Monday, October 3, 2011

"I Am Spartacus"

TigerBlog saw, on consecutive days last week, "Spartacus" and "Ben-Hur."

If you don't like the whole ancient Rome epic concept, then you can't watch more than two seconds of either. If you are a fan of the concept, then these two are among your favorite movies of all-time.

TigerBlog falls in to the second category.

As for the American Film Institute, it ranks these two movies second ("Ben-Hur") and fifth ("Spartacus") on its all-time list of epic movies. As the others in the top five are, in order, "Lawrence of Arabia" at No. 1, "Schindler's List" at No. 5 and "Gone With the Wind" at No. 5, then "Ben-Hur" and "Spartacus" rank 1-2 among Roman epics.

"Spartacus," if you've never seen it, stars Kirk Douglas as the slave who escapes and organizes an army to rebel against the mighty Romans.

Before the movie ends, all kinds of people are dead in all kinds of different ways. Spartacus himself goes through some wild emotional swings there, all the way until the final credits, as TigerBlog doesn't want to spoil it for you if you haven't seen it.

What TB will say is that your skin will get the chills when Tony Curtis yells "I Am Spartacus," and those chills will persist in the few seconds that follow.

As for "Ben-Hur," the title character is Judah Ben-Hur, played by Charlton Heston. Like Spartacus, Judah goes through a lot, all because he pissed off the Romans at one point.

Actually, it's hard to say which of the two has it worse, at least for most of their time going against the Romans.

In Judah's case, he spends three years as a galley slave, a time that includes TB's favorite scene in the movie and one of his all-time favorite lines: "In his eagerness to save you, your God has also saved the Roman fleet."

Of course, Ben-Hur also features the chariot race scene, one that took six months to film. That one, and the one with the battle that ultimately frees Judah from his slavery, alone make the movie phenomenal.

Between them, they won 15 Academy Awards. When either is on, TB goes out of his way to watch them, even though they combined are 396 minutes (or 6.6 hours).

They're in the handful of movies that cause all channel changing to stop immediately.

TigerBlog isn't sure how many times he's seen each, though he's pretty sure he's seen "Ben-Hur" more than "Spartacus."

It has never bothered TB to watch the same movie - or TV episode - over and over and over; in fact, it's one of his favorite things. He's seen some movies so many times that he practically has them memorized.

It was something he thought about the other night, as he walked in Princeton Stadium for the Princeton-Columbia football game.

In some ways, it's similar to watching the same movie over and over again, to go to the same sporting events year after year.

On the other hand, they're vastly different animals, since each game is its own entity and the ending is never going to be exactly the same.

So which is it?

Does TB like doing to these games for the same reason he likes watching "Ben-Hur" and "Spartacus" over and over? Because of the sense of familiarity?

Or do they have absolutely nothing in common?

TB has always thought they were related, but he's not quite sure how.

As for the Princeton-Columbia game, Princeton got big performances from Brian Mills (26 carries, 117 yards) and Chuck Dibilio (six carries, 70 yards, 11.7 average), which helped Princeton to 227 rushing yards on the night and a resulting 10-minute edge in possession time in the 24-21 win.

Tom Moak and Mark Hayes caught their first career touchdowns, and freshman Matt Costello averaged 22 yards per catch - with a long touchdown reception wiped out by a penalty.

Another freshman, Khamal Brown, had eight tackles, one off Andrew Starks' team-high nine.

In all, it was a good night for the Tigers, who snapped a 10-game losing streak.

And so a very odd Princeton football season - from a scheduling standpoint - is 30 percent over, and there are still all kinds of questions to be asked, with the main one this: Princeton is tied for first now in the Ivy League, but will this team play meaningful games next month?

The schedule is odd in that it's Oct. 3 and Princeton has just two more home games, with five road games to go with them.

Princeton is on the road the next three weeks, at Hampton, Brown and Harvard, before returning home on Oct. 29 against Cornell.

By then, much of the season's script will have been written, and with four games remaining, a lot more will be known about the 2011 Tigers.

For now, they head on the road on a winning note, after getting one the team desperately needed Saturday night.


Anonymous said...

Did you see Eagles-49ers game in which Philadelphia running back Ronnie Brown, having been stuffed at the line of scrimmage on a short-yardage goal line play, turns backward and attempts to lateral the ball back to Michael Vick? That was a crazy idea at an inopportune moment but don't you think that, somewhere in the recesses of Brown's memory, is a subconscious recollection of his watching Rob Toresco lateraling back to Jeff Terrell?

He was thinking, "I saw this work for Princeton against Penn once."

haphar said...

In 1969, Princeton particpated in the 5th Head of the Charles Regatta (Crew). The Head is now the biggest race in the US. The night before the race, the Princeton JV's watched Ben Hur. Early in the race, the crew was trying to pass another boat. Our cox screamed, "Move aside you --- ----!" Then he yelled , "Ramming speed!" We went by and won the race over 35 crews. Thank you Ben Hur!

Anonymous said...

Too bad...I thought this was going to be a reference to "That Thing You Do" (which in turn is a reference to Spartacus). It's just a lot more fun flick (and with a much catchier song, for sure).