: Sky1
- John Hannah
- Lucy Lawless
- Andy Whitfield
- Erin Cummings
One problem I found with the characters was following who each one was as they all have names that were more common to the times of Ancient Rome so you have to be okay to remember these types of names I think to really follow the story but there's plenty of twists and turns to keep you gripped. Just be sure to have a pillow handy in case you want to hide behind it!