The Imperial Edition
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The decadent side of high definition! Before Rome... Before Gladiator... The most controversial film of all time as you've never experienced it before! Combining lavish spectacle and award-winning stars, this landmark production was shrouded in secrecy since its first day of filming. Now, this unprecedented edition presents a more revealing Caligula than ever before, with a high-definition transfer from negative elements and hours of never-before-seen bonus material!
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Top customer reviews
This marvellous 3 disc DVD set contains fascinating documentaries featuring extensive interviews with producer Bob Guccione and writer Gore Vidal shot at the time of production. The full uncut 156 minute version features on the first disc. The second disc has a shorter version which has wonderful commentary tracks by Mirren and McDowell. Alas, the 200 plus minute Guccione edited version, which was rumoured to have been shown to preview audiences in Italy, is not included in this set and in fact may no longer exist.
It is now well known that the film that Vidal wrote and Director Tinto Brass shot are not what was finally released after Guccione took control of the editing and shut Brass out of the production. To bridge huge continuity gaps Guccione and his editors extensively used out-takes and rehearsal footage rescued from rubbish bins. The documentary material provides fascinating information about what might have been a masterpiece had Brass been allowed to edit the film he shot and do pick up shots, retakes and the shooting of much needed new scenes which would become self evident in the editing stage.
Thanks to the documentary material, we get to fully appreciate the incredible production design, the magnitude and details of the various sets and the beautiful costumes made by Production Designer Danilo Donati and his team. This is not always evident in the finished film.
There is a wonderful interview with the very erudite John Steiner, a British actor who built a short but spectacular career in Italian exploitation films in the 1970s. Steiner shaved his head to play the slimey Longinus character. Now a real estate agent in England, Steiner's witty comments about the making of the film are worth the price of the DVD set alone.
As time goes by Caligula will continue to be restudied and reassessed. No doubt it will gain in stature but unlike the other Caligula film of cinema legend, the `lost' 1937 I Claudius featuring Charles Laughton as Claudius and Emlyn Williams as Caligula, we have ample material to study and assess thanks to this excellent DVD collection.
The Imprial Edition is a 3 DVD set that offers two versions of the movie, the normal comercial release and another that would have a corrected editing (text inside comments that the original movie was edited out of what should have been the correct order). There's little difference between the two. There is also an assortment of extra material, including various outtakes, picture galleries and some very intresting interviews both filmed at the time of shooting the movie and recent.
My thoughts regarding the movie is that it fails in it's attempt to portray pagen Rome as it states. I have no problems with the sex and orgies. Sex is part of what we are as people. Part of our way of life, like eating or defecating. Such hang-ups do not distract me. But filming people working naked, mallot in hand breaking rocks is not reality. It's just for show (or shock). This is not real life, simply put. Watching Bob Guccione stating in interview that the main concern was accuracy in portraying paegan Rome is a joke.
It could be suggested, that the movie would probably be less controversal, less sex-explicit and more directed to the story, if Guccione was not involved. Having said that, the movie would certainly not have the sets and costumes, let alone the great actors, without Guccione's financial involvment either. One can only wonder how the real movie, as conceived by either the screenwriter or director could have been. The finished product is neither.
It is probably clear to you by now that this is not a movie directed towards family entertainment. Though I wouldn't call it porn (it fails on that too), it most certainly is adult entertainment, much in the same way as Emmanuele or Story of O.
I would suggest this movie for students of the art of film making. The sets and costumes are gorgeous and very well put together. The filming itself is very well done (choise of angles/camera positioning, lighting, contrasts). Some may find that the image and sound may not be top for today's standards but they are very good just the same. And the main reason why a movie that fails on so many levels is still topic of discussion in a serious way. This movie contains excelent acting!
Malcolm McDowell is brilhant! He is completly convincing and has my utmost admiration for pulling off a very difficult acting part that done wrong, would make the movie fall flat on it's face. He is the main reason why Caligula isn't just a bad porn flick. Peter O'Toole and John Gielgud are as good as you would expect them to be, though they take part only of the first third of the movie. Helen Mirren, so young and so sexy is a treat. She, along with John Steiner who plays Longinus, help Malcom carry the movie the rest of the way. And then there is Teresa Ann Savoy. When she is on the screen, it's hard to notice anything else. She may not be a great actress, but she is convincing enough. And she is just soooo beautiful in this picture!!! A first class boner with a face of an angel and a figure of a Goddess. Pity there is no interview with her included. I hear she is happily married and a mom nowadays. Good for her.
To be truely complete, this so called Imperial Edition should have included Gore Vidal's original screenplay and Tinto Brass' italian edition of the movie (that's right, there's still another version out there hidden somewhere in Italy), which is said to be considerably different from the one that was screened in theatres around the world. I know I for one would be curious to see this Italian version.