Caligula: A Controversial and Erotic Historical Drama
Caligula is a 1979 film that depicts the rise and fall of the Roman Emperor Caligula, played by Malcolm McDowell. The film is notorious for its explicit scenes of sex and violence, which were added by producer Bob Guccione without the consent of the director and cast. The film also features Teresa Ann Savoy as Drusilla, Caligula's sister and lover; Helen Mirren as Caesonia, Caligula's wife; Peter O'Toole as Tiberius, Caligula's predecessor; John Steiner as Longinus, Caligula's adviser; and John Gielgud as Nerva, a senator who commits suicide.
The film was banned in several countries and received mostly negative reviews from critics, who criticized its poor editing, acting, and historical accuracy. However, some critics praised the film's production values, cinematography, and music. The film has also gained a cult following among fans of exploitation cinema and has been subject to several re-releases and restoration attempts. The film is available in various versions, including an unrated 720p HD version that contains all the uncensored footage.The production of Caligula was a troubled one, marked by conflicts, controversies, and lawsuits. The film was originally conceived by Gore Vidal, who wrote a screenplay based on his research on the historical Caligula. He sold the rights to Penthouse founder Bob Guccione, who wanted to make an erotic film with high production values and famous actors. Guccione hired Italian director Tinto Brass, who had a reputation for making stylish and provocative films. However, Brass and Vidal soon clashed over the tone and direction of the film, as Brass wanted to emphasize the political satire and grotesque humor of the story, while Vidal wanted to stick to his historical vision. Brass also rewrote much of Vidal's dialogue, adding vulgarities and anachronisms. Vidal eventually disowned the film and sued Guccione for using his name in the credits.
The filming took place in Rome in 1976, with a budget of $17.5 million. The cast included Malcolm McDowell as Caligula, Teresa Ann Savoy as Drusilla, Helen Mirren as Caesonia, Peter O'Toole as Tiberius, John Gielgud as Nerva, and John Steiner as Longinus. The actors were mostly unaware of Guccione's plans to insert explicit sex scenes into the film, which he filmed separately with Penthouse models and porn stars. Guccione also hired another director, Giancarlo Lui, to assist him with the additional footage. The actors later expressed their dismay and regret over the film's final cut, which they felt betrayed their artistic integrity and damaged their reputations.
The editing of the film took several years, as Guccione and Brass fought over the final version. Guccione eventually fired Brass and took over the editing himself, cutting out much of Brass's footage and adding more sex scenes. He also changed the music score by Bruno Nicolai, replacing it with excerpts from classical composers such as Khachaturian and Prokofiev. The film was finally released in Italy in 1979 and in the United States in 1980, with an unrated rating. The film was banned or heavily censored in many countries due to its graphic depictions of sex, violence, incest, rape, torture, murder, and bestiality. The film also faced legal challenges from Vidal, Brass, McDowell, Mirren, O'Toole, Gielgud, and Steiner, who all sued Guccione for various reasons. 061ffe29dd