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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 25,487 users  
Reviews: 283 user | 128 critic

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

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, (uncredited) , 1 more credit »

Writer:

(original screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Teresa Ann Savoy ...
Guido Mannari ...
...
...
Giancarlo Badessi ...
Bruno Brive ...
...
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 Britain 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) | (original)

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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:
  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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).


  • 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.


  • 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)).


See more »

Goofs

Many naked women have dim but visible tan lines, mostly around their hip area. However, topless sunbathing was then a thing of the future. 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

The opening credits of the Russian release mistakenly list Tinto Brass as the "camera operator," while Bob Guccione and Giancarlo Lui are given the honour of being listed as the "directors." See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Violent Shit (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Adagio Of Spartacus And Phrygia
Aram Khachaturyan
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Beyond the controversy lies a good film
6 February 2000 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

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.


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