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Caligula (1979)

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


Tinto Brass


Gore Vidal (adapted from an original screenplay by), Masolino D'Amico
609 ( 53)
2 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Malcolm McDowell ... Caligula
Teresa Ann Savoy ... Drusilla
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


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 Drusilla, organizes elaborate orgies, and embarks on a fruitless invasion of Britain before meeting an appropriate end. There are various versions of this movie, ranging from the heavily-truncated 90-minute version to the legendary 2-hour-40-minute hardcore version which leaves nothing to the imagination--though the hardcore scenes were inserted later and did not involve the main cast members. Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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


Drama | History


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


A Yugoslavian stallion named "Davide" was cast as Caligula's horse, Incitatus. See more »


Caligula gives the "thumbs up" gesture several times to indicate his approval, however in Roman times this gesture indicated death. An Emperor would give the thumb up gesture to signal that a defeated gladiator should be condemned to death. See more »


[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.
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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

When the film was first released in the United Kingdom, it was trimmed down to about 150 minutes (in PAL speed) and included some alternate footage to replace the most explicit shots during the following scenes:
  • Tiberius' grotto.
  • Ennia's "beauty treatment."
  • The sexual ritual dance at the Temple of Isis.
  • Caligula's rape of Proculus and Livia.
  • The infamous lesbian tryst.
  • The Imperial Bordello sequence.
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Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Hercules (2014) See more »


Written by Aram Khachaturyan
Conducted by Bruno Nicolai
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User Reviews

A tasteless and overblown farrago despite the presence of great actor as Gielgud, O'Toole, McDowell, and Helen Mirren
6 September 2008 | by Nazi_Fighter_DavidSee all my reviews

The film builds around one of the most notoriously decadent of the Roman emperors, Caligula… The movie covers his rise to power, his four-year rule, and his bloody assassination… His vile deeds include crashing a wedding and sexually abusing the bride and groom, playing erotic fantasies with his sister (who is also his lover) and turning the Imperial Palace into an exclusive brothel…

For a really big-money film, the treatment of the sexual scenes is daringly explicit, but somehow the obsession with it makes the film uneven… It blends very good actors, O'Toole and McDowell, with some simple-minded Penthouse models… The overall effect is disappointing...

Guccione does deserve a hand for the exquisite sets, costumes, production values, and very fine cinematography

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Italy | USA



Release Date:

15 February 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Caligula See more »


Box Office


$17,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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

Sound Mix:

Mono (original release)


Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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