Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Tilda Swinton, Sean Bean, Nigel Terry, Michael Gough, Spencer Leigh
Director: Derek Jarman
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Stewing in Rome's underbelly during the late Italian Renaissance, Michelangelo da Caravaggio was plucked from the streets by the Catholic Church to paint austere Biblical exaltations. Derek Jarman masterfully captures not ... more »
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Kona | Emerald City | 08/19/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Michelangelo Caravaggio was an important Italian painter who led a short, tumultuous life. He surrounded himself with earthy street people who became the models for his paintings.
If you're looking for a biopic about the life of Caravaggio, look elsewhere. This chaotic and bizarre interpretation of his life by avant-garde director Derek Jarman is like seeing art history on a bad acid trip. The story opens well enough around the year 1600, but I thought I was seeing things when I saw a man in a tuxedo. I scratched my head at the calculator, but the motorbike and truck were too much. The use of anachronistic images and odd sound effects (trains, crashing ocean waves) was too jarring and distracting for me. There was little dialogue, the range of accents included cockney and Irish, and the narration made no sense.
As a fan of Caravaggio's work, I did enjoy the scenes that showed models posing for his famous paintings, but the rest - a montage of unrelated scenes showing his depraved lifestyle - was just distasteful and speculative. Tilda Swinton made an impressive screen debut in the puzzling role of a street woman and a very young Sean Bean is interesting as her companion, but Nigel Terry was an off-putting Caravaggio. Not recommended."
Great visuals, pointless narrative
J. C Clark | Overland Park, KS United States | 01/19/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I guess the deliberately jarring and anachronistic visuals were there to demonstrate that Caravaggio was of no era but an artist for all time. No argument from me; the John the Baptist painting featured strongly is located here in KC, and is one of the jewels of our collection. An astounding and amazing painting, it just destroys everything else in the room. It is a work of stupendous genius and power.
Unfortunately, the version of it visible in the studio in this film is a tame and shallow copy. Just like the film, it is trying to be something it is not. The endless silly images undercut the seriousness of the story. At one point, as Tilda Swinton opens a large rectangular package. I said to my wife, "Maybe it's a computer."
When I read things like "a meditation on sex, art, power....blahblah" I know I'm in for it. I know that a "meditation" in film never says anything, it just tosses images around as if showing people lusting and misbehaving tells us something. But this film tells us nothing. Caravaggio was a jerk, who mistreated those who cared for him and chased those who didn't. The people around him were users and cheats and liars and deceivers. OK, yeah, well, that's not actually news. Nor is it interesting.
So, while there is lots of beauty, with languid and lush images filling the screen, this was one dull and irritating film. A self-indulgent director makes a movie about a self-indulgent painter, and the results are not worth the effort."
Biofic of an artist
wiredweird | Earth, or somewhere nearby | 07/29/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"That's biographical fiction - although Jarman started with a solid core of historical truth about this brilliant brawler, the film contains at least as much speculation and interpolation as actual fact.
Much of it works well. The film's stark contrasts of light and dark echo Caravaggio's own innovation in chiaroscuro. Numerous anachronisms appear as well, including cars, calculators, and modern clothing. Like the film's contrasts, these reiterate the anachronisms tha Caravaggio put into his paintings. Although jarring at first, these blends of era add to the movie's quirky charm.
Male homosexuality appears repeatedly in Jarman's career, so it's no surprise that Jarman makes the most of the allegations about Caravaggio's orientation. In fact, that offers a major motivation for some of the most dramatic events near the end of this movie - events that form around Tilda Swinton in her first movie role. This brings me to something I found odd in this movie (I mean odd even by this movie's standards): Nigel Terry plays his Caravaggio with an understatement that doesn't always match the magnitude of the events around him. Perhaps a poker face would have suited the dangerous circles in which Caravaggio travelled; perhaps Caravaggio was meant to express himself through his art.
The result shouldn't be taken as genuine history. Still, it creates an enjoyable drama in homage to this brilliant but eccentric and enigmatic painter.