6.7/10
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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:

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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 QI: Adam (2003) 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

Strange, artistic, memorable
7 March 1999 | by ScoopySee all my reviews

This is not a mainstream movie. You may be very distracted by the presence of jokey 20th century anachronisms in this otherwise grave movie about the artistic genius, Caravaggio. 17th century merchants use hand-held calculators, modern instruments play at the parties, local scribes use typewriters, servants dress in modern dinner jackets. I sure don't know what it all means. I guess you can impute many meanings to it.

You may also be irritated by the director in his insistence that everyone is motivated by homoerotic impulses. This facet of the presentation is really more about Derek Jarman than Caravaggio.

Well, I'm not sure that the movie has much to say about Caravaggio at all. After all, Caravaggio shocked his era with his revisionist hagiography - saints with peasant faces, torn clothes and dirty fingernails - probably realistic but iconoclastic in its time, and contrary to a century of previous tradition. Moreover, Caravaggio almost invented the modern system of a consistently represented light source, showing the actual impact of light on his subjects. These key points are barely touched by the script.

But I think you probably should just let those irritations wash over you, and accept the movie for what it is. It uses the style and mood of his paintings to reflect his life, and it incorporates that precise aesthetic into the movie's own visuals. The movie looks like what Caravaggio's own moving pictures might have looked like if he could have created them in 1600.

Is it a good movie? Who knows? It's not so well remembered after a decade or so, but it exhibits a memorable gift for creating and sustaining a mood, and for breathing life into Caravaggio's canvases. It also speculates about the everyday life that must have circulated around the creation of those masterpieces.

I was willing to forgive a lot of artistic pretension and rhetorical dialogue for the superb visuals and atmosphere, and I took vivid memories away from the film. You may feel the same way.


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