6.7/10
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25 user 23 critic

Caravaggio (1986)

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

Michael Gough was fourth choice for the role of Del Monte. 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 The Gospel According to St Derek (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

El Niño de Almadén
By kind permission of Harmonia Mundi (Le Chant du Monde)
See more »

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User Reviews

Brave, gorgeous, self-indulgent, and completely relevant
3 September 2011 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

Caravaggio (1986)

It's easy to be frustrated by movie that seems by its title to be one thing but is so clearly something else. This is no bio-pic of the great artist. It doesn't even create (to me) a more abstract sense of what it might have meant to be such an artist, or to be creative and tormented and a scrappy, sometimes ill man.

Instead it's a movie that uses some themes, and some paintings, of Caravaggio and builds a completely invented (to my knowledge) story line. For one thing, it's set in some fairly recent time--the 1920s or 30s, perhaps? And it's highly highly British, which is no flaw, but it feels part of a 1980s London underground in the expressions and vocabulary. If you can open up to all that, you've made a first step. If you can't, forget it. Run to another version (like the terrific new Italian one from 2007).

The second step is key, too, however, for many of you. This is an overtly homo-erotic, or at least homosexually charged fantasy. It has no overt sex (though there is lots of kissing all around) and it does includes some female actors (including a fabulous Tilda Swinton), but there are lots of "pretty boy" scenes and a sensibility that is just frankly different than the usual film world mainstream.

That's a great thing. That doesn't however make the movie completely work. It's worth watching if you are prepared for its tone, and it's brilliant in some sense, utterly original, a kind of high production value, high culture flip side to the films of Andy Warhol (if that makes any sense at all). There are excesses in violence, bloody, death, love, corporal pleasure and corporal torture--but these are exactly what the 1980s were all about. Think of Robert Mapplethorpe.

It's not my own world at all, but I found it a kind of thrill to see made so rich and colorful, so unexpected every turn. And so photographically beautiful. It is at times disturbing and moving, but mostly it is pretty and fascinating. It lacks a more usual structure, but you get used to that and learn to like it.


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