Stanley Kubrick’s classic “Spartacus” gets a spectacular Blu-ray 4K restoration

by on July 20, 2015

Stephan Jukic – July 20, 2015

The 1960’S classic movie “Spartacus”, featuring veteran and surprisingly still alive actor Kirk Douglas is getting a reboot in full blown 4K resolution.

The film, whose famous “I’m Spartacus” line made movie meme history, was originally released in 1960 and directed by none other than legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick.

Now, Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced as of a couple days ago that they would be putting out a newly remastered Blu-ray release of the movie, for the U.S market as of October 6th, 2015.

The film, starring the aforementioned Kirk Douglas, also features Luwrence Oliver, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov and Tony Curtis among other partly forgotten stars from that now seemingly distant era. Nonetheless, in an effort to introduce this classic and Hollywood stylized story about the historical revolt against the authority of the ancient Roman Republic by the slave gladiator Spartacus, Universal has given the 1960 film reels a 4K ultra HD movie restoration into digital media so that modern audiences can enjoy the full original film quality in the latest digital resolution technology.

One of the restored Technidrama 35 mm film reels from Spartacus in 4K digital resolution

One of the restored Technidrama 35 mm film reels from Spartacus in 4K digital resolution

Additional special features on the disc include a conversation with Kirk Douglas titled “I am Spartacus”, A video about the restoration of the movie, archival interviews, Behind-the-Scenes footage, vintage newsreels, an image gallery and finally, the original theatrical trailer.

Kubrick filmed the original movie production in 35 mm Super 70 Technidrama format and then had that footage blown up to a 70 mm format that was the equivalent for the time of today’s highest digital resolutions. This was done specifically to create a sort of reel-based ultra-high definition and capture the massive panoramic shots of the movie in maximum detail. One scene in particular, which shows over 8,000 Roman soldiers in a massive shot really stands out for the spectacle effect it creates in this ultra-high def reel format that Kubrick used.

Most importantly of all though, the original film reel process for the movie also lends itself particularly well to conversion into 4K UHD digital format given that early 35 mm film reels actually created the celluloid equivalent of at least 19 to 20 megapixels or roughly 5400 x 3600 pixels. This means that the footage from Kubrick’s original sequences would have to be scaled slightly DOWN for the sake of converting it to 4K digital resolutions of 3840 x 2160 pixels.

Other companies are also converting classic old celluloid movies to 4K and other ultra HD resolutions for release. Sony Studios is known to be involved in this game and the original 1950’s Godzilla was recently remastered to 4K from its original film reels in Japan.

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  • Movie Reviews Simbasible
    April 17, 2016 at 6:45 am

    Spartacus is well acted, really well made and wonderfully entertaining, but it is also typical and uneven.


  • JT
    April 17, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    Where is the 4K dvd for region 1?


    • Stephen
      April 29, 2019 at 10:45 am

      4K disc releases are only done in Blu-ray, not DVD, which couldn’t hold the necessary data anyhow, and fortunately, 4K Blu-rays are not tied down to regions. They can be used anywhere globally.


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