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Caligula [1979] (Helen Mirren) -

Customer reviews (av rating: 3.0):

Rating: 3:
Art, Gore and Genitals : 3.5 stars
'Helen Mirren wanders through the whole thing looking aloof and rather bored. In the making of documentary she gets the best line describing the film: "It's an interesting mix of Art and genitals" and then gives the perfect smirk to camera." Sullivat

'Caligula' recounts the real life of the Roman emperor Gaius Caesar, known as Caligula, Malcolm McDowell. He ruled from 37-41 A.D. Caligula is believed by historians to have gone mad shortly after assuming office. He wasted his resources on public shows; exiled or murdered most of his family; enjoyed watching people tortured and killed while he ate dinner; made his pet race horse a consul; proclaimed himself a god; and had temples built in his honor. He was also the man who was murdered by his own guard. Good riddance.

"One can see what attracted Guccione to the project, the loose sexual mores of ancient Rome served up by a bevy of Penthouse pets. However, what makes this movie more than that is a quite literate script from Gore Vidal (more Gore than Vidal as someone said) and Tinto Brass visual sense allowed free reign with such a budget ($17,000,000). The problem is that Brass did not follow Gore's script and good went bad. Gore insisted that his name be removed from the project." Gregory Dorr

Malcolm McDowell plays the deranged angry young (or not so young) man performance that we've seen everywhere.l like 'Clockwork Orange'. Peter O'Toole is loathesome as the rotting Tiberius and appears to be thoroughly enjoying himself. Teresa Ann Savoy is charming as Drusilla. Helen Mirren wanders through the whole thing looking aloof and rather bored. Gielgud acts with disdain through his limited part, hard to t ell wether he's acting or not. Gielgud's Nervo had the right idea: he offs himself at the end of the first half-hour. The image on this DVD is very poor, looking as if it had been transferred not from film stock but rather from a shower curtain.

This was thrid viewing of Caligula and did not live up to its first and second showing that so many years ago. It was not erotic, sad somehow in its efforts to appear all that it is not. 'Caligula' should be seen once for its grand overdone theme. It does give you a feel for the times and the Rome that we visualize.

prisrob 06-07-07

A Clockwork Orange DVD

Elizabeth IDVD

BecketDVD

Rating: 1:
butchered version of able filmic performances : This european version of the original 1979 film is lamentably unwatchable, relative to the original: MASSIVELY CENSORED!

Rating: 4:
Censored and not tight enough : This DVD is censored : at least two scenes are missing that I remember perfectly well from the time the film came out 1979. This is regrettable, as if the world had regressed in the meantime. Caligula is a mystery in history but that is not enough of a justification to make a film about him. He came to power by killing his own grandfather who had stayed in power very long because he himself was a pretty good and effective killer. Caligula will not stay in power very long because he will lose contact with reality since he was living in a totally artificial world in which a man could believe he was a god, adn probably a second reason we will eventually come to. The result then is an assassination at an early age and early date. As for this side of the film, the rotten political and social Roman society, it is both a generalization to the Roman Empire of what at the most one section of Rome was and a realistic vision of the big cities of the Roman Empire. The film is clearly showing slaves but without giving us any way to assess what it meant because we are not explained the meaning of what we are shown : it meant that the master, or rather owner, of the slave could do exactly what he/she pleased : kill the slave, cut the slave into small cubes if the owner had the stomach to do so, or at least have other slaves do it for him, though then the pleasure was probably less intense. If we keep that in mind then Caligula is not that crazy. He is just treating everyone the same way : they are all his slaves, senators and anyone else included. The second level of this society is more interesting in many ways. We are in a Mediterranean society before the spread of the semitic religions, and I should say the first one is not concerned. Judaism never spread. But Christianism, and six centuries later Islam, spread tremendously and these brought along a strange moral puritanism, a cult of purity, virginity and the rejection of sexuality as a sin, even for some a deadly sin. Before sex was just one of these activities you needed to replace all the human beings that died, at times very young, and who were killed for any reason whatsoever. But Sex was also for them a pure distraction and pleasure, all kinds of sex, with no physical or mental gender limits and no politically or sexually correct limits. This led to extreme forms of sexual pleasure when the violence, even cruelty of this society and the free and unlimited sexual pleasure of this culture in which sex, any sex was a necessary initiation that had to come early in life, were associated together. This became sexual torture. And that's exactly what has been cut out of the film. The pleasure for the powerful to sexually torture the ones under them. You name it you have it. In fact this society and culture was more based on pleasure considering suffering, torture, violence and death as nothing but fate, a destiny that had to be accepted and just lived or died through. So when the director and actors and other artistic personnel of the film pretended later on that this vision is valid for our society they are right and wrong at the same time. This has disappeared in our own western societies, more or less, but of course not entirely because it is part of human nature. But if you cannot cut your neighbour in small cubes or simply cit off the genitals of your friends, you can always get into some armed forces and go and do just that in some foreign country that is supposed to be barbaric, though this is the excuse the westerners will give to justify their own perverted actions in the wars they most of the time initiate or at least provide with weapons, at a profit of course. We must say that in fact in such war-time situations we westerners have refined the Roman love of blood and cruelty mixed with sex and orgasmic pleasure thanks to an extremely developed technology that enables us to make our torturing so refined that it does not even leave any physical traces in the flesh, even if one may come out completely crazy - just like Caligula actually - from the torturing chambers because of a long lasting situation in which that one was totally dominated by the absence of any hope to get out of it. You have to turn psychotic if you are thus locked up in what appears a permanent brutal, violent and cruel alienation. You can of course, if you are a Westerner, always go to some third world countries and have all the kinky sex you would not even dream of in the West.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University of Paris Dauphine & University of Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne

Rating: 1:
Censored into incoherence : The US edition of "Caligula" runs for more than two and a half hours. This version is almost an hour shorter. It has been emasculated by the censors, and the result is incoherent and robbed of much of its meaning.
Development of character , setting, and plot in the uncensored "Caligula" depends on scenes involving nudity (erotic and otherwise), explicit sex, and brutal violence. The censored version lacks almost an hour, and what little is left is without context and therefore incomprehensible.
Don't waste your money on the 98 minute emasculated version. Get the 155 minute US version instead.

Rating: 5:
Caligula 1979 : The highlight of this film is without doubt the superlative portrayal of the protagonist. Mr McDowell’s Caligula is menacing, intense, frighteningly unpredictable and ultimately fascinating.

We are drawn into his world as if by hypnosis, he is by turn both appallingly evil and yet has a capacity for tenderness - he is somehow vulnerable and even likeable. This bizarre ambivalence in some ways echoes ‘Alex’ from ‘A Clockwork Orange’ – the character that made Malcolm McDowell’s name about a decade previously. Indeed, Alex would probably choose to be Caligula in his wildest fantasy!

The film has some other great names in its cast: Peter O’Toole as the decaying, treacherous Tiberius, fighting the arms of death that threaten to enfold him any minute, John Gielgud in stark contrast as his wise and good mentor and Helen Mirren, cast as Caligula's wife, and marvellously referred to at one point as 'the most lascivious slut in Rome’.

The film is a visual feast: moodily atmospheric, its rich hues and imaginative sets provide the perfect backdrop to the main action. The plot bears only a passing resemblance to what little historians actually know of the real Caligula, yet all artistic license employed is not only believable, but seemingly quite likely, and serves to enhance the story, which is engaging, if not intoxicating, from beginning to end.

It is true that ‘Caligula’ created huge controversy over its scenes of violence and orgiastic sex – however the full version has never been shown and what we have today is violence which is comparatively mild by modern standards, and eroticism that is often quite sensual.

It seems a shame, given the quality and depth of this excellent production, that some of those involved in it chose to disown it shortly afterwards. Tinto Brass successfully petitioned to have his name removed from the credits…a sad day when an artist feels it necessary to deny his own work – especially when that work is a true masterpiece that anyone ought to be proud to have on their resumé.

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