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Mucking out the bullshit: Kubrick, Spartacus and Full Metal Jacket

Spartacus, a monstrosity of sentimentality, only survives in annual repeats on daytime television; Full Metal Jacket is regarded as one of the great 'Nam movies. Strong thematic and structural parallels, however, bind the two films together, and the nauseous incontinence of the earlier film can help us understand the bleak spareness of the later one.
William Fitzgerald
14 November 2011

In the Kubrick oeuvre, one film sticks out as something of an embarrassment, and that is his Hollywood toga epic, Spartacus (1961). Kubrick himself described it as the only film over which he didn’t have control, and the complicated history of its genesis makes it an awkward film to treat within the context of an oeuvre so marked by control.1 Not surprisingly, it is more usually treated as an example of a Hollywood genre than as the work of an auteur. Kirk Douglas, the producer and star, called in the twenty-nine year old Kubrick to replace the original director, Anthony Mann, fired at Douglas’ request after shooting had already begun.2 By then, the project had a long and troubled history, and the much revised script had been the object of byzantine intrigues.3 The stars of the movie--Douglas himself, Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov and Jean Simmons --constituted a formidable roster of egos, unlikely to be malleable to the intentions of the still obscure young director. This is all to say that, although one can identify Kubrick touches, or anticipations of things to come, in Spartacus, it is not a movie that easily lends itself to the kind of extended analysis of directorial vision to which virtually all the other movies of Kubrick have been subjected.4 Nor has it received such attention. In fact, Spartacus tends to feature more as an episode in the biography of Kubrick than as a part of his filmography. If it does have a role to play in Kubrick’s oeuvre, it is the role of embarrassment.

But that may not be an insignificant role if we are to believe Michael Herr, who worked on the script of Full Metal Jacket. In his little book on Kubrick, Herr says that he sometimes thinks that Kubrick was ruled by his aversions, which Herr identifies as sentimentality, bullshit and sanctimoniousness. 5 Kubrick certainly did his best to limit the presence of this ungodly trio in Spartacus. One example of such an intervention is the scene where Spartacus, the trainee gladiator, is provided with female company. Varinia (Jean Simmons) was to have beat her fists against his chest in a vain show of resistance. But Kubrick eliminated this cliché: Varinia would by now have come to accept necessity, so she offers no resistance, and the scene is more powerful for the change.

 

 

But there was a limited amount Kubrick could do to control a project whose executive producer was its star, and the film commits all the cardinal sins on Herr’s list. There’s a humorous allusion to Spartacus in Kubrick’s next film, Lolita (1962), but not much sign of it in the rest of Kubrick’s work, until one gets to Full Metal Jacket (1987), a movie about as far removed in ethos from Spartacus as one can find in the Kubrick oeuvre.6 In spite of the huge difference in tone and subject matter, the two films display some striking structural similarities. Herr’s suspicion that Kubrick works by subtraction is nowhere more in evidence than in Full Metal Jacket, that apogee of the unsentimental in Kubrick’s work, which is also, in many respects, a remake of Spartacus. It is often said that Vietnam movies replay history in order to turn that monstrous debacle into some kind of triumph. Nobody could accuse Kubrick of that. But one could adapt the same statement to the smaller world of Kubrick’s own oeuvre. What he did in Full Metal Jacket, among other things, was to remake, and unmake, the embarrassing Spartacus, and to replace the sentimentality and sanctimoniousness of the earlier work with a triumph of dry-eyed irony.

By contrast with Spartacus, Full Metal Jacket is one of Kubrick’s most carefully controlled films; Kubrick had not released a movie in five years when he started filming, and the now legendary director was more or less given carte blanche by Warner Brothers.7 In other ways, too, the movies can be considered polar opposites. Spartacus is set in the ancient world; the battle scenes are epic in scale; the genre is as old as cinema itself; the actors are gigantic stars, and both subject matter and treatment are morally uplifting. Full Metal Jacket is a specimen of a relatively new genre; the subject matter is of recent memory; the moral outlook is pessimistic; the demeanour cool and ironic; the only battle-scene revolves around a sniper, and the actors are hardly the stuff of legend. But consider the striking parallels between these utterly opposed films: both fall into two halves, the first half set in a training camp for killers (the gladiatorial school of Lentulus Batiatus and the Marine Corps training program on Parris Island), and the second half features a war. In Full Metal Jacket, we follow a group of recruits as they undergo basic training at boot camp and then, in the second half, a combat unit in Vietnam during the Tet offensive. The main character from Parris Island (Joker) becomes a reporter and joins up with a unit called the ‘Lusthogs’, which contains one of his Parris Island colleagues (Cowboy). The film culminates in a long sequence in which the unit is terrorized by a sniper whom they eventually kill; that sniper turns out to be a young woman. In Spartacus, the gladiators break out of the training camp run by the brutal Marcellus; they then build up an army that, after some successes, is finally crushed by Crassus (Laurence Olivier), who has the survivors, including Spartacus himself, crucified. One could say that in each case the second half of the movie poses the question of how the protagonists will comport themselves away from the authority under which they have suffered in the first half. What kind of army, or society, will the gladiators create, and how will they treat those over whom they themselves come to have power?8 What will happen to the recruits released from the claustrophobic and minutely controlled world of Parris Island into the chaos of Vietnam?

In both films the first part ends in an act of rebellion: a recruit goes mad and shoots the brutal drill instructor, Hartman, then himself; the gladiators kill their guards and break out of the camp. These rebellions are precipitated by a scene in which a character makes an important choice about whether to assault a colleague. In Spartacus, the African gladiator Draba, after a momentary hesitation, refuses to kill the defeated Spartacus in a fight to the death staged for the private delectation of Crassus and his entourage. Draba is killed by Crassus and his body left hanging in the camp as a warning. The revolt of the gladiators, then, is a consequence of Draba’s decision. Full Metal Jacket echoes that moment of decision but, characteristically, reverses it: when the recruits, encouraged by Hartman, line up to beat their incompetent and pathetic colleague, Pyle, Joker hesitates; he has been the nearest thing to a friend that Pyle has had, but in the end he too joins in, with considerable gusto. The beating pushes Pyle over the edge and leads to his shooting of Hartman. These scenes are matched at the end of each of their respective movies by a mercy-killing that carries a great deal of narrative weight, as we shall see. Provisionally, we could say that both movies are propelled by the question “How will our hero kill?” In the light of these structural parallels it is curious that Kubrick should say of Spartacus that “It had everything but a good story.”9

Why does a mercy-killing play such a pivotal role in these movies? To begin with, this is an act that combines violence with tenderness, and as such it is an act ripe for sexualization. Sex and gender issues are important for both movies. Typically for its genre, Spartacus asks what it is to be a man, and answers, hopefully, that it is a matter of negotiation between feminine and masculine qualities.10 Full Metal Jacket traces the process by which recruits are turned into killers, basically by expunging the feminine (which makes an unexpected return). It does not endorse this process, but it offers no way out.

Both movies read the political through the sexual. Spartacus , on one level a film about slavery, could be seen as a reflection on the senses in which one can and cannot “have” a person, a locution that is introduced when Spartacus tells Varinia that he has never “had” a woman. The Roman senator Crassus, who is both obsessed and fascinated by Spartacus’ charisma as a challenge to the Rome whose very name he worships, tells us that that he means to “have” Spartacus. Baulked in this desire he diverts his attention to having Varinia. The second half of Full Metal Jacket, set in Vietnam, opens with Nancy Sinatra’s hit song “These Boots are Made for Walking”, overlaid on a rear view of a Da Nang prostitute approaching a couple of American soldiers. The words “you’ve been a messing where you shouldna been a messing” brilliantly and multifariously reflect the political situation. This transition between the two halves of the movie is also an implicit pun. The marines were last seen in 'boot camp', a place where boots oppress those who wear them; now the same boots are instruments of power. Sung by a woman and accompanied by the image of the prostitute striding towards the marines, the song suggests that the men may again become victims, and when this happens it will be in a combat that pits them against a woman.11 But their shared concern with gender and power also distinguishes the movies from each other: while much of the emotional punch of Spartacus derives from the shading of homosociality into homoeroticism in this genre that puts men on display12, Full Metal Jacket is more interested in the relation between male bonding and the objectification of women.

 

 

Similar though they are in structure and content, the two films could not be more different in style. The script of Spartacus, as we shall see, gives everything away: it articulates its morals, interprets its own scenes, and its overheated emotions are garrulous in the extreme. Full Metal Jacket studiously avoids affirmation; its central character and narrator (Joker) can only speak ironically and the same applies to Kubrick. In the last moments of the film, as Joker sums up the events of the day with the ironic words “we have nailed our names to the pages of history enough for today” the squad, walking in rows across a hellish landscape lit by burning buildings, gradually breaks into the Mouseketeer anthem. But Joker’s “we have nailed our names to the pages of history” surely alludes to the end of Spartacus, in which Spartacus’ wife and child drive past a row of slaves, including Spartacus himself, nailed to crosses (and the pages of history). So much for uplifting cultural references! If Spartacus sought to appropriate the cultural icon of the cross to a more political kind of sacrificial or redemptive narrative, Full Metal Jacket parades the regressive nature of the cultural icons that truly sustain us. When Varinia raises Spartacus’ baby for his father to see as he dies on the cross, she voices a hope for the future. Kubrick’s use of the Mouseketeer song in the final scene of Full Metal jacket looks not to the future, but rather to the regressive character of human (or at least male) nature.

It is the final mercy-killing that is the most telling locus of the relationship between the two films. In part, this is because of the structural weight these scenes are made to bear: the mercy-killings form the denouement of two movies in which people are turned into killers by powers they cannot resist; these particular killings raise the possibility that the protagonists might wrest the meaning of the act of killing from its surrounding context. But the mercy-killings are telling also because of the challenge to representation that this act presents. What does killing as an act of charity, even love, look like?

When Penelope Gilliat interviewed Kubrick after the making of Full Metal Jacket, Kubrick identified this climactic scene, in which Joker kills the wounded enemy sniper to put her out of her agony, as “humanity rearing its ugly head.”

Gilliat describes Kubrick's remark as “wry.” But there’s more than a hint of smugness in these words, which don’t so much comment on the scene as identify its raison d’etre. Kubrick triumphantly succeeds in finding a situation in which the human, and humane, face is going to be ugly. Spartacus had made something quite different out of the contradictions inherent in this act, something embarrassing.

After defeating the slave army Spartacus’ nemesis, Crassus finally succeeds in forcing two gladiators to fight to the death, as he had failed to do in the first half of the film, where a private gladiatorial duel to the death put on for Crassus’ entourage had ended with Draba throwing his weapon at Crassus instead of killing Spartacus. This time, Crassus succeeds in making the close friends, Spartacus and Antoninus, fight to the death by declaring that the winner will be crucified. If they love each other, they will try to kill each other; as Spartacus reminds his friend, death on the cross is slow and agonizing. Antoninus refuses Spartacus’ order not to give Crassus the satisfaction of a fight and ferociously attacks Spartacus, but he is disarmed by the more skilful gladiator, thrown to the ground and pinioned. When Spartacus, asking his friend’s forgiveness, stabs him, the dying Antoninus declares “I love you Spartacus as I….love my own father.” Spartacus reciprocates with “I love you...like the son that I’ll never see. Go to sleep” and, weeping, he bows his head over Antoninus, cradling him in a Pieta.

 

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Love deaths are a Kubrick speciality. One thinks, for instance, of HAL in 2001 being terminated/disconnected as he sings “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do. I’m half crazy, all for the love of you.” But there is no irony here. A clumsy denial follows on Spartacus’ “penetration” and Antoninus’ declaration of love (“I love you Spartacus, as I … love my own father”). The scene, with its awkward combination of sexualization and denial, may provoke a smile. But to a heterosexual male audience that might be wrestling with the uneasy pleasures of watching males on display, the awkwardness of the scene can carry an emotional power.13 The floating homoeroticism of the movie finds a focus here and gives the scene a utopian charge more powerful than Spartacus’ immediately preceding speech about the significance of the gesture of revolt, however doomed.14 This scene, and the emotion it gathers and channels from other homoerotically tinged scenes in the movie, can only really make sense in some other world, conceivable but forbidden.15 Sexual and political relations have shadowed each other throughout the film, most notably in the originally censored “snails and oysters” scene, now included in the lavish 1991 restoration. There Crassus leads his new slave, Antoninus, in a Socratic interroation about the moral neutrality of a taste for oysters, snails, or both. Antoninus is placed in a position where he can only agree, and to avoid this he slips away as Crassus, oblivious, discourses on the might of Rome, before which one must abase oneself. Eventually Antoninus joins Spartacus’ revolt and the two become close friends. Crassus develops an obsession with the figure of Spartacus and this obsession manifests itself in statements like “it’s Spartacus I’m after, and I mean to have him.” By forcing Spartacus to kill Antoninus, Crassus does, in a sense, have them both, but by playing out a love-scene in front of, and excluding, Crassus, the two slaves render his victory Pyrrhic.

Like the scene in Spartacus, the mercy-killing at the end of Full Metal Jacket raises the question of whether there is any way out of violence, and not surprisingly the answer is negative. Full Metal Jacket’s denouement consists in the encounter of Joker’s squad with a Vietcong sniper, who lures them into a trap and kills three of their number. When Joker manages to track the sniper down she turns out to be a teenage girl; he is about to fire but his gun only clicks, giving him away. The sniper spins round and is about to kill him when another member of the squad shoots her. The squad gathers round the body of the mortally wounded sniper. Animal Mother, who is now in command of the unit, wants to leave the sniper to die. Joker protests that they can’t leave her like this, to which Animal Mother replies “If you want to waste her, go ahead, waste her.” We watch Joker’s face go through an impressive repertoire of contortions, twitches, stares and quivers until finally he fires his gun. The camera never leaves his face, even through the ensuing reactions of Animal Mother and another member of the unit.

 

 

Joker’s face in the moment of decision is a Rohrschach test, for it is impossible to say with any confidence what it expresses. It may remind us of the contorted but inscrutable face of the writer in Clockwork Orange when he realizes that he holds in his power the man whose assault had put him in a wheelchair (Alex). In Joker’s case, the audience must decide how to read what he is summoning up in order to perform this act, just as they must decide what they are, or are not, going to let into the gap in “I love you Spartacus, as I…love my own father.”

But the Spartacus scene, whose dynamic of homoerotic desire and disavowal is so embarrassingly readable (we feel we know more about the script than its writer), is at the opposite pole to the Full Metal Jacket scene, which blocks the interpretive process. Around the Spartacus scene plays a rich penumbra of meanings and emotional engagements that the movie can’t quite control. Its counterpart in Full Metal Jacket displays the director’s control in its very unreadability. What we cannot evade is the fact that the face that goes with this humane act is an ugly face, and ugly because of what it is summoning up. Kubrick’s statement about humanity rearing its ugly head is echoed by Animal Mother’s “Joker, we’re gonna have to put you up for the Congressional medal of … UGLY” The other reaction from the squad is equally aesthetic: “hard core, man, fucking hard core.”

In one respect, the latter remark would be more appropriate to the penetration/stabbing in Spartacus, since what we actually see in the Full Metal Jacket scene is anything but “hard core.” Kubrick shows only the heads. No shot includes both Joker and the sniper, and we do not see the sniper die. If the repeated “shoot me”s of the sniper quicken their pace in a way that is sexually suggestive, Kubrick is careful to avoid any orgasmic coincidence between their climax and the shot that kills her. It is as though he had raised the inevitable suggestion in order to block it : this author is always one jump ahead of his interpreters.

But there is a deeper irony in Animal Mother’s appreciation of Joker's “hard core” act. For there is no way that Joker’s revolt against the callous brutality of Animal Mother can appear as anything but the same thing. When Joker challenges Animal Mother and kills the sniper, does he save her or does he “fuck ‘er”, as Animal Mother puts it when he tells his squad to leave her for the rats? More importantly, could we tell the difference? The scene’s dynamic is an inversion of the equivalent scene in Spartacus: Spartacus and Antony are forced to obey the will of Crassus; but they give that obedient performance a meaning that defies him. Joker, by contrast, directly defies Animal Mother, but the act of doing so cannot help but appear to conform with what Animal Mother has just suggested: “If you want to waste her, go ahead--waste her.” What is Joker doing when he kills the sniper? Is he expelling the Feminine (which is now making a claim on him), or performing a difficult act of mercy? Redeeming or repeating what he did to Private Pyle, after a similar hesitation? Can you, in fact, tell these alternatives apart? And is there any way that this killing, whatever its motivation, will not be received as “hard core” by the squad?

The focus on this scene as the Big Moment, in which the typical war movie tests Humanity and finds it true, makes the scene something of a parody. We don’t know what we are to take away from this scene, but we are clear about what we can’t. A comparable effect is achieved in the final moment of Eyes Wide Shut. Alice (Nicole Kidman) announces to her husband Bill (Tom Cruise), with whom (to banalize a little), she has been having marital problems, that there’s something she knows they must do as soon as possible. We wait for what, in another movie by another director, would be some kind of Important Statement. The one word that Alice delivers is “Fuck.” A promising suggestion, but it is spoken in a tone that has been carefully (and no doubt painstakingly) stripped of any affect, as though its possible emotional implications had been removed one by one. It is not lustful, obscene, inviting, suggestive, angry, or even throwaway. In fact one could define the tone in which it is said as being the one would keep all these possibilities at bay. Joker’s face, as he shoots the sniper, achieves the same kind of effect by carefully allowing every possibility without confirming any.

 

 

I want now to throw a third film into the mix, Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957). Like Spartacus, this was also a Kirk Douglas vehicle, and Douglas turned to Kubrick to replace Anthony Mann because he had been impressed by the young director’s work on Paths. Tim Cahill, who interviewed Kubrick for Rolling Stone in 1987, shortly after Full Metal Jacket was released, suggested to him that the scene of the mercy-killing has resonances with the final scene of Paths of Glory. Kubrick added that final scene to the originally planned ending partly because he wanted a role for a certain German actress (Suzanne Christian) who was to become his wife. In the scene a terrified and tearful young German woman is brought before the jeering, wolf-whistling French troops and made to sing a song. She sings an unaccompanied German folk song, the sort of thing children might (and did) learn at school.16 Gradually the mood changes, until the tears are coming from the French troops, who begin to pick up the tune and join in, humming.

 

Cahill describes the connection with the Full Metal Jacket scene as follows: “a woman surrounded by enemy soldiers, the odd, ambiguous gesture that ties these people together...” Kubrick replies that this an accident, since the sniper scene comes right out of Hasford’s book, The Short -Timers, on which Michael Herr’s script is based. That may be true, but the scene comes about two thirds of the way into the book; in the movie it is close to the end, where it takes on a structural significance equivalent to that of the Paths scene. Cahill’s description is interesting not only for the connection he makes, but for what it says about the difference between these two scenes. The important relation in Full Metal Jacket is not between Joker and the woman he kills, but between Joker and his colleagues. The extent to which Kubrick’s scene does not tie woman and enemy soldier together can be seen by comparing the original version in Hasford’s novel:

 

“I look at the sniper. She whimpers. I try to decide what I would want if I were down, half dead, hurting bad, surrounded by my enemies. I look into her eyes, trying to find the answer. She sees me. She recognizes me—I am the one who will end her life. We share a bloody intimacy.” (Hasford 1979.101)

 

In Full Metal Jacket, sniper and soldier exchange no glance; rather, it is the audience that looks into Joker’s eyes, “trying to find the answer,” but there is no recognition to be had. In other ways, too, Cahill’s comparison with Paths is more appropriate than he knows. The scene between the French troops and the German woman follows shortly on the climactic scene of the movie, in which three French soldiers are executed for cowardice. The soldiers, selected at random from the battalion, are tied to stakes and shot before the impassive ranks of their comrades and superiors; it is not a mercy-killing, but it is “hard core”—a deliberate, cold-blooded killing watched by an audience of soldiers standing to attention. Only when an analogous scenario is played out between male and female (French troops and German girl), with a woman now “at the stake”, is the emotion that has been repressed by military discipline allowed to flow. It is a somewhat schematic and sentimental complementarity between male-male and male-female scenes, but it makes for powerful drama.

In Full Metal Jacket Kubrick rearranges the elements of these two scenes to short-circuit the dramatic and emotional flow between them. Joker’s squad witnesses his killing of the sniper with the “thousand-yard stare” of the experienced Marine, a stare that recalls the ranks of impassive French soldiers. But the sniper is female, and subjected to sexual taunts, like the German girl in Paths; she too communicates across languages, but this time by breaking into English (“shoot me”). What Kubrick carefully erases in this collapsing of the two Paths scenes is any trace of redemptive mediation by the female; the sniper, shot (in both senses) from above, seems to exist in a different spatial dimension to that of the men. Once she has been killed, the squad resumes its solidarity and celebrates it with the Mouseketeer song, a memory of childhood, like the German folk song. But, this time, the childhood song effects exactly the opposite of the release of suppressed emotion, mediated by a woman, that closes Paths . As the screen fades to black, the Rolling Stones on the sound track remind us to “Paint it Black.”

Matching Herr’s remark, with which I began, that Kubrick was ruled by his aversions, is a striking formulation by Michel Ciment (2001.122), who suggests that “In the pessimism of [Kubrick’s] films there is what might be termed the hygiene of a tabula rasa.” I have been arguing that Kubrick’s reworking of elements from the two earlier films in Full Metal Jacket is a process of wiping the slate clean of anything that could be construed as sentimentality, and that one might indeed think of Kubrick’s pessimism as a hygiene rather than a vision. Ciment’s statement predates Full Metal Jacket (the original French version of his book was published in 1980), but the phrase “hygiene of a tabula rasa” brings to mind the spotless surfaces of Parris Island and the process of breaking down the recruits that begins with the shaving of their heads. Parris Island is a world ruled by a perfectionist virtuoso, Drill Instructor Hartman, whose endlessly inventive insults keep us nailed to our seats, gasping. In spite of his relentless barking of obscenity and scatology, or perhaps because of it, Hartman emerges as a monster of hygiene. There is no shit in the toilets where Private Pyle shoots Hartman and himself. If Full Metal Jacket portrays “a world of shit”, in the film’s repeated phrase, it is hygienic shit, produced by the systematic avoidance of bullshit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography.

 

Cahill, Tim. 1987. “Interview with Stanley Kubrick,” Rolling Stone, 27 August 1997,

Ciment, Michel. 2001. Kubrick: The Definitive Edition. New York

Fitzgerald, Wiliam. 2001. “Oppositions, Ambiguities and Anxieties in the Toga Movie,” in Sandra R. Joshel, Margaret Malamud and Donald T. McCguire, Jr, edd. Imperial Projections: Ancient Rome in Modern and Popular Culture, 23-49. Baltimore.

Futrell, Alison. 2001. “Seeing Red: Spartacus as Domestic Economist,” in Sandra R. Joshel, Margaret Malamud and Donald T. McCguire, Jr, edd. Imperial Projections: Ancient Rome in Modern and Popular Culture, 77-118. Baltimore.

Hasford, Gustav. 1979. The Short –Timers. New York.

LoBrutto, Vincent. 1997. Stanley Kubrick: a Biography. New York.

Gilliat, Penelope. 1987. “Heavy Metal” American Film, September 1987, 20-32, 50-52.

Hark, Ina Rae. 1993. “Animals or Romans: Looking at Masculinity in Spartacus” in Steven Cohan and Ina Rae Hark, edd. Screening the Male: Exploring masculinities in Hollywood Cinema. London.

Herr, Michael. 2000. Kubrick. New York.

Nelson, Thomas. 2000. Kubrick: Inside a Film Arstist’s Maze. Indiana.

Wyke, Maria. 1997. Projecting the Past: Ancient Rome, Cinema and History. New York.

 

1 Kubrick quoted in Nelson 2000..314.

  1. 2LoBrutto 2000.166-93 provides a good account of the making of Spartacus.

  1. 3The movie was based on the novel, Spartacus, by Howard Fast, published in 1951. Fast, a member of the communist party, had seen the story of Spartacus as a struggle against the proto-capitalism of Rome. The script was written (and rewritten) by the then blacklisted author Dalton Trumbo, and scenes were rewritten by Peter Ustinov (who plays Batitaus), Douglaas and Kubrick. See Trumbo 1991. There is an excellent study of the history of the figure of Spartacus and of the politics of the movie in Futrell 2001.

4 On the Kubrickian chessboard motif in this movie, see Hughes 2000.76

45 Herr 2000.44. “Hypocrisy was not some petty human foible, it was the corrupted essence of our predicament, which for Stanley was purely an existential predicament. In terms of narrative, since movies are stories, the most contemptible lie was sentimentality, and the most disgusting lie was sanctimoniousness.”

56 Kubrick in Look, quoted by Hark 1993.161

6 In Lolita, Quilty, dressed in a sheet says to Humbert “No, I’m Spartacus. Have you come to free the slaves of something?”

 

7 Lobrutto 1997.455-501 describes the making of Full Metal Jacket

8 This is the question Ina Rae Hark addresses in the best piece on Spartacus (Hark 1993): “The true victory about which Antonius speculates could only occur with the eradication of the binaries of signification and materiality, subjection and subjectivity, Roman and animal. While Spartacus allows its protagonists to oscillate among all these positons, it cannot imagine a space in which such binarism collapses.” (169) She argues that it is with the starchild of 2001 that Kubrick comes closest to imagining such a position.

9 Kubrick quoted in Nelson 2000.314

10 On this, see Fitzgerald 2001. 34-6

11 Later, there is another important scene with a Vietnamese prostitute. See Nelson 2000.254-5.

12 See Fitzgerald 2001. 36-46

13 On “masculinity as spectacle,” see Neale 1993

14 Answering Antoninus’ question “Could we have won, Spartacus? Could we ever have won?” Spartacus answers “Just by fighting them, we won something. When just one man says ‘No, I won’t,’ Rome begins to fear.”

15 On the utopian dimension of the homoeroticism, see Fitzgerald 2001.36-46

16 Lo Brutto 1997.149 indentifies the song as 'The Faithful Hussar', a folk song well known to German schoolchildren.

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