Caravaggio (1986)

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A retelling of the life of the celebrated 17th-century painter through his brilliant, nearly blasphemous paintings and his flirtations with the underworld.



(screenplay), (from an original idea by) (as Nicholas Ward-Jackson) , 1 more credit »
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3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Spencer Leigh ...
Scipione Borghese
Cardinal Del Monte
Noam Almaz ...
Dawn Archibald ...
Jack Birkett ...
The Pope
Una Brandon-Jones ...
Weeping Woman
Imogen Claire ...
Lady with the Jewels
Sadie Corre ...
Princess Collona


Fictionalized biopic of famed 17th century Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio. As a young man, he gained the support of Cardinal Del Monte and Caravaggio proceeded to develop a new style of painting giving a more realistic view of the world in which he lived. He also begins love affairs with one of his models, Ranuccio as well as with Ranuccio's girlfriend Lena. Their relationship leads to murder and deceit. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


See all certifications »


Official Sites:




Release Date:

29 August 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Караваджо  »

Box Office


£450,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$532 (USA) (26 April 2002)


$3,151 (USA) (26 April 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Michael Gough was fourth choice for the role of Del Monte. See more »


A typewriter is used, a saxophone is played, a train and steamship hooter are heard. In addition one of the characters plays with a (very advanced for the time of the movie) credit card-sized calculator with beeping buttons. These items are included deliberately as a stylistic decision of the filmmakers, not "goofs" of people unaware of the absence of these items in the 1500s and 1600s. See more »


Caravaggio: [to Ranuccio] Give me your hand.
[puts a ring on Ranucio's hand]
Caravaggio: For eternity and a day.
See more »


Referenced in Jubilee: A Time Less Golden (2003) See more »


By kind permission of Casa Musicale Eco (Milan)
See more »

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User Reviews

21 October 2003 | by See all my reviews

Few moviegoers would know that the real Caravaggio was a convicted criminal and even by today's standards, a hell raiser. Rome's police records list fourteen citations in six years, from public nuisance to several violent assaults. In May of 1606 he murdered a friend, one Ranuccio Tomassoni in a sword fight. Added to these lurid details, his sexual interests show that he freely drifted from the Vatican's ordained model. This makes Caravaggio an interesting person, but a highly complex candidate for a biographic investigation on film.

While Derek Jarman's film captures (with delightful conceit) many of the surface details of Caravaggio's life, it's a work of startling genius because it succeeds on a far more profound level. Jarman tells the story of Caravaggio rather like Caravaggio would paint, infusing it (effortlessly) with the central themes of his life's deepest convictions, creating a portrait which reflects the subject and the artist with equal relevance. What's more, many of the same themes that have been identified with both artists - sexuality, transcendence, violence, censorship, politics (religious/sexual) and the tumultuous source of creative identity are present in both men. It works as very few films do. This is also an unusually accessible film for Derek Jarman. The performances are entertaining and it's filmed with astounding beauty and simplicity. This film is a masterpiece.

However, because of it's homosexual themes and personal tone, "Caravaggio" is likely to be appreciated only by those viewers who weary of film as simple diversion and long for something more challenging. This is a powerful artistic statement, but it flew under the radar during a decade of British film-making where "Gandhi", "Chariots of Fire" and "A Room With A View" represented the best of what was being made. While those films are great in their way, this film value is greater in terms of bravura and personal expression. See it if you can.

70 of 75 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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is this out on dvd? teejay6682
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Script estheleda
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