Sunday, August 28, 2011

Caligula - 1979

"Caligula: the Imperial Edition" - 1979
Dir. by Tinto Brass, Bob Guccione, and Giancarlo Lui - 1 hr. 41 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

Well, it looks like the version of "Caligula" I watched was the most heavily-edited version.  I'm not sure that more of the sort of thing that was cut would make much of a difference in the quality of this movie, and I'm not certain I would have even finished a version that was a full hour longer.

"Caligula" straddles an odd line - somewhere between a historical epic and a full-on porno film.  It's a bad combination; if you want titillation, you're going to be very frustrated by the extended plot sequences.  If you want a historical epic (albeit a graphic, baudy one), at some point you'll probably want Caligula to stop molesting his sister (just kidding, it's totally consentual here) and get on with the plot.  Also, the constant need to have half-dressed or naked people in virtually every scene is kind of giggle-worthy.  I mean, if you were going to break rocks with a pick-axe with a gang of other men, even if you thought that letting your doodle flap in the wind was safe (and you could get OSHA to agree), you still might want a pair of shoes or sandals or something.

So let's get into the plot, since I was deprived of all the truly graphic material.  Tiberius Caesar (Peter O'Toole) is old and dying, so Caligula (Malcolm McDowell) decides to help him achieve death in a more timely fashion (but not with his own hands, because he's kind of prissy that way).  With Tiberius dead, Caligula is the new Caesar, and is free to shape Rome in whatever way he desires (which would lead back to the aforementioned incestual relationship with his sister, Drusilla).  Caligula quickly turns out to be a somewhat unreliable choice, which is amplified by the death of his sister.  Ultimately, he is killed and replaced as Caesar.  But pretty much everyone is either half-naked or surrounded by fully naked people all along the way.

And yeah, "Caligula" is pretty much just as bad as it sounds.  Even with the copius nudity as enticement to make it through, eventually my eyes grew numb to all the flesh, and all that was left was Malcom McDowell prancing around all over the place, with Helen Mirren looking on lustily.  I kind of feel like that, having suffered through the meat of the movie, there ought to be a version consisting ONLY of the pornographic and soft-core elements that I can be rewarded with, without the distraction of Caligula trying to bang his sister over and over again breaking up the more salacious elements of the story.  Without that disc of bonus material, there's not much point to this film at all.

1 / 5 - NF Streaming

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