What's new

Winston T. Boogie

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 31, 2004
Messages
11,495
Location
Agua Verde
Real Name
Pike Bishop
Title: Caligula

Tagline: What would you have done if you had been given absolute power of life and death over everybody else in the whole world?

Genre: Drama, History, Romance

Director: Tinto Brass, Bob Guccione, Giancarlo Lui

Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Teresa Ann Savoy, Helen Mirren, Peter O'Toole, John Gielgud, Paolo Bonacelli, Guido Mannari, Giancarlo Badessi, John Steiner, Bruno Brive, Anneka Di Lorenzo, Adriana Asti, Mirella D'Angelo

Release: 1979-01-21

Runtime: 156

Plot: The perversion behind imperial Rome, the epic story of Rome's mad Emporer. All the details of his cruel, bizarre reign are revealed right here: His unholy sexual passion for his sister, his marriage to Rome's most infamous prostitute, his fiendishly inventive means of disposing those who would oppose him, and more.

 

Thomas Newton

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 16, 1999
Messages
2,301
Real Name
Thomas Newton
I came across Roger Ebert's review some time ago, while browsing through reviews in one of his books. His verdict was that "Caligula" was "sickening, utterly worthless, shameful trash" that left him feeling "unspeakably depressed" after he walked out mid-way through.

The review sure didn't make me want to see the film – then, or now.

https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/caligula-1980
 

cinemiracle

Screenwriter
Joined
May 1, 2015
Messages
1,614
Real Name
Peter
I came across Roger Ebert's review some time ago, while browsing through reviews in one of his books. His verdict was that "Caligula" was "sickening, utterly worthless, shameful trash" that left him feeling "unspeakably depressed" after he walked out mid-way through.

The review sure didn't make me want to see the film – then, or now.

https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/caligula-1980
I saw CALIGULA when it was screening in Hollywood in 1979. It was originally banned in Australia but later slightly re-edited from hard core porn to soft core and available uncut in recent decades.A hugely expensive film to make back in 1979.Rather tame on to-day's standards.A film to be seen at least once.Great extras on the dvd special edition .Stunning cinematography.
 

hanshotfirst1138

Second Unit
Joined
May 25, 2007
Messages
284
Real Name
Mike
I’ve always been morbidly curious about this film, but I’m not sure I have the stomach for it, and there really isn’t any place to rent it anyway. Which version should I watch if I ever do?
 

Colin Jacobson

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2000
Messages
13,218
The original uncut version is by no means “rather tame” today. It’s a movie that oozes depravity and other bodily substances.

Agree.

I first saw it in the 80s when in college. I actually missed a midnight screening that my friends attended - I went home for that weekend. They all told me how insane the movie was and how graphic it was.

I rented it and couldn't figure out what the fuss was about - because I'd rented the R-rated version.

Eventually I saw the unrated one and got the outcry!

I don't see how a movie in which they show a guy's dick get cut off and fed to a dog could be "tame"!
 

Winston T. Boogie

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 31, 2004
Messages
11,495
Location
Agua Verde
Real Name
Pike Bishop
The original uncut version is by no means “rather tame” today. It’s a movie that oozes depravity and other bodily substances.

I'm not sure which version to call "uncut" because the version that was "uncut" was whatever Brass was trying to do, the version with the porn inserts added is really the cut version because those were cut into the picture without the consent of the director. Also this is one of those pictures where I'm not sure how many cuts of this film there are. It seems like at least a few but perhaps more and now as Alex just posted there is a new one coming...which I assume removes the porn inserts and adds footage shot by Brass that follows the Vidal script.
 

Winston T. Boogie

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 31, 2004
Messages
11,495
Location
Agua Verde
Real Name
Pike Bishop


I guess I must have started this thread because I watched the documentary I posted at the top of this thread. Interesting.

Well, the thing about this picture is it is lavishly made with an excellent cast. The versions I have seen of it, and it has been a very long time since I have seen it, are pretty poorly edited. Some of the porn inserts that were added are pretty lousy. One I think is of two random women, that I don't think have any role in what is going on, on a bed having sex with each other. It is haphazardly cut into the film and stops the thing dead in its tracks. Obviously only there so we can see two random women have sex.

I first saw this film in the 1980s. My friends and I were fascinated by the look of the film and things like the moving red wall that chops the heads off of people buried neck deep in the ground. McDowell was someone we wanted to see because of A Clockwork Orange and here he seems to be playing a Roman version of Alex.

It's a nutty film, I am curious to see this new cut and to see if the film can be turned into something better than what it was. I do recall reading people saying it was a better picture than anybody gave it credit for at the time, but if you go back and watch the available versions of it...well...it is kind of a slog. The sets and costumes are wonderful, Interesting to watch the actors in it and to wonder what they may have thought they were making.

Not sure if you can make lemonade from these lemons but it appears they are going to try.
 
Last edited:

Winston T. Boogie

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 31, 2004
Messages
11,495
Location
Agua Verde
Real Name
Pike Bishop
I’ve always been morbidly curious about this film, but I’m not sure I have the stomach for it, and there really isn’t any place to rent it anyway. Which version should I watch if I ever do?

Well, it looks like this new edit will remove some of and tone down the gore while also removing the porn scenes. So, maybe this will be the version to see, if you have three hours you want to spend on a 1970s shot picture about Caligula.
 

Winston T. Boogie

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 31, 2004
Messages
11,495
Location
Agua Verde
Real Name
Pike Bishop
The Spring 2019 issue of Cineaste magazine has a good article about the film. It's not online: https://www.cineaste.com/store/current-issue-fbg3t

Thanks, Bob, I might pick that up. The interesting thing about this new version is that it really, according to the guy working on it, is all new. He is using hours of new footage of alternate takes, takes with less gore, and supposed better takes where the actors did something different than they did in the takes we have seen in the old versions of the film. In one comment there is a claim made that all or nearly all of this three hour cut is new footage.

Basically, I think there are two groups of people that will have an interest in this picture, one group that wants to see a big budget porn film with well known actors in it (even though the well known actors do not take part in the porn scenes) and people curious to see a big budget Roman epic where no expense was spared.

So, this new cut seems aimed at the second audience because it sounds like the porn and the much of the gore will be gone.
 

Jonathan Perregaux

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 10, 1999
Messages
2,008
Real Name
Jonathan Perregaux
I've never heard of a film reconstruction where not a single frame of the original cut was used. It's all alternate footage, plus CGI set extensions. Sounds intriguing.


Caligula MMXX

Though—and I'm being honest here—please give us all the Guccione porno as a bonus feature, lol...
 
Last edited:

Winston T. Boogie

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 31, 2004
Messages
11,495
Location
Agua Verde
Real Name
Pike Bishop
Though—and I'm being honest here—please give us all the Guccione porno as a bonus feature, lol...

It seems like this effort is to rescue the picture from being thought of as porn. It was not going to be a porn film when they set out to make it. I've seen the film several times, in high school it seemed a picture a lot of people wanted to see. I watched it again when it got a DVD and Blu release (the quality of these releases seems to be said to be terrible in regards to both image and sound).

Here's the funny thing about the porn in the film, I can't really recall any of it. I do recall this one scene of two women on a bed having sex, I mentioned it above, but can't remember much about that other than it had nothing to do with anything else in the picture and just seemed so randomly inserted as to be totally ridiculous. I know when Caligula turns the place into a brothel and there is a big orgy there were tiny snippets of a few people actually having sex added but I recall them as being very brief. There may have been a scene of a bunch of guys masturbating onto an older unattractive woman in a tub, but I think that scene may have been removed in some of the versions I saw including the porn ones. I don't know, I just recall the porn bits were pretty bad did not help the picture, and in some cases made the film a lot worse due to how they effected the pacing...the two women on a bed scene I recall being particularly intrusive.

I can't remember any other porn clips in the film. So, I am not really sure how much Guccione added. I do basically recall the editing of the picture seemed somewhat messed up. I assumed later that was because Guccione took the scissors to it and stuck the porn bits in. It was not a picture with good flow or story.

I guess my point is, completists may want the porn clips included but I don't think they were very good or memorable...because I can't remember them. So, I could see them leaving all that out of this release because I think they are selling this release on the idea it is "not a porn" but rather a grand independently made Roman epic with all kinds of talent involved. None of the big names took part in any porn so the people that thought they would see big name actors having sex were quite disappointed.
 

David_B_K

Advanced Member
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2006
Messages
2,568
Location
Houston, TX
Real Name
David
I saw this film once about a year or two after it was released. It was shown at the River Oaks theater here in Houston. It was the "uncut" version with all the porn scenes. The version I saw included the guys masturbating onto the woman (an ancient skin treatment?). I remember the scene with the two women going at it and that it did not seem to have anything to do with anything. As I recall most of the hardcore sex scenes were during a big orgy scene near the end.

I agree with Ebert's review of the film. It had no pacing and there was nothing compelling about the story. In the scene linked above between O'Toole, Gielgud and McDowell, it is poorly staged and acted, and looks and sounds like it was from a work print rather than a final cut. I remember a contemporary review that said something like "this film will leave you gasping for air and 13 episodes of I, Claudius". I tend to agree.

I can't see a reason for making an entire film about Caligula. The only point of such a movie is that he was an insane and depraved asshole. The story can only progress from one shocking depravity to another. At least in I, Claudius the story was about the decline in morality and quality of the Roman Emperors who succeeded Augustus,; so we saw things getting worse when Tiberius ascended, then worse with Caligula, then a bit better with Claudius only to see him murdered and replaced with Nero. The 1979 movie was allegedly about how "absolute power corrupts". This could have been a good theme because most of the out of control emperors like Caligula and Nero were basically flaunting their depravity and enjoying the fact that they shocked and humiliated and debased their fellow Roman aristocrats.

Interestingly, Caligula and Nero enjoyed popularity among the populace. Their cruel and outlandish behavior was directed at the upper Patrician and Plebeian classes, while the capiti censi knew nothing about it and enjoyed all the public games and chariot races, etc.
 

Winston T. Boogie

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 31, 2004
Messages
11,495
Location
Agua Verde
Real Name
Pike Bishop
I can't see a reason for making an entire film about Caligula. The only point of such a movie is that he was an insane and depraved asshole. The story can only progress from one shocking depravity to another.

I think that is the reason they made it. While I can't recall the porn, I do recall the violence in the picture was pretty intense. That and Malcolm McDowell being totally off the wall and acting as if it was Alex from A Clockwork Orange playing the part not him. McDowell's smirking, "I'm enjoying every minute of this depravity!" made a bunch of high school kids laugh. He's at 11 throughout, in the Spinal Tap sense. Really, who can do smirking depravity better than Mr. McDowell.

These are the memorable bits. When they tie off the guy's johnson and then make him guzzle wine until he is about to burst...then they kill him in a most gruesome fashion, that sticks with you.
 

Matt Hough

Reviewer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2006
Messages
26,107
Location
Charlotte, NC
Real Name
Matt Hough
I saw it back in the day and was utterly disappointed given the talent of the actors involved. Having seen I, Claudius before seeing this, I was expecting the same level of storytelling only with (hopefully) some higher grade pornographic sequences abetting it, but it was just dull and completely uninvolving.
 
Movie information in first post provided by The Movie Database

Users who are viewing this thread

Latest Articles

Forum statistics

Threads
356,486
Messages
5,113,874
Members
144,100
Latest member
wilsonvn
Recent bookmarks
0
Top