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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Jarman classic
Beyond Caravagio's art there is very little evidence to support an in depth biographical study. What there is (principally a few police records) may or may not suggest a violent man prone to fits of jealous rage and violent behaviour. Jarman, however, provides a beautifully realised poetical interpretation, charged with a latent sexuality, that conveys a complex blend of...
Published on 24 Jun 2008 by Room For A View

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars I am sure for all the Jarman fans out there they will love it but for me I did not love it ...
Unless you admire Derek Jarman's works DO NOT BUY THIS FILM. I hadn't come across Jarman's films before and so I thought this was going to be a true representation on the life of Caravaggio. Alas it was not. I am sure for all the Jarman fans out there they will love it but for me I did not love it at all.

Set in the late 1500s I did not appreciate the use of...
Published 2 months ago by Susan E. Tisley


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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Jarman classic, 24 Jun 2008
By 
Room For A View - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Caravaggio [1986] [DVD] (DVD)
Beyond Caravagio's art there is very little evidence to support an in depth biographical study. What there is (principally a few police records) may or may not suggest a violent man prone to fits of jealous rage and violent behaviour. Jarman, however, provides a beautifully realised poetical interpretation, charged with a latent sexuality, that conveys a complex blend of urban poverty and aristocratic patronage. Jarman succeeds in placing a 'modern day' Caravaggio amongst his baroque compositions, recognising the artists's immense talent for the human form, light and shadow and use of colour. The acting is awesome and the sets show how a highly imaginative crew can pull together the essence of a period with grace and historical insight. Amazing.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A typically imaginative and highly idiosyncratic examination of the artist from director Derek Jarman, 19 Jan 2008
This review is from: Caravaggio [1986] [DVD] (DVD)
Quite simply unlike any other biographical film you will ever see, Derek Jarman's acclaimed production of Caravaggio (1986) is a lovingly constructed, highly personal cross-reference of tormented sixteenth century genius, twentieth century iconography and a somewhat satire on the shallowness of the burgeoning eighties' art scene of which Jarman was very much part of. Exploring Caravaggio's life through his work, the film distinctively merges fact, fiction, legend and imagination in a bold and confident approach that will probably leave serious art enthusiasts and casual viewers outraged by the complete disregard for accurate, historical storytelling.

Shot with a typically avant-garde approach, director/writer Jarman doesn't so much fashion a biography of the artist, but rather, creates a personal reflection of the man using intimate characteristics that appeal to his filmmaking sensibilities. This makes Caravaggio more of an interpretation of the filmmaker than the artist himself; somewhat self-indulgently focusing on Caravaggio's struggle with bisexuality, perfectionism and wanton obsession; perhaps even glossing over the more intricate workings of the character, for instance, his own passion for art and his battles with the various religious and creative constraints of the period.

It's a shame some of these ideas aren't further elaborated upon, because, at its heart, Caravaggio is really an exceptional film. As I commented earlier, it's perhaps unlike any other film you will ever see; an iconoclastic vision with a cinematic imagination that knows no bounds. Caravaggio is a film in which a 16th century setting gives way to the various anachronisms of passing trains, tuxedoes, motorbikes, typewriters and chic nightclub settings. It is a film in which every frame is rendered in reference to the artist's work, composed with rich, shadowy colours that bring to mind the contrast between fresh and rotting fruit, and an unrivalled interplay between sound and production design that is reminiscent in its intense savagery of two dogs angrily ripping each other to pieces.

There is no other 'based on fact film' that has demonstrated such a wild and evocative recreation of real-life hysteria and events, with the possible exception of Peter Jackson's masterful Heavenly Creatures (1994) or even some of Jarman's subsequent projects like Edward II (1991) and Wittgenstein (1994). With a cast of now very well known faces, such as Nigel Terry, Sean Bean, Tilda Swinton, Michael Gough, Dexter Fletcher and Robbie Coltrane - not to mention some of the most beautiful photography ever committed to film - Caravaggio represents an impressive and enjoyable combination of art and cinema that is now, twenty years on, ripe for rediscovery.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and moody, 9 Jan 2011
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This review is from: Caravaggio [1986] [DVD] (DVD)
This movie is hard to get into, and it jumps around quite a lot through the artist's life. Throughout the movie there are some amazing set pieces that recreate the artist's famous paintings in minute detail, and these alone make the movie worth watching if you like Caravaggio's work. Created on extremely low budget, it's amazing what imagination and fine acting can do.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegiac, elegant and unforgettable, 29 Mar 2011
This review is from: Caravaggio [1986] [DVD] (DVD)
Derek Jarman crafted a beautiful and unique work of art in "Caravaggio". Perhaps the fact that I have a great love for the work of the real Michelangelo Caravaggio, influences my judgment just a bit; It was quite enjoyable to see the paintings come to life, and to witness how they might have actually been created. In fact, much of Jarman's poetic film has the look of a lush, living painting. There is much to admire here besides the aesthetics; the talented and beautiful cast, led by Nigel Terry, the intense-looking Sean Bean, as Ranuccio, and the elegant Tilda Swinton, as Lena; the woman loved by two very passionate, and tormented men. The acting is all around excellent, but Nigel Terry as Michelangelo really stands out. He is great to watch, and brings life to a man the world knows not so much about. Also actor Dexter Fletcher was quite funny and likable in his portrayal of the younger Caravaggio.

More than a historical, biographical account of the painter, this is more the study of a classic love triangle. Caravaggio's models were mostly street people, many of them also criminals, and it seemed that he often became personally involved with his subjects. His love for 'Lena' seems to be as strong, if not stronger, than his love for 'Ranuccio'. And this divided love has tragic consequences, for all involved.

I didn't find "Caravaggio" an overly gay film, as the subject wasn't focused on obsessively, like other films of this nature tend to do. The love affair between Lena and Michelangelo was given as much attention as the relationship between him and Ranuccio. Therefore those who might feel a little uncomfortable with the subject matter, need not be, as it is actually quite accessible.

I highly recommend this poetic film, especially for admirers of the painter Caravaggio.

I hope this review has been helpful in your purchasing decision.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a stunning film of heartbreakingly beautiful imagery, 18 Sep 2000
By 
This review is from: Caravaggio [VHS] (1986) (VHS Tape)
every shot in this beautiful film is like one of caravaggio's paintings - a true masterpiece of cinematography. jarman shows his story telling skills off to the full, sharing his obvious fondness for the artist and his works to the extent that you feel compelled to go away and see more of his paintings for yourself after having watched this. dexter fletcher plays the young and precocious caravaggio as only one so young and precocious could, and sean bean is wonderfully spiteful and sexy as his muse. this is a film for the faint hearted art film fan - as jarman fills the film with his trademark humour eccentricities to keep you on your toes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best films about an artist, 29 Sep 2013
By 
schumann_bg - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Caravaggio [1986] [DVD] (DVD)
A few points: The paintings shown in the film don't look like Caravaggios, being much rougher (perhaps like early Cezanne); the similarity has been displaced onto the photography itself; the style of the film is like a cross between Terence Davies and Querelle; Sean Bean is very sexy as a personality and in his loincloth, stuffing coins in his mouth; although Jarman admired Pasolini hugely his own film is the opposite in its studio set-up, where Pasolini always filmed in real settings; Pasolini might well have put Dexter Fletcher in a film if he'd been around; the anachronistic details are in a playful spirit although it's not that playful a film otherwise; the mute Jerusaleme's face and emotions make a poignant counterweight to the dying artist.
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1.0 out of 5 stars I am sure for all the Jarman fans out there they will love it but for me I did not love it ..., 23 Aug 2014
By 
Susan E. Tisley (France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Caravaggio [1986] [DVD] (DVD)
Unless you admire Derek Jarman's works DO NOT BUY THIS FILM. I hadn't come across Jarman's films before and so I thought this was going to be a true representation on the life of Caravaggio. Alas it was not. I am sure for all the Jarman fans out there they will love it but for me I did not love it at all.

Set in the late 1500s I did not appreciate the use of electric light bulbs in one scene, repairing motorbikes and hearing car engines or Caravaggio leaning up against a green truck.

I have given it one star only because I had to.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love inspiring and poignant sadness, 2 July 2014
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This review is from: Caravaggio [1986] [DVD] (DVD)
This film deals with a painter of great fame from the end of the Renaissance. It is the story of a man of course but also of his assistant. He literally bought a mute boy out of his misery when he was a small child and took him to his studio to work for him, to grind his colors and prepare his paints. He will of course use the child as a model for some exuberant bacchic scenes overloaded with fruits of all sorts. The mute boy becomes the friend of the painter and little by little this friendship must have become love, real love, the mental and sentimental passion.

On the other hand the artist is attracted by male bodies mostly but in the strength they demonstrate when they are fighting. So he is looking for violence, muscular tension, aggressiveness in males, one body against another, and some compositions of several men demonstrating their power in some scenes implying violence and cruelty. This search for violent brutality excludes love. It is pure desire and one of these men will have a tragic ending because he understood this desire required him to love the artist back and thus to do what he thought the artist wanted him to do. His mistake, especially since it was killing a pregnant woman.

The only one who has the right (the artists granted him that right), the duty (the artists expected him to do what's concerned here), the obligation even to love him back, is the young assistant because that assistant was bought and is the artist's possession, the only person the artist has the duty and the obligation to take care of as if he were his own child. And in this case it is real love from the artist to the assistant and from the assistant to the artist, to and fro and back all the time. This assistant will bring the artist to his own death on his own death bed and he will be the only one able to bring him to death in peace, to grant him death in a way, though it will be for the assistant a tragedy, a drama with a phenomenal solitude afterwards, though this is not explored in the film.

All other men the artists selects on their own strength are supposed to accept his love but definitely not love him back. They do not have that right because the artist only satisfies his own desire but never ever anything that has any real sentimental or mental dimension. He uses these men as satisfying actors in his sexual desire just the same way as he uses them as props in his studio to compose a scene that he can then paint on the canvass.

Living and working close to the Pope, Caravaggio is classified a sodomite but tolerated because of his art, because of the marvelous paintings he can produce. But in this extremely sectarian and fundamentalistic society he is living in he is obliged to mind every step of his and pay for his privilege a very high artistic price. The result is that he is locked up in his sodomite closet and he has no way to get out of it. So his love is nothing but a perversion and he cannot expect from anyone to love him since it would be a perversion too. Then his love is reduced to a gross physical and violent impulse and he takes what he needs to satisfy this impulse, he pays for it since it is nothing but a forbidden fruit that has a very high price, and it is finished. Full stop. Period.

And that is the moment when you start wondering about his assistant. Man cannot live without any love. If any love between two men is impossible as a permanent and stable relation, you have to disguise this relation in a way or another. The mute assistant is perfect since Caravaggio got him when he was six or seven and he has a very clear function and position to satisfy. The relation is seen by most people more like the relation between a father and a son and the possible sexual dimension of it might very well never have been consumed. Art least this part was not important. What was important was the tears shed by the assistant when his master died, when he brought him to death.

I would easily say that any man longs for such a relation that is not and cannot be carnal. Men finds that in younger people who are their sons or close male relatives, at times younger men who need some mentor or leader or advisor. It is love but draped in some age or cultural dependency that makes it acceptable. Such a relation will never be sexual because it would be antagonistic with what the passion it contains means.

And that distance in time between Caravaggio and us is clearly identified in the film with all kinds of anachronistic sounds or objects: electricity at the end of the 15th century, motorbikes, cars, trains, helicopters, cigarettes, etc. Has the world improved or is it still the same? I would say that in 1886 it probably looked pretty the same as around 1600. But it may also mean that luckily progress will bring some new way of looking at life and love.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 30 Jun 2014
By 
Gerrard "I love this thing!" (HARROW, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Caravaggio [1986] [DVD] (DVD)
All Good
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5.0 out of 5 stars Artistic, 2 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Caravaggio [1986] [DVD] (DVD)
Artistic and daring film for a controversial painter, full of amusing anachronisms. And a gorgeous, young Sean Bean as a model...
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Caravaggio [1986] [DVD]
Caravaggio [1986] [DVD] by Derek Jarman (DVD - 2007)
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