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Film Review - Caligula
In my college days, everyone was talking about this movie. Somehow, Penthouse Magazine publisher Bob Guccione had found funding for a motion picture about a Roman Emperor and managed to get several well-known Shakespearean actors to work on it. When the finished product came out, actors like Sir John Gielgud demanded their names be taken off the picture. It was a scandal. Now, several decades later Caligula has hit DVD. I decided to take a look at what all the fuss was about.
One of the great features of DVD over video tape is shear capacity. Producers can get the movie, original trailers, and documentaries on the same disk. In the case of Caligula, the documentary is very telling. It's mostly Writer Gore Vidal, and Guccione talking about this film like it was high-concept art. You would think they had just made Lawrence of Arabia. They didn't. Caligula is not much more than a porn movie with good production values.
And even after you get past that, Caligula as a person isn't worthy of a motion picture. He's not that interesting, and did nothing of note during his life. Vidal spoke in the documentary about this being a film of a man who had the entire world given to him. There are other men who have had this gift, too; several of the Popes for instance, who would have been more interesting.
With the contrast that this picture did not loose millions, you keep thinking of Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate. Like Heaven's Gate, Caligula gives one the impression that it was the play thing for men who desperately needed to convince the world, that they were artists.
Directed by Tinto Brass
Released in 1979
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Reviewed by Mongo