(aka 'Caligula' or  'Caligola' or 'Caligula, My Son' or 'Caligvla' or 'Gore Vidal's Caligola' or 'Io, Caligola')

Directed by Tinto Brass and Bob Guccione (uncredited)
Italy/USA 19
79

If there's one thing worse than moviegoers' ignoring fantastic movies, it's filmmakers' resurrecting horrible ones. Most of the time, we can dismiss a cinematic travesty, because we're positive that filmmakers will learn from their mistakes, and will not hold on to false hopes. This does not mean, however, that filmmakers can be completely forgiven for exposing us to such junk, especially when they have the nerve to take those bad movies and send them back into theatrical release, subjecting us to a terrible experience one more time. "Caligula," a supposed accurate chronicle of dark sexual Roman times, is such a movie, which tells the audience something that should come as no surprise: if those who make a disastrous motion picture dare to reissue it, they obviously need some real psychological help. But let us not label "Caligula" a bad movie. A bad movie can be jaw-droppingly awful and still have redeeming qualities. Movies like this, however, lack even the simplest merits. It is nasty, repulsive, degrading, stupid, and of all things, invulnerable to any type of criticism.

Excerpt from David Keyes review at CinemaPhile.org located HERE

Nobody wanted anything to do with Caligula: Gore Vidal didn't want his name on it, producer Bob Guccione of Penthouse didn't want the Italian director to finish it (then didn't want reviewers to see it), the stars didn't want to be associated with it. The appealing idea of a raging loony who has the power to pursue his little whims has attracted and sunk better talents than these. Indeed, dotted throughout there are glimpses of what might have been: Caligula enquiring of an ebbing Gielgud what it's like to die, a death machine that operates like a combine harvester, some exotic sets in Italo-barbaric style. But all in all it's a dreary shambles, directed by Brass toto drosso con abandimento.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: August 14th, 1979

Reviews    More Reviews    DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Image Entertainment (3-disc Imperial Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Image Entertainment (2-disc Imperial Edition) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

SD-DVD Package

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC Image Entertainment - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 2:35:50 (unrated) + 2:32:45 (Pre-release)  2:36:01 +  2:32:57
Video 1.95:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.81 + 5.56 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Unrated: 23.0 Gig

Pre-release: 22.6 Gig

1080P dual-layered Blu-ray

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Unrated

Bitrate: Pre-release

Bitrate:

Blu-ray

 

NO BITRATE GRAPH FOR Blu-ray YET!

 

Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.0), English (mono)  English (DTS HD Master 5.0), English (mono) 
Subtitles None Spanish, none
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Aspect Ratio 1.95:1

Edition Details:

• On 'Theatrical' there are some Theatrical trailers

On Disc 2

• Three commentaries - 2 new full-length audio commentaries with stars Malcolm McDowell and Helen Mirren and older one with Ernest Volkman
• Comprehensive new video interviews with director Tinto Brass and actors John Steiner and Lori Wagner
• Never-before-seen deleted scenes
Disc 3
• "The Making of Caligula" documentary (two versions) featuring interviews with Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, Gore Vidal and many more
• Hundreds photographs from the set (Gallery)
• DVD-Rom extras including Gore Vidal's original screenplay, three Penthouse magazine features, an interview with Bob Guccione, press kit notes, cast and crew bios and filmographies and more!
• liner notes booklet

DVD Release Date: October 2nd, 2007

Custom 4-teired digipak with cardboard case
Chapters: both edition have 21 chapters

Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Aspect Ratio 1.95:1

Unrated: 23.0 Gig

Pre-release: 22.6 Gig

1080P dual-layered Blu-ray

Edition Details:

Disc 1

• On 'Theatrical' there are some Theatrical trailers

• Three commentaries - 2 new full-length audio commentaries with stars Malcolm McDowell and Helen Mirren and older one with Ernest Volkman
• Never-before-seen deleted scenes

Theatrical trailer
Disc 2 SD-DVD

• Comprehensive new video interviews with director Tinto Brass and actors John Steiner and Lori Wagner
• "The Making of Caligula" documentary (two versions) featuring interviews with Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, Gore Vidal and many more
• Hundreds photographs from the set (Gallery)
• DVD-Rom extras including Gore Vidal's original screenplay, three Penthouse magazine features, an interview with Bob Guccione, press kit notes, cast and crew bios and filmographies and more!
• liner notes booklet

Blu-ray Release Date: November 4th, 2008
Standard Blu-ray case
Chapters: both edition have 21 chapters

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Blu-ray November -08': Frankly, I became tired of matching these captures and I don't think it should affect the obvious observations anyone can make about this Blu-ray edition. I think it looks terrible. It is superior to the SD-DVD image but not by any amount that would matter to most. I toggled back and forth between the two and saw little, if any difference on my system. The image is still quite dark, although marginally brighter than the SD-DVD rendering - skin tones look redder and detail is decidedly poor. Grain is prominent, but this certainly doesn't look high-definition to me.

Audio gets a bump to DTS HD master 5.0 (?), and it does sound a bit tighter - especially the music seemed to export a bit more crisply. O'Toole's dialogue also had more of a bite - although this could only be in my head. This Blu-ray actually offers subtitles - in Spanish only.

There appears to be nothing new in this set. You get the the two versions on one dual-layered Blu-ray disc. The second disc is SD and is the same as the one offered (as the 3rd) in the Imperial SD-DVD collection excepting it has added one of the supplements from the 2nd SD - the interviews with director Tinto Brass and actors John Steiner and Lori Wagner.  

This is orderable early via a special deal with Amazon.com. I believe other outlets will sell this in the future - at a later date.

I hate this film even more and see no reason to endorse this Image Entertainment Blu-ray. Porn must surely be available in this new format - and anything would be better than this mess. This is only a personal opinion but I consider this probably the worst film ever made - or certainly the most painfully excruciating to sit through as a reviewer. Without the graphic scenes this would find no audience whatsoever - a total waste of the talent of the performers and no cohesive production direction. It was just slapped onto the screen. It's not even so 'bad' it's good - it just so 'bad' it's nauseating - avoid at all costs.

Eric says: 'I don't see CALIGULA ever looking better in the digital realm than it does there. Considering how much they spent on sets and costumes I don't think its a matter of not being able to afford the lighting equipment. The film looks like a lot of Tinto Brass' earlier films shot by Silvano Ippoliti (who worked for Brass from SALON KITTY before CALIGULA up to ALL LADIES DO IT which was taken over by Massimo de Venanzo). Brass said in an interview that Ippoliti measured exposure by looking at the light on his hand and without an exposure meter. Probably the only thing that could get a quality transfer out of CALIGULA would be to digitally scrub out the natural film grain frame by frame (but I can't imagine anyone caring enough to do so - let's face it, it's an awful film that Guccione only made worse).' (thanks Eric!)

***

ON THE SD-DVD PACKAGE: I'll hold my tongue for now about the film itself but intend to voice some opinions of my own later in this section.

This package has three discs (not 4 as initially advertised). 2 versions of the film; the Pre-release version (disc 2) has different editing (even the beginning is different) and eliminates 6 minutes of hardcore porn (fellatio, cunnilingus etc.) shot by producer Bob Guccione. The theatrical version is on disc one and runs 155:50 (as it always has) and the Pre-release version on disc two. The Pre-release version also includes never before seen footage and alternate angles  - and there is a third disc of supplements.  (big thanks to Ricardo for much of this information!)

The image quality is not exceptional by any standards - in fact it is quite weak. I under stand that the film was frequently shot with a softened lens (actually typical of Guccione's Penthouse girly magazine shots) but even those scenes with a sharper focus are not stellar. There is a slim black border circumventing the edge limiting the horizontal resolution. Both feature editions are progressive, dual-layered and anamorphic. Digital noise is prevalent and contrast is weak. Overall the quality appearance leaves a lot to be desired on both editions (they appear the same although disc 2 - the shorter, slightly cleaner - version may be a small notch superior.  Both versions shows some speckles and I have no idea how it compares to the past versions of the film on DVD... but is this is any improvement - it is minor. 

Audio has a 5.0 channel (bump?) and a mono track. There seemed to be little valid separation in the multi-channel offering and the mono was expectantly flat. Of the two - the 5.0 sounded superior to my ear but no where near state of the art DVD audio.

Supplements are mostly poor (on disc 3) - back production footage in very poor condition of stuff like - 2 minutes of John Gielgud getting his make-up on etc. Anyway I wasn't impressed with too much of that, although the two 'Making of...' featurettes are the best of the 3rd bonus disc. Really it is all kind of silliness or archival stuff in too weak a condition to mean anything important.

 

The best value of this package are the commentaries - McDowell talks with a fair degree of frankness including incidents with Gore Vidal who wanted him to have anal intercourse with an actor of which he settled on 'fisting' him instead. I like McDowell and he doesn't back down too much explaining he thought the horse he was riding in one scene gave the best performance in all of Caligula. In Mirren's commentary - she has some fun - gently backing away and being a shade more politically correct - for this reason it comes off as a bit phony-baloney. In Volkman's commentary he is talking over a phone (hard to hear at times) and is the most 'up-front' - often in a funny way - talking about English actors wanting money etc. he knew many details about Tinto Brass and the production - at times being insulting to varying degrees. He sheds a lot of light of the re-shooting of additional scenes - its legality, later lawsuits etc. He states that Brass had no input in the editing and the whole film process was chaos/a 3-ring circus. I'm unsure, but suspect this commentary is an old one while McDowell's and Mirren's are both new. Anyway, I enjoyed all three more than the 2 editions of the films themselves - especially McDowell's commentary.

There is also a small 16-page booklet with historical information - all text no photos. 

Caligula exports none of the inestimable magnificence and glory of ancient Rome. I strongly recommend the DVD 'Rome: Engineering an Empire' originally shown on the History Channel television program. That documentary DVD focuses on many of the unfathomable technical aspects of that past society as well as mentioning the corruption at the higher levels. It is factual and non-exploitive - detailing much of the grandiose extent of past humankind's most lavish, decadent civilization. Caligula is really just a mess of pornography and violence representing itself in the guise of one of Rome's wacky Emperors (this behavior certainly did exist but many of the details in this film have an excessively corrupt poetic license). I have a feeling that it doesn't matter what I say - people will still buy this Image Entertainment package - so I hope this review prepares you for a weak image and many extensive and boring supplements (aside from the commentaries which I found to be the only positive aspect).

Apologies if this review is far less detailed than our usual - but like most of the actors involved in Caligula - I just want to move on.... quickly.   

Gary W. Tooze

 

 



DVD Menus


 

DVD Menus - Disc 2


 

DVD Menus - Disc 3


 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures -

 

1) Image Entertainment (3-disc Imperial Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Image Entertainment (2-disc Imperial Edition) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Image Entertainment (3-disc Imperial Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Image Entertainment (2-disc Imperial Edition) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

NOT EXACT FRAME

 

1) Image Entertainment (3-disc Imperial Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Image Entertainment (2-disc Imperial Edition) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


SD-DVD

 

 


NOTE: the following four photos below depict explicit sexual behavior and violence.
From Disc One of both SD-DVD and Blu-ray (unrated version)
 
NOTE: EVEN THESE Blu-ray IMAGES ARE EXPANDABLE TO FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
 
To view simply place your mouse over the black image (to avoid 'scroll up')

1) Image Entertainment (3-disc Imperial Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Image Entertainment (2-disc Imperial Edition) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 


1) Image Entertainment (3-disc Imperial Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Image Entertainment (2-disc Imperial Edition) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Image Entertainment (3-disc Imperial Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Image Entertainment (2-disc Imperial Edition) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 
DVD Box Cover

Distribution Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC Image Entertainment - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

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