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Caravaggio (Special Edition)

38 customer reviews

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(Jun 24, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Stewing in Rome's underbelly during the late Italian Renaissance, Michelangelo da Caravaggio was plucked from the streets by the Catholic Church to paint austere Biblical exaltations. Derek Jarman masterfully captures not only his rampant flirtations with Roman counterculture, but also beautifully saturates this film with the same delicate attention to the chiaroscuro techniques the painter so expertly crafted. Starring 2007 Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton, The Chronicles of Narnia) in her debut film role, Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings), and Nigel Terry (Excalibur) in the title role, Caravaggio is a lush re-imagining of the volatile life of the 17th-century painter and his brilliant, nearly blasphemous paintings.

- Restored anamorphic transfer, created from Hi-Def elements
- Video interviews with actress Tilda Swinton, actor Nigel Terry and production designer Christopher Hobbs
- Audio commentary by cinematographer Gabriel Beristain
- Rare audio and video interviews with Derek Jarman
- Storyboard, notebook, production photo and design sketch galleries
- Original theatrical trailer
- English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
- Liner notes by film critic/producer Colin MacCabe


"Spectacular, painterly camerawork. The mood is much like that of Caravaggio's paintings--brooding, sensual, pagan in the extreme." --Newsweek

"Flashes of ingenuity and visual brilliance. A pleasure to look at!" --The New York Times

"[Jarman's] long-gestated, deeply personal biopic of the complex, unaccomodated homosexual painter, is his masterpiece." --The Guardian (UK)

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Tilda Swinton, Sean Bean
  • Directors: Derek Jarman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Zeitgeist Films
  • DVD Release Date: June 24, 2008
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0016QNSFG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,604 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 60 people found the following review helpful By laguna_greg on May 29, 2008
Format: DVD
I remember seeing this film in theaters when it first came out. I was so struck by the shadowy drama and sparkling wit of the imagery that I dragged EVERYONE I KNEW to see it. They still have my fingermarks on their arms.

Jarman's film is not a biography in the strict sense. Rather, he uses Caravaggio's paintings and a loose chronology of events as a point of departure to present his own musings on art, love, sexuality and its politics. The photography is painterly in the best sense of the word and evokes the period acutely. The cast, a director's dream by any standard, is splendid. Tilda Swindon absolutely glows on screen, Sean Bean is as feral as a tomcat, and Nigel Terry is believably world-weary and laconic, a prisoner of his vision, his debauchery, and the unfolding destiny the intersection of the two character traits dictates.

Jarman makes excellent use of anachronistic elements in the film to point out the relevance of those issues to the present day. My favorite scene shows a Vatican functionary, wearing nothing but his nightcap, sitting in a porcelain bathtub and typing on a manual the 15th century! The witticisms are unmistakeable and very ably presented. Ironically, they make the whole film seem even more convincingly Baroque.

Video was the last time this film was available, and I'm very glad that someone had the nerve to reissue it on DVD. It is a very long time coming.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 29, 2009
Format: DVD
That's biographical fiction - although Jarman started with a solid core of historical truth about this brilliant brawler, the film contains at least as much speculation and interpolation as actual fact.

Much of it works well. The film's stark contrasts of light and dark echo Caravaggio's own innovation in chiaroscuro. Numerous anachronisms appear as well, including cars, calculators, and modern clothing. Like the film's contrasts, these reiterate the anachronisms tha Caravaggio put into his paintings. Although jarring at first, these blends of era add to the movie's quirky charm.

Male homosexuality appears repeatedly in Jarman's career, so it's no surprise that Jarman makes the most of the allegations about Caravaggio's orientation. In fact, that offers a major motivation for some of the most dramatic events near the end of this movie - events that form around Tilda Swinton in her first movie role. This brings me to something I found odd in this movie (I mean odd even by this movie's standards): Nigel Terry plays his Caravaggio with an understatement that doesn't always match the magnitude of the events around him. Perhaps a poker face would have suited the dangerous circles in which Caravaggio travelled; perhaps Caravaggio was meant to express himself through his art.

The result shouldn't be taken as genuine history. Still, it creates an enjoyable drama in homage to this brilliant but eccentric and enigmatic painter.

-- wiredweird
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By KerrLines on March 29, 2008
Format: VHS Tape
Rarely would I ever say that 5 stars is not sufficient to express the magnitude of greatness that I see in a film, but Derek Jarman's CARAVAGGIO, the director's homage to the late Baroque painter, his life, his view of art, his sexuality and his struggle with life versus art, staggered my mind with the intense detail and love with which Jarman treats this interesting and tortured artist. The film's director and the film's subject is beest summed up in Caravaggio's quote while painting; "All art is against lived expression. How can you compare flesh and blood against pigment?!!....I have trapped pure spirit in matter!" This was the creed and the mission, almost Holy Grail of Caravaggio, as well as the late Jarman; to take life and mimic art, and to make art mimic life!

Writer/director Derek Jarman and Italian masterpiece artist Michaelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) cannot and will not be separated in this film. The director and the artist are soulmates in life and art, 400 years apart in time, but indelibly linked in common purpose in life and purpose. Jarman, always the provacateur in film sees Caravaggio the same as himself; struggling against all convention, religion, and social norm to capture the human spirit on canvas and on film. Jarman honours Caravaggio's famous figures that illuminate out of the blackened background of the canvas rendering all of the film's scenes in that same spirit.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By komadori on August 11, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
Of all the Derek Jarman films I've yet come across, this is my favorite. I say this with reservation: Jarman is hard to like, not merely because his movies are stocked with gratuitous nudity and sex, not merely because he goes into overkill with lighting imagery (never thought I could say that about anyone), and not merely because he never had the money to use a proper set.

Those are reasons enough, I'll give. Most of the time, Jarman just seems to be in a different world. I hated what he did to "Edward II", but I must admit that the stills from the movie are themselves exquisite pieces of art. There's lots of moments that could be set aside from "Caravaggio", and appreciated alone. That's I think Jarman's greatest talent. Every scene is brimming with symbolism, light imagery, poetry and painstaking posing.

Jarman is a neat combination of underwhelming production and overwhelming camp. Often times his direction sets apart puerile categories of "good" and "evil". That's where the lighting imagery usually comes in. Worse yet, his movies are often boring.

In spite of these faults, Jarman still does things that I find worthwhile. Sincerity, for one. Even if he never really makes sense, or if he thinks that he's reaching some new art form, it's obvious that Jarman honestly cares for his work. His scripts are laden with outrageously vulgar love poetry, and his characters deliver them in dreamlike dazes, unperturbed and not really trying to shock.

People, similar, can be crass and sentimental in the same breath.

Typical Jarman, "Caravaggio" is bold, crass, sexual, and tragic. The surprise ending was a surprise strength in terms of complexing the plot and themes.
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