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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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Cast overview, first billed only:
Spencer Leigh ...
Scipione Borghese
Cardinal Del Monte
Noam Almaz ...
Dawn Archibald ...
Jack Birkett ...
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?


Tilda Swinton's debut. 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 »


Young Caravaggio: The price of the painting is my knife.
See more »


Referenced in Incident at Loch Ness (2004) See more »


El Niño de Almadén
By kind permission of Harmonia Mundi (Le Chant du Monde)
See more »

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User Reviews

Beautiful to look at, but lacking a third dimension
23 February 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

What we know of Caravaggio suggests a strutting brawler with a healthy sense of entitlement who lived amongst whores and thieves and hustlers and put them on canvas. His works' themes were sex, death, redemption, above all, finding the sacred within the profane. He lived at a time where homosexuality carried a death sentence and political intrigue normally involved fatalities in a society defined by the maxim "strangling the boy for the purity of his scream".

You can't fault Derek Jarman for his cinematography, nor his recreations of Caravaggio's paintings and you certainly can't accuse the man of shying away from the homosexuality. But frankly, Jarman never strays beyond 80s caricature. Italian patronage becomes the 80s London art scene complete with pretty waiters and calculators. Sean Bean is a sexy bit of Northern rough oiling his motorbike. Tilda Swinton performs a transformation worthy of a Mills and Boons ("Why, Miss Lena, without that gypsy headscarf, you're beautiful..."). Jarman provides Caravaggio with a particularly trite motive for the murder which left him exiled.

This could have been a visually stunning treatment of a man whose life was dangerous, exciting, violent and decadent but who nonetheless elevated the lives of ordinary people to the status of Renaissance masterpieces, looked on by Emperors and Kings. Instead, what you get is Pierre et Gilles do Italy. The pretty bodies of young boys are shown to perfection, but never the men who inhabit them. Jarman appears to satirise the London art scene, showing it shallow and pretentious. To use Caravaggio and Renaissance Italy to make the point is to use a silk purse to make a pig's ear. In fairness, this film remains visually stunning, but ultimately as two dimensional as the paintings it describes.

20 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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is this out on dvd? teejay6682
It was kinda difficult to me hsspg
the contortionist actress, who is she? byllyrs
Soundtrack? akaffircat
Script estheleda
Typewriter??????? jennoua_1984
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