The tumultuous and adventurous life of Michelangelo Merisi, controversial artist, called by Fate to become the immortal Caravaggio. A violent genius that will dare to defy the ideal vision ... See full summary »
The tumultuous and adventurous life of Michelangelo Merisi, controversial artist, called by Fate to become the immortal Caravaggio. A violent genius that will dare to defy the ideal vision of the world imposed by the Renaissance painters. A provoker that scandalized patrons and institutions, raising the altars the outcast figures he knew so well: drunkards, vagrants and prostitutes. Written by
Caravaggio (2007) (TV) is an Italian film directed by Angelo Longoni. I watched the two-part DVD version, which is 211 minutes long. (Another reviewer mentioned a 151-minute large-screen version.)
Alessio Boni stars as Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, the great Italian Baroque painter. The film is a high-end production, with a huge cast, lavish sets, many location shots in Milan, Rome, Naples, Sicily, and Malta, and beautiful costumes.
I have studied Caravaggio's life and his art, and I think one great strength of the movie is its repeated--and accurate--emphasis on the artist's preference for painting from models, rather than just from sketches.
Also, several of Caravaggio's paintings are "created" while we watch. The ability of the director to find models who look like the men and women in the (real) paintings is uncanny. I've seen many of those paintings, and the actors in the movie truly resemble the people portrayed on the painter's canvas.
As is clear in the movie, as well as in art history books, Caravaggio lived a wild, dissolute, and violent life. However, the movie is possibly more sympathetic to the artist than is historically justified. Rather than as a simple street brawler and murderer, Caravaggio is depicted as a basically decent human being who just happens to have a problem controlling his temper. Most of the duels he fights and the brawls in which he participates are set off by insults to his art or to one of his lovers. He's portrayed as a sort of Italian Cyrano de Bergerac, who only fights to avenge insults and wrongs.
I had some problems with the film. Many of the characters looked similar enough to each other that I had difficulty sorting out which was which. (Is that dark-haired guy his true friend, his false friend, or his enemy?) All the women portrayed are incredibly beautiful. Granted, the high-class courtesans that Caravaggio used as his models were beautiful, but what about the prostitutes on the streets and in the taverns? I'm certain that some of them looked worn, sick, and aged.
Also, the film obliquely suggests the painter's bisexuality, but never really confronts this sexual orientation. Surely, in 2007, audiences could deal with a man's sexual encounters with another man. The film hints at these, but only deals with Caravaggio's heterosexual liaisons.
Despite these shortcomings, I really enjoyed the movie. It would have worked better on the large screen, but it's worth seeing on DVD. If you love art, you must see this film. If you don't love art, you must see this film so that you can learn what you're missing!
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?