6.7/10
4,467
25 user 25 critic
A retelling of the life of the celebrated 17th-century painter through his brilliant, nearly blasphemous paintings and his flirtations with the underworld.

Director:

Derek Jarman

Writers:

Derek Jarman (screenplay), Nicholas Ward Jackson (from an original idea by) (as Nicholas Ward-Jackson)

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3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Nigel Terry ... Caravaggio
Sean Bean ... Ranuccio
Garry Cooper ... Davide
Dexter Fletcher ... Young Caravaggio
Spencer Leigh Spencer Leigh ... Jerusaleme
Tilda Swinton ... Lena
Nigel Davenport ... Giustiniani
Robbie Coltrane ... Scipione Borghese
Michael Gough ... Cardinal Del Monte
Noam Almaz Noam Almaz ... Boy Caravaggio
Dawn Archibald Dawn Archibald ... Pipo
Jack Birkett Jack Birkett ... The Pope
Una Brandon-Jones Una Brandon-Jones ... Weeping Woman
Imogen Claire Imogen Claire ... Lady with the Jewels
Sadie Corre Sadie Corre ... Princess Collona
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Storyline

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


Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Zeitgeist Films

Country:

UK

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

29 August 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Караваджо See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

£450,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$532, 26 April 2002, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,151, 28 April 2002
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sean Bean's first on-screen death scene. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Caravaggio: [after being stabbed by Ranuccio Caravaggio touches the wound and blood] Blood brothers!
[Ranucchio kisses him]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits scroll down the screen (top-to-bottom). See more »

Connections

Referenced in Jubilee: A Time Less Golden (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

SCICILIAN WORK SONGS
By kind permission of Lyrichord Discs, Inc. (New York)
See more »

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User Reviews

A typically imaginative and highly idiosyncratic examination of the artist from director Derek Jarman
20 March 2008 | by ThreeSadTigersSee all my reviews

Quite simply unlike any other biographical film you will ever see, Derek Jarman's acclaimed production of Caravaggio (1986) is a lovingly constructed, highly personal cross-reference of tormented sixteenth century genius, twentieth century iconography and a somewhat satire on the shallowness of the burgeoning eighties' art scene of which Jarman was very much part of. Exploring Caravaggio's life through his work, the film distinctively merges fact, fiction, legend and imagination in a bold and confident approach that will probably leave serious art enthusiasts and casual viewers outraged by the complete disregard for accurate, historical storytelling.

Shot with a typically avant-garde approach, director/writer Jarman doesn't so much fashion a biography of the artist, but rather, creates a personal reflection of the man using intimate characteristics that appeal to his film-making sensibilities. This makes Caravaggio more of an interpretation of the filmmaker than the artist himself; somewhat self-indulgently focusing on Caravaggio's struggle with bisexuality, perfectionism and wanton obsession; perhaps even glossing over the more intricate workings of the character, for instance, his own passion for art and his battles with the various religious and creative constraints of the period.

It's a shame some of these ideas aren't further elaborated upon, because, at its heart, Caravaggio is really an exceptional film. As I commented earlier, it's perhaps unlike any other film you will ever see; an iconoclastic vision with a cinematic imagination that knows no bounds. Caravaggio is a film in which a 16th century setting gives way to the various anachronisms of passing trains, tuxedos, motorbikes, typewriters and chic nightclub settings. It is a film in which every frame is rendered in reference to the artist's work, composed with rich, shadowy colours that bring to mind the contrast between fresh and rotting fruit, and an unrivalled interplay between sound and production design that is reminiscent in its intense savagery of two dogs angrily ripping each other to pieces.

There is no other 'based on fact film' that has demonstrated such a wild and evocative recreation of real-life hysteria and events, with the possible exception of Peter Jackson's masterful Heavenly Creatures (1994) or even some of Jarman's subsequent projects like Edward II (1991) and Wittgenstein (1994). With a cast of now very well known faces, such as Nigel Terry, Sean Bean, Tilda Swinton, Michael Gough, Dexter Fletcher and Robbie Coltrane - not to mention some of the most beautiful photography ever committed to film - Caravaggio represents an impressive and enjoyable combination of art and cinema that is now, twenty years on, ripe for rediscovery.


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