We have just received some more detailed information regarding the upcoming special edition of Spartacus from Criterion Collection later this year thanks to one of our faithful readers.
The release will come in a 2-disc box set at a suggested retail price of $49.95 and will contain commentary tracks by Kirk Douglas, Howard Fast, Peter Ustinov, producer Edward Lewis, production designer Saul Bass, and film restorer Bob Harris. It will also contain interviews with Peter Ustinov and Jean Simmons. The original storyboards and titles from Saul Bass will be found on the release, as well as screenwriter Dalton Trumbo’s scene-by-scene analysis of the entire film. But that’s not all, a deleted scene analysis, additional music by composer Alex North, the theatrical trailer and newsreel footage of the film’s premiere will also be part of the box set release, as well as a featurette called “Breaking the Hollywood Blacklist”.
While all this sounds fascinating and intriguing, it is still a major disappointment that the film will not be released in an 16×9 enhanced version. Especially in the case of “Spartacus”, which has a 2.20:1 aspect ratio in its restored version, an anamorphic transfer could dramatically increase the picture quality and Criterion’s policy in this regard is simply incomprehensible. Also, given the release’s overly hefty price tag, I guess the DVD release of the film Universal put out about a year ago will end up being the version of choice for most people.