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CALIGULA (1979)

Caligula

Caligula is a hard one to review. As a film it is very well shot. The dialogue and acting is amazing and no expense has been spared with the production of this film. It is captivating for almost the entirety of the 2 and a half hour duration of this cinematic epic. The star power in this is awesome. Helen Mirren, Peter O’Toole and Malcom McDowell do an excellent job. 

I can’t help but wonder how Caligula went at the box office. Whilst an excellent depiction of the rise and eventual demise of the roman emperor Caligula (excellently played by Malcom McDowell) I doubt very seriously many theatre houses would have shown this film. The violence is of an extreme nature including genital mutilation and some pretty grim killings. In addition to this the sex scenes are on the same level as porn. When I say porn, I mean people actually having sex on film. I personally wouldn’t categorize this as porn (as the movie does have a very well set out plot and story line and the sex scenes aren’t the main focus of the film) but it does blur the lines between porn and drama. If you’re watching it with a friend make sure its an open minded friend because it is very sexually confronting

The film does have some underlying moral themes about what happens to a degenerate society and the corruption power can bring. The more I think about it the film wouldn’t have had the same impact without the extreme sex and violence so graphically portrayed.

Background of Caligula

Upon further research I discovered Caligula was produced by Penthouse magazine. If nothing else they would have access to plenty of willing stars/starlets prepared to engage in the required nudity and sex on film along side some more well known actors of the time like O’Toole and Mirren (who get to keep their clothes on). Often I wonder how this film affected the careers of the main stars after its release . I Might be something to do some research on this later on I think.

The best way to judge this for yourself is to check it out. Not an easy film to find but probably on amazon or ebay for those who are keen! If you can find it, it is definitely worth it.

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