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Luigi Lo Cascio,
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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
An unexpectedly cut version shown in New York. But still worth it.
Regrettably, the print shown Sunday, June 10, at Film Society of Lincoln Center was a 130-minute cut, not the longer version which had been promised. Unfortunately, the cutting makes a narrative hash of some scenes. A character shows up late in the film, during the Knights of Malta scenes, who is recognized by the painter. "Don't you remember me? When I was a boy, you gave me your sword," presumably the one Caravaggio pointedly refused to part with. Seems a reference to a deleted scene. Also missing is the context which might have clarified a scene involving the execution of Beatrice Cenci and her mother outside Castel San'Angelo, and a dinner conversation which revolves around the crime they were convicted of. The same kind of ham-fisted editing which hobbled the narrative in La Reine Margot, rendering much of Dumas' complex plot incomprehensible by leaving out historical context. That said, the film is worth watching for the visuals alone. The director and Vittorio Storaro do the obligatory tableau vivant shot of a celebrated painting early and get it out of the way. The visuals are ravishing. You would expect masterly use of light and shade, given the subject matter. But remarkable is his photography of water and rain, crucial imagery in the film. More literal than Derek Jarman's film, but still far better than the average bio-pic, avoiding most of the usual clichés and pitfalls. And who knows, maybe some day on DVD we'll get the complete version. But given Storaro's photography, so much better to see it on a big screen. Curiously, it's said elsewhere on IMDb it's a television film, surprising given the scope aspect ratio.
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