Caravaggio - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Caravaggio Reviews

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½ August 1, 2011
The only thing that made this film interesting was Jarman's use of anachronisms.
May 17, 2011
Derek Jarman's way of filming is interesting and also bizarre to me
March 26, 2011
Wonderfully transgressive, compelling, and gorgeously shot and acted.
Super Reviewer
½ February 10, 2011
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 film-making 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, tuxedos, 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.
January 29, 2011
An art film in every sense of the word. It has a special place in my life as it managed to remain the most successful screening of all time in terms of box office takings at the Malta University Film Club.
½ January 20, 2011
this movie wasn't that exciting. It moves like a turtle...very slowly. It's only highlight is that this is Tilda Swinton's screen debut!
½ December 26, 2010
didn't get me any closer to his paintings or life, but Tilda is brilliant as always.
December 24, 2010
Plot? Characterization? I was lost not knowing the details of Caravaggio's life. There were lots of implications but few explications. The only redeeming aspect was the beautiful reenactments of Caravaggio's paintings.
October 10, 2010
There were many promising ideas, then the whole thing turned out to be Caravaggio, the homosexual.
October 10, 2010
Esta cinta gana puntos por una simple raz√≥n: la fotograf√≠a de Gabriel Beristain (mexicano, por cierto) es maravillosa, totalmente inspirada en los cuadros del gran Caravaggio. El gran problema de esta cinta es que nunca encontr√© cu√°l era el objetivo de todo porque nos narran breves pasajes de la vida de Caravaggio (infancia, juventud, madurez y muerte) y luego nos cuentan como que peque√Īas anecdotas que parecen no estar relacionadas aunque el hilo conductor es Caravaggio. Y esa propuesta no me la trago. Primero cre√≠ que de verdad se hab√≠a colado un sonido de moto en escena...pero luego un helic√≥ptero, ver a un noble con una calculadora, la m√°quina de escribir y el autom√≥vil me pareci√≥ sumamente exagerado. Me brinca y hace que me fije m√°s en eso que en los detalles dram√°ticos. Una l√°stima teniendo a Tilda Swinton como actriz. Mis 3 estrellas son s√≥lo por la fotograf√≠a. Nada m√°s.
October 5, 2010
A very beautiful looking and sounding film about the life of Caravaggio, which was too arty for this philistine.
½ September 26, 2010
Un film contemporaneamente letterario ed estremamente attento alla figurazione. L'idea di riprodurre i dipinti caravaggeschi mi ricorda Pasolini che riprodusse Pontormo nella "Ricotta". Molto interessante la scelta di inserire voluti e reiterati anacronismi nella rappresentazione.
September 24, 2010
Very imaginative work
½ July 18, 2010
When I saw it for the first time 20 odd years ago, I thought it was depicting the artist's story for real; seeing it now I understand it's an interpretation of the life of Caravaggio by Derek Jarman. Nevertheless it is a beautiful film, the brilliant Nigel Terry, and the sweating and glistening Sean Bean adding an extra essence that makes this film worth watching. The lighting is done in chiaroscuro, just like in Caravaggio's paintings; this is a film full of atmosphere as you can get.
July 11, 2010
Derek Jarman uses this film to paint a portrait of Caravaggio not based on facts and historical evidence, but based on his paintings. It's a creative concept, and it's executed with so much skill and beauty that only a true artist could have done it. However, other key elements of the movie suffer for it. We're rushed through important periods of Caravaggio's life as if the screenwriter was put on a time limit, and yet, in what sounds like it should be a contradiction, the overall pacing is still too slow. The love triangle, which sounds fascinating in theory, is straightforward and shallow and I could never quite grasp the motivations behind many of the characters' actions. Even though Caravaggio's imagery stuck with me as I left the theater, I honestly feel like I learned nothing meaningful about Caravaggio the man. What should have been a feast for the eyes and the mind turns out to be much more of the former, and the disjointed, awkwardly-paced story suffers for it.
June 26, 2010
The dichotomies in the metaphors throughout the film were nauseating. The narrator, who we eventually learn is Caravaggio on his deathbed, refers to paintbrushes as a "companion in my loneliness." He refers to a painting as a "successful fucking disaster" and there are several others that I can only assume are meant to be ironic but they simply leave the viewer asking for superior writing. I hope that none of you have to suffer through watching this horrendous excuse for a film. Things that would be less horrific than watching Caravaggio include:
1. Watching Andy Warhol's "Hamburger" (as it's much shorter)
2. Having gum surgery (assuming you're knocked out and receive pain killers after the procedure)
3. Putting a blunt, dirty scalpel into both eyes (as it will prevent you from ever having to view "Caravaggio").
June 17, 2010
Standard biopic, with laced bisexuality. Sort of arty yet plain like a white canvas.
May 7, 2010
beautiful beautiful cinematography. i felt as if i were watching one of his paintings in motion, chiaroscuro exemplified.
½ May 7, 2010
Derek Jarman's portrait of the Italian artist. The film is very obviously set in sets with sound added in the background. Though the film takes place in the late 16th and early 17th century, there are modern day items that do occasionally appear - this is no ordinary biopic. How Jarman brings to life the masterworks of the great painter is quite incredible; as is many of the performances. However, the staginess of the production is distracting as it at times made me think I was watching a rather inexpensive television production. Also distracting is the overt homoeroticism - a theme in which Jarman is suggesting that just about everyone operates on homosexual urges. Nevertheless, this is a unique vision by a cinematic artist and is certainly worth viewing.
½ April 1, 2010
Not a conventional biographical movie. There is no linear narrative and Jarman focus loosely on documental facts from the painter's life. That said, there are some beautiful depictions of his paintigs recreated with real models and accompanied by a wonderful gregorian chant.
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