5.3/10
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294 user 136 critic

Caligula (1979)

Caligola (original title)
Unrated | | Drama, History | 15 February 1980 (USA)
Details the graphic and shocking, yet undeniably tragic story of Rome's most infamous Caesar, Gaius Germanicus Caligula.

Director:

Tinto Brass

Writers:

Gore Vidal (adapted from an original screenplay by), Masolino D'Amico
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843 ( 142)

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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Malcolm McDowell ... Caligula
Teresa Ann Savoy ... Drusilla
Guido Mannari Guido Mannari ... Macro
John Gielgud ... Nerva
Peter O'Toole ... Tiberius
Giancarlo Badessi Giancarlo Badessi ... Claudius
Bruno Brive Bruno Brive ... Gemellus
Adriana Asti ... Ennia
Leopoldo Trieste ... Charicles
Paolo Bonacelli ... Chaerea
John Steiner ... Longinus
Mirella D'Angelo ... Livia (as Mirella Dangelo)
Helen Mirren ... Caesonia
Rick Parets Rick Parets ... Mnester (as Richard Parets)
Paula Mitchell 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:

The most controversial film of the 20th century is now the most controversial film of the 21st century. See more »

Genres:

Drama | History

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Italy

Language:

Italian | English

Release Date:

15 February 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Caligula See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$17,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$8,669, 19 September 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$23,438,120
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (R-rated) | (recut) | (re-release) | (original)

Sound Mix:

Mono (original release)

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.95:1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

After this movie was released, Anneka Di Lorenzo (a.k.a. Marjorie Lee Thoresen, a 1975 Penthouse Pet of the Year), who played Messalina, sued Bob Guccione, saying that his handling of the movie, mainly his adding of the hardcore sex inserts, had damaged her acting career by associating her with a hardcore porno movie. She won her case, but was awarded only four dollars and six cents (U.S. currency) in damages. 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

Due to numerous pending lawsuits and settlements at the time of the film's release, no one is technically fully credited for writing and directing the finished film. See more »

Alternate Versions

The censored version of this film has been released of a few occasions in Australia. In March 1981, a censored, R rated release to cinemas was made by Roadshow. Roadshow Home Video subsequently released the same film version to video in September 1984. This version ran for 146 minutes (PAL). It was again re-released by a 'no name' video label in the late 1990's. The censored DVD version appeared in December 2004, released by Warner Vision. The uncut version has only been released on one occasion in Australia. This was the fully uncut, X rated 156 minute PAL version. It was released in January 1985 by 'Palace X Video' - a version that is now an extremely rare collector's item. See more »


Soundtracks

Romeo i Dzhul'yetta
(Romeo and Juliet) (uncredited)
Written by Sergei Prokofiev
Conducted by Bruno Nicolai
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A masterpiece of costume and actuality
19 November 1999 | by novaeonSee all my reviews

I watched this movie the first time the night-before last.. and watched it again last night and again tonight.

This movie is far from pornography... only a few scenes are hardcore, and only a couple of these are even barely erotic. It does not exactly function as an historical epic, either.

The film quality and lighting would make it appear to date from the 1960s.

The script is mediocre. More drama could be added, however we do have to bear in mind that the Romans followed the school of Stoicism.

The acting (including Malcolm McDowell's) is nothing outstanding, with the exception of Peter O'Toole's Tiberius Caesar. He displays tragedy and lunacy, evoking reactions of disgust, sympathy, pity, and compassion. I found myself much more intrigued by his character and wishing the movie was about his decline from wisdom to near-madness, rather than Caligula. It also caused me to desire to learn more and research the actual life of Tiberius.

The film neither condemns, nor condones. That is probably how it should be.

Where this film succeeds monumentally is the costuming and unabridged realism. This is the first film I've seen to have a character wearing a toga like the one Caligula's sister (a design many Roman women actually wore) wears in the opening scene. The depiction of slaves and the acts of love and brutality are well-done. It is not erotic, it is not horrifying. With the hardcore scenes excised (the version i saw was the complete version), I believe this movie should be shown in every high school World History class. For centuries, Western culture has censored and toned-down representations of its Pagan past. The filmmakers must be applauded for attempting to make an honest epic.

I've become very hard to please when it comes to movies. The last movie I actually liked to a strong degree was Amadeus, which I saw two years ago. Despite its flaws, with its sheer amount of action and atmosphere, I believe this movie deserves a 10.


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