By: Joseph Jordan
Noting the comparisons of the revolution in Spartacus as it pertains to modern time. Edit
Spartacus is a film that analyzes modern social and political issues through a telling of an ancient story. It depicts a character set on the idea of gaining freedom, no matter the cost. During the 1960s when this film was released, America was coming out of the Cold War era, but many problems were still plaguing the progress of the American people. Oppression towards minority groups and equal opportunities for those same groups were constantly under attack as human rights advocates worked towards a solution; unfortunately this is still the case, although not as prolific as it once was. During the time of release, America was in the midst of a social and political transformation. A new progressive president, John F. Kennedy, was set to lay the groundwork for a new ideology among the American people that dealt with acceptance instead of hate, freedom instead of oppression, and progressive instead of conservative values.
As the film teaches us through a failed rebellion on the part of Spartacus and his rebels, the answer was not violence. For to be conquered through violence is to conquer any hope of change. The morals shown by the gladiators in this film represent the feelings, before and after, that overcome the oppressed. As a natural human instinct, fight or flight responses are the basis to their rebellion. They understand something must be done if change is to occur, but the only instinct they understand at this point is to fight. Unfortunately, they are not equipped with the means to fight for themselves through words, but through actions, violent actions. The filmmakers seem to understand that violence is not the ideal situation to deal with oppression, but it is the only means these men have. The more significant message we get through this film is not that of violence conquering those who wish to oppress, but the overall ideology that change will only happen through action.
The Civil Rights movement was the action Americans were taking to progress the country toward a more unified state of being. The depiction of Draba, an African gladiator, standing up and fighting back against his oppressors speaks volumes to African Americans that wished to have a voice in a country they not only helped to build, but often died for. His refusal to kill Spartacus is how he makes his voice heard, his morals stand true to the act of non violence in the face of ultimate defeat. His character, above all others, is the epitome of what we wish to be, what is necessary for our country to grow and move past outdated ideologies of one mans life being greater than another's due to the skin tone, gender, or religious views. The importance of this film was felt throughout the nation and served as a catalyst for the change that was to come.
1. Cyrino, Monica Silveira. Big Screen Rome. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2005.
2. Beavers, Sian. "How Is the Ancient World Shaped in Film to Highlight Contemporary Issues of Social, Political and Moral Concern?" Academia.edu. Accessed November 6, 2016. http://www.academia.edu/10936220/How_is_the_Ancient_World_shaped_in_film_to_highlight_contemporary_issues_of_Social_Political_and_Moral_concern.