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The holidays have been over for a while now, but I’ve been having a hard time getting back into the swing of things. Getting up early, putting on office clothes, brushing my hair. These have been challenging for me after about 10 days of holidays: sleeping in, wearing my pajamas for days, throwing my hair in a ponytail, watching movies for hours on end while I knit. Now THAT is living.

So difficult has been my re-entry to the world of work that I actually started trying to calculate how much knitting I would have to sell in order to earn my current salary. Suffice it to say that I couldn’t knit that much even if I didn’t sleep for a year. So back to work I got, knowing that in another week or two I will have adjusted and forgotten about the bliss that is the holidays.

The good news is that I did see some great movies over the holidays, and did a remarkable amount of knitting. I actually saw Spartacus (1960) for the first time on New Year’s Eve. I’ve always been fascinated by Stanley Kubrick’s work (I wouldn’t exactly call myself a fan, but definitely interested in his films), and I AM a fan of some of the big epics from this time period: The Ten Commandments (1956) and Ben-Hur (1959).

1960_SpartacusWhat I wasn’t expecting was the non-religious tone of the film, at least in comparison to the two aforementioned films. I’m so used to Heston ranting about The Lord Thy God, etc. It was an unexpected relief not to have to listen to it. I felt the director (and writer Dalton Trumbo) went out of their way to avoid those religious overtones, other than the voice-over in the opening sequence. Far from being disappointing, this actually made me more curious about the making of the film. What I learned (from Wikipedia, so take it with a grain of salt) was that the film came about in part because Kirk Douglas lost the role of Ben-Hur to Charlton Heston. He was interested in doing an epic that depicted one man’s fight against the Roman empire. Well, he sure got one. I wonder if he had any influence on the lack of religious content, and if so, if he would have enjoyed making Ben-Hur after all.

I can’t say I enjoyed Spartacus as much as I enjoy the Ten Commandments. Jean Simmons can’t hold a candle to Anne Baxter. But it was worth watching nonetheless. Apparently Kubrick wasn’t happy with the film, and disassociated himself from it after its release. Too bad he didn’t live long enough to disassociate himself from Eyes Wide Shut. Now there’s a cinematic crime.

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