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Caligula (1979)

Unrated  |   |  Adult, Drama, History  |  15 February 1980 (USA)
5.2
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Ratings: 5.2/10 from 25,040 users  
Reviews: 281 user | 125 critic

Details the graphic and shocking, yet undeniably tragic story of Rome's most infamous Caesar, Gaius Germanicus Caligula.

Directors:

, (uncredited) , 1 more credit »

Writer:

(original screenplay)
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Title: Caligula (1979)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Teresa Ann Savoy ...
Guido Mannari ...
...
...
Giancarlo Badessi ...
Bruno Brive ...
Adriana Asti ...
Leopoldo Trieste ...
Paolo Bonacelli ...
John Steiner ...
...
Livia (as Mirella Dangelo)
...
Rick Parets ...
Mnester (as Richard Parets)
Paula Mitchell ...
Subura Singer
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Storyline

The rise and fall of the notorious Roman Emperor Caligula, showing the violent methods that he employs to gain the throne, and the subsequent insanity of his reign - he gives his horse political office and humiliates and executes anyone who even slightly displeases him. He also sleeps with his sister, organises elaborate orgies and embarks on a fruitless invasion of England before meeting an appropriate end. There are various versions of the film, ranging from the heavily- truncated 90-minute version to the legendary 160-minute hardcore version which leaves nothing to the imagination (though the hardcore scenes were inserted later and do not involve the main cast members). Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

What would you have done if you had been given absolute power of life and death over everybody else in the whole world? See more »

Genres:

Adult | Drama | History

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

|

Release Date:

15 February 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Caligula  »

Box Office

Budget:

$17,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$8,669 (USA) (17 September 1999)

Gross:

$23,438,120 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (R-rated) | (recut) | (re-release)

Sound Mix:

(re-release: 1999)| (original release)

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie was originally set to be a low-budget historical drama film by Gore Vidal and his friend's nephew Franco Rosselini, when both saw that they could not make the film with a extremely low budget, Vidal contacted Bob Guccione for help, Guccione agreed so as long as the movie was included with hardcore sex and nudity to promote his adult magazine, Vidal and Rosselini did not liked the idea at first, but Vidal had promised TIME Magazine to make a movie adaptation of his 1972 screenplay, so they both agreed. See more »

Goofs

Charea proclaims Claudius emperor after killing Caligula and his family. In reality, it was another Praetorian who proclaimed Claudius as emperor; Charea had been planning to kill Claudius as well to eliminate the entire imperial family. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Caligula: I have existed from the morning of the world and I shall exist until the last star falls from the night. Although I have taken the form of Gaius Caligula, I am all men as I am no man and therefore I am a God.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Due to numerous pending lawsuits and settlements at the time of the film's release, no one is technically fully credited for writing and directing the finished film. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Nightmare (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

Adagio
from Spartacus (1960)
Written by Aram Khachaturyan
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Beyond Taste and Decency, Beyond Even Entertainment Value
27 June 2005 | by (Seattle) – See all my reviews

I saw this film at the tender age of 18 with a group of friends. Its reputation had preceded it, and though all my friends were also of legal age, I alone had the courage to enter the video store and actually rent it. We gathered at a house where the parents had left town for the weekend. Though we sat in close proximity to each other, we did not speak or otherwise acknowledge each other's presence. As it turned out, the film both merited and did not merit the anticipatory shame we felt. It did not disappoint in terms of sheer gratuitous content, but it disappointed in every other way.

Caligula attempts to transcend genres by combining a historical epic with a brazen porn flick. It fails miserably in its ambition, subjecting the audience to the worst of both worlds. The film's obvious selling point is its pornographic aspect, and it does indeed provide far more than its share of real, graphic sex. But in setting this sex in the context of Caligula's depraved reign, it dignifies the act even less than the average adult movie. Sex without context might at least be physically pleasurable for the consenting adults involved, but pleasure and perhaps even consent are largely absent from the world of Caligula. In it, sex at best serves as an idle pastime and at worst as an instrument of sadistic domination. In the present day, it is somewhat common to hear words like "sin" and "depravity" used facetiously to describe acts which are enjoyable yet considered taboo according to certain moral or religious perspectives. Caligula takes the viewer beyond the facetiousness by depicting true depravity and demonstrating that no joy or pleasure comes from it.

The historical portions not only fail to meaningfully contextualize the sex, they fail to entertain, enlighten, intrigue, or interest the viewer in any way. They only provide lengthy stretches of unremitting tedium. Rarely has a film proved so boring. The sex, after the initial shock and astonishment fades, only contributes to the overall monotony of the picture.

Rarely do discussions of this film involve its violence. While many films more violent than Caligula have been made, few can rival it in terms of the shock value of its violence. Apparenly, unrelenting barbarity as well as hyper-depraved sexuality characterized Caligula's emperorship. The violence is even less for the faint of heart than the sex.

A review like this will likely generate as much curiosity as it quells. I understand why someone would want to see this film; after all, I myself succumbed to the same curiosity. I simply hope that my review, by plainly describing its lack of redeeming value, will at least give potential viewers the knowledge to make an informed decision about whether to see it or not. My high school criminal justice teacher described police work as "hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror." This statement perfectly describes Caligula. You have been warned.


28 of 49 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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