Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 24th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1962
Director: Sergio Corbucci
Writers: Adriano Bolzoni, Giovanni Grimaldi, Bruno Corbucci
Cast: Steve Reeves, Jacques Sernas, Gianna Maria Canale, Claudio Gora, Ombretta Colli, Roland Bartrop, Franco Balducci, Enzo Fiermonte, Renato Baldini, Gloria Parri
DVD released: July 31st, 2012
Approximate running time: 103minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Warner Archive
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: The son of Spartacus follows in his father’s footsteps and leads the slave in another revolt against Rome.
The Slave directed Sergio Corbucci, who is most remembered for directing the nihilistic Spaghetti western Django. Key collaborators on The Slave include screenwriter Bruno Corbucci (Cop in Drag), cinematographer Enzo Barboni (My Name is Trinity), editor Ruggero Mastroianni (Conversation Piece) and composer Piero Piccioni (The 10th Victim).
Where far too many Peplum rely more on the spectacle of what is occurring on screen. The Slave finds the perfect balance between well rounded characters and spectacle. Also unlike many Italian films at the time which often took titles from other similar movies that where successful at the time. This film makes a genuine attempt at being a film that stands on its own. Despite its main character being drawn from the linage of Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus.
The narrative does a superb job setting up who everyone is and what their motivations are. And it also throws in a few well timed misdirection’s to keep things interesting throughout. And though there is a far amount of time spent building the main characters back-stories. The action sequences never suffer as they are all well executed and inventive. Another area in which this film often stands out from its contemporaries are its death scenes, most notably the way in which this film’s main villain is disposed of.
Without a doubt Steve Reeves (Hercules) is the most recognizable face to ever to appear in the Peplum genre and The Slave would mark his final appearance in the genre that he has become synonymous with. Performance wise he gives what is arguably not only his strongest performance in a Peplum film, but what is easily his strongest performance of his career.
Performance wise the rest of the cast are all very good in their respective roles, unfortunately for them Steve Reeves is just so damn good in this film that his performance towers head and shoulders above all the other performances in this film.
Not to be overlooked is Sergio Corbucci’s solid direction. The Slave also re-teams him with Steve Reeves, who he had previously directed in the film Duel of the Titans. And though he is more known for his forays into the Spaghetti western and Poliziotteschi film genre’s. It is not hard to see his immerging style in The Slave, when it comes to action and violent set pieces.
Though made near the end of the Peplum cycle in Italy, with the arrival of the Spaghetti western just around the corner. The Slave is a surprisingly strong entry in the Peplum genre.
Warner Archives presents The Slave in an anamorphic widescreen that retains this film’s intended 2.35:1 ‘scope’ aspect ratio. Though it is always a plus seeing Peplum’s in their intended aspect ratio’s. The source materials used for this release are not in the best of shape. Colors at times look faded and tend to fluctuate, black levels are mediocre and details range from too soft to average at best. Also there is print damage that varies in degree throughout and there is a heavy layer of grain, which is most noticeable during the opening and closing credits and during darker scenes. It should be noted that even despite these short comings, the overall quality for this transfer is still better then the majority of the transfers that region 1 releases of Peplum’s have gotten to date.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. Background noise is minimal, dialog comes through clearly enough to follow and everything sounds balanced.
This release comes with no extra content. Overall The Slave gets a serviceable audio / video presentation from Warner Archives.