The perversion behind imperial Rome, the epic story of Rome's mad Emporer. All the details of his cruel, bizarre reign are revealed right here: His unholy sexual passion for his sister, his marriage to Rome's most infamous prostitute, his fiendishly inventive means of disposing those who would oppose him, and more
Malcolm McDowell ... Caligula
Teresa Ann Savoy ... Drusilla
Guido Mannari ... Macro
John Gielgud ... Nerva
Peter O'Toole ... Tiberius
Giancarlo Badessi ... Claudius
Bruno Brive ... Gemellus
Adriana Asti ... Ennia
Leopoldo Trieste ... Charicles
Paolo Bonacelli ... Chaerea
John Steiner ... Longinus
Mirella D'Angelo ... Livia (as Mirella Dangelo)
Helen Mirren ... Caesonia
Rick Parets ... Mnester (as Richard Parets)
Paula Mitchell ... Subura Singer
Director: Tinto Brass
Codecs: DivX 3 / MP3
CALIGULA is a terribly misunderstood film. I believe too many people think of it as a cheap porno, and bash it due to that. "All porn is bad," right?
CALIGULA was a daring film experiment incorporating big-name, established talent, and the raw energy of under ground film techniques. What results is nothing short of a fascinating product.
All of the acting is very good. Malcolm McDowell plays psychotic villains so well, one can't help but think he's like that in real life. His portrayal of Gaius Caligula just drips with maniacal megalomania. The little-known Teresa Ann Savoy is convincing as Drusilla, Caligula's sister. And Peter O'Toole's Tiberius Caesar, whose diseased face is rotting away, is truly an oddity to behold...put he pulls it off well. The acting in general is all very good.
The use of music is also to be noted. There are original, evocative pieces written for the film by Paul Clemente, no doubt a talented composer.
While some of the photography is stilted in this film, for the most part it's gorgeous. A lot of people say the colors are "dark" and "washed out", but I think that lends to the grittiness of the film.
Danilo Donati's sets are big and well designed, it kind of shocks you to see someone getting a blow job in them. They look like they belong in a run-of-the-mill Hollywood produced film. Aren't all pornos supposed to be filmed in the director's back yard?
And that right there is the point of the film. To shock you; you can't believe you're seeing what you're seeing. Beyond the violence and the sex is a well written, acted, and photographed film.
As pornography, this film leaves a lot to be desired. To call it such is naive and absurd, and you obviously haven't seen any REAL pornography.
As a film, it leaves a lot to be desired. It lacks a number of things (dialogue, plot movement, etc) that make even a mediocre movie mediocre.
As far as a complete effort, it is fantastic. The attempt to even try something like this is outrageous and to have pulled it off (pardon the pun) as much as Guccioni and the gang did is amazing.
It seems as if the fact that some actual money was poured into this epic makes it bad, while something like 'Pink Flamingos' by John Waters is thought of as 'great' when it is just as likely to make a person squirm with its bad taste (again, pardon the pun and God rest Divine).
I really like this movie. It is like NOTHING that has ever been made nor will there ever be anything made like it. It is all at once historical (at least as much as say, Saving Private Ryan); it is thought provoking, it is strangely erotic, it is disturbing, and lastly, it is a movie that (love it or hate it) you will NOT forget if you do decide to see it.
This film, as with all, has good points and bad points.
In general, I feel that the good ones far outweigh the bad.
The film simply gives the story of the rise and death of Emperor Caligula in a very straight-forward manner. Indeed, it can be seen as shocking, but I think that this is a side-effect of it's desire to be realistic, rather than a deliberate act on the part of the film-makers.
The cinematography and camera work is awful. The huge sets seem at times almost claustrophobic which is an absolute crime considering the magnificence of them. There is also too much emphasis on Caligula himself, to the detriment of revealing some important traits in other characters, making them seem somewhat shallow at times.
The sex scenes are very well placed within the context of the film. I thought that only two scenes stood out as being unnecessarily overt, but for the most part, the explicitness is on the fringe of the focus of each scene, while also playing a major part in the atmosphere.
Never once did I feel that any dialogue was out of place, nor did the acting strike me as being bad.
By far the biggest problem with this film is the fact that the sexual content is widely advertised and therefore anticipated before viewing. This may cause people to focus dominantly on those scenes without really looking at the film as a whole. For me, it enhanced the film. Not in a particularly titillating way, but in the fact that there was no compromise during scenes of sexual acts. Roman orgies are regarded to have been extremely opulent and promiscuous - I found it refreshing to see one as it may have actually been rather than lots of fully-clothed laughing fat men pouring red wine over their faces and eating grapes while draped with female automatons.
In summary, Caligula definitely has it's place in film history due to it's controversy, but if you look beyond that controversy, you should find a rather good film which neatly tells the story of how power can turn someone into a madman.
* Writer Gore Vidal did not want credit for his work.
* Peter O'Toole and John Gielgud claimed to have been unaware hardcore sex footage was being shot for the film.
* The film took nearly four years to make.
* Prior to his hiring of Tinto Brass to direct, Bob Guccione had been in negotiations with John Huston, and then Lina Wertmüller - who wanted to cast Jack Nicholson in the film's starring role.
* The stadium spanned the length of three US football fields, and featured a 'headclipper' that was 5 stories high and 150 feet wide.
* The full-scale Roman vessel, complete with 120 hand-carved oars, was the largest prop ever built at that time; it was over 175 feet long and 30 feet high.
* Under the supervision of Danilo Donati, 3592 costumes were designed. 5000 handcrafted boots and sandals were worn by the cast. The wigs were made from more than a thousand pounds of human hair, which was painstakingly sorted and matched.
* A Yugoslavian stallion named Davide was cast as Caligula's horse, Incitatus.
* An ad in the Wednesday 28 July 1976 issue of Variety, announcing that filming was to begin that day in Rome contained the words, "What better proof that I am God. I have a husband. And a wife. I am all that is and shall ever be." However, when the film was finally released three years later, after numerous re-writes and re-edits, no mention of Caligula's husband, let alone his much reported homosexual tendencies, was included in the final product.
* It is believed that over 2,500 people took part in the making of the movie, including actors, extras, carpenters, artisans, caterers.
* According to a 1981 behind-the-scenes documentary, because of the controversial nature of the film, members of the international press were prohibited from entering the studio during filming.
* At least two sequences were created completely in the editing room:
o In the original conception, three men were seen talking and bathing in red mud. They are startled when Caligula first appears in the hallway outside Tiberius's pool. As Caligula walks down the hall, we see fragments of tortures that occur on the other side of the curtain. In the movie, the scene with the three men was moved *after* Nerva's death, and entirely new dialogue was dubbed over the shot, making it appear that the men are discussing Nerva's recent death and Tiberius's imminent death. They appear to be startled, then there is a cut to Caligula across the palace, fantasizing about torture, intercut with the fragments of tortures that were meant to be about 15 minutes earlier in the film.
o Unused bits from the scene where Chaerea, Longinus, and a few senators discuss the possibility of Caligula dying from a fever were used to build a new scene toward the end of the film where (it appears) the men plot Caligula's murder. Almost all of the dialogue in this scene was invented in the dubbing stages, and most shots obscure the mouths of each speaker.
* When Nino Baragli and Bob Guccione cut the film together, several scenes were truncated and cut into the film in a seemingly random order. A few examples of scenes made fragmented in editing:
o The opening is a fragment of a scene that was meant to occur immediately following Tiberius's death (this is why Caligula is clean shaven in this scene, but has a beard in the next). It was supposed to depict Caligula and Drusilla enjoying their new freedom as they no longer need to worry about being seen by Tiberius's informers. The scene is almost certainly shorter than it was intended to be, and thus is now a meaningless fragment.
o The scene that was meant to be the opening is cut in half and moved around. In the final cut, the first half of this scene (which depicts Caligula worrying to Drusilla about Tiberius killing him) occurs between Caligula's tour of the grotto and Nerva's suicide. The second half of the scene (where Caligula and Drusilla fool around and are caught by Macro) now immediately follows the opening credits.
o When Caligula and Nerva walk down the path to Tiberius's pool, we can hear people being tortured behind a curtain, which Caligula looks through at one point. The fragments of people being tortured several scenes later were meant to be intercut with the scene of Caligula and Nerva in the hall. Also, several scenes later, we see bodies being taken off crosses and servants clearing the pathway. These were meant to act as establishing shots for the scene in the hall.
o Mixed in the scene on Tiberius's pleasure grotto are shots of an orgy, some of which filmed through mirrors. It's unclear what the purpose of these shots were, but they were obviously not meant for this scene (as they take place in a different room, and, thus, are cutaways to a location across the palace).
o In the scene where Caligula, Caesonia, and Drusilla have sex, the movie includes inserts of a lesbian tryst that was one of the extra scenes shot by Bob Guccione. This footage replaces shots that made this scene necessary for the plot (the original concept had the palace informers looking through the peephole, thus explaining the closeups of the moon face in the bedroom), as well as a different lesbian act featuring the ladies-in-waiting, shot by Tinto Brass.
o The shot of Caligula being scared by a black bird while playing with a rat was originally part of a much longer scene in which he sets up many small chariots for a race to entertain his daughter, and, thus, was also meant to be included somewhere in between the I am God scene and the imperial bordello scene (along with several other cut scenes (such as the sacrificial scene and the scene where Caligula claims himself to be king of the gods) and relocated scenes (such as Proculus's death)).
* Several different versions of the film have been circulated, leading to much confusion as to the "uncut" version: - The official "uncut" version runs at 156 minutes and includes about six minutes of re-shoots by Bob Guccione. -A 210 minute version was shown at a private screening at the Cannes Trade Festival and has yet to be unearthed since then. - The film was originally released in the UK with a running time of 149 minutes, removing all hardcore sex footage and included some alternate footage inserted by the distributor. However, the latest UK release (and now legal version) has a PAL running time of 98 minutes, 34 seconds (approximately 102 minutes film/NTSC), and is the same as the older R-rated version in the USA. The original 149 minute cut is now highly sought after. - A 105 minute R-rated version was released in the USA in 1981. This version also used alternate footage and angles in the hardcore sex scenes and during scenes of graphic violence. -In 1984, the film was re-cut and re-released in Italy under the title Io, Caligola. Though originally running at 133 minutes, it was cut to 123 minutes by the Italian censors. When released on home video, some of the hardcore footage shot by Bob Guccione were reinserted into the film. - The second (and current) R-rated version was released in 1999 and used no alternate footage/angles, with the same shots continuously repeating themselves several times to mask the cuts in the film.
* Maria Schneider was originally supposed to play Drusilla and actually started shooting some scenes, but she changed her mind while filming a sex scene with Malcolm McDowell. Deeply disturbed by her skimpy toga and the graphic incest scenes, she walked off the set bad-mouthing the production.
* Although he later sued to have his name removed from the credits, Gore Vidal received $225,000 for his work on the screenplay.
* The principal cast members agreed to do voice re-recording sessions only if Bob Guccione's inserts would be left out of the final cut. He obliged, and the actors worked with a cut of the film that was free of the six minute re-shoots. However, once they were done, Guccione proceeded to add the inserts back into the film.
* John Gielgud was originally offered the role of Tiberius, but declined: he only accepted the smaller part of Nerva after being sent a letter by Gore Vidal.
* After raping Proculus' wife, Caligula was meant to sodomize Proculus himself. Malcolm McDowell refused to do it, and Tinto Brass instead suggested the off-screen fisting which is seen in the movie.
* After the film was released, Anneka Di Lorenzo (aka Marjorie Lee Thoresen, a 1975 Penthouse Pet of the Year), who played Messalina, sued Bob Guccione, saying that his handling of the film, mainly his adding of the hardcore sex inserts, had damaged her acting career by associating her with a hardcore porno film. She won her case, but was awarded only $4.06 in damages.
* The scene where Caligula gets a nervous breakdown during the thunderstorm was written by Malcolm McDowell himself.
* Gore Vidal had originally scripted the role of Drusilla (at least in the very early drafts of the screenplay) for his close friend, Claire Bloom.
* After Maria Schneider's abrupt departure, Katharine Ross was briefly considered for the role of Drusilla, but in the end, after some heavy lobbying by Tinto Brass, Teresa Ann Savoy ended up getting the part.
* The film's screenplay was developed from an unproduced television mini-series treatment, written by Roberto Rossellini.
* The film was a hit at the box office when the number of theaters it played in is taken into account. However, because of its limited run, it was a financial disappointment when compared with the more successful films of the time, even though it broke records in the individual theaters it played in. It since has gone on to become Penthouse's best selling video.
* Despite popular beliefs, Gore Vidal and Tinto Brass did not disown this film because Bob Guccione inserted hardcore sex and graphic violence sequences and changed the point of the film. In reality, only five or six minutes of the 156-minute version of the film was part of Guccione's reshoot - that five or six minutes consists of the lesbian tryst in the secret room, and several inserts in the imperial bordello scene. Everything else was shot by Brass. Vidal disowned the film because Brass and lead actor Malcolm McDowell changed the point of view of his screenplay. Brass disowned it because Guccione locked him out of the editing room (some in the industry suspect it was because Brass didn't want to use Guccione's hardcore inserts) after assembling the first 40 minutes (which was probably disassembled shortly afterward). Guccione then proceeded to edit the film himself, but he often chose shots that were never meant to be included (the many zooms, out-of-focus shots, etc.), and also cut up certain scenes and put them in the wrong order. A prime example of this is Caligula's nightmare scene with Drusilla, which now occurs in a part of the film that would have been quite impossible dramatically, and is actually the first half of an earlier scene, which occurs just after the credits (together, the two scenes were meant to be the opening of the film, and the current opening in which Caligula and Drusilla enjoy a romp through a forest was intended for an entirely different purpose altogether, and was meant to occur much later).
* At one point, Peter Firth was considered for the title role.
* Charlotte Rampling said in an interview that she was also offered a part.
* Contradicting his reputation of acting in mediocre films just for the money, Orson Welles claimed he had declined a role in "Caligula" for "moral reasons" despite a very generous offer.
* Malcolm McDowell claims to have talked Katharine Ross out of taking the role of Drusilla.