Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Retrospect on "Caligula"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Retrospect on “Caligula”

By: Brian Cotnoir

I am a cine-masochist.  I actually get off a little (psychologically) every time I force myself to watch a film that I know is going to be a terrible.  I proudly boast that I have sat through “A Serbian Film” in its entirety on multiple occasions. I’ve seen “A Clockwork Orange” dozens of times and regard it as one of my All-Time Favorite films.  I even reviewed a film for another blog that’s plot revolved around the idea of a “Gay Zombie Revolution”.  I review trash, I review sleaze, I review blood soaked pornography, and yet I am not ashamed of the types of films that I have forced myself to watch.  To this day, there are only a handful of films I ever felt ashamed or embarrassed for seeing; films like the one I am doing a Retrospect on today.  Today, I take a look back at one of the most infamous films ever made, the 1979 Erotic-Drama “Caligula”.

My First Impression of the Film

How did you get involved with this mess???
    I was ashamed of myself for making through the entire film in just one sitting.  This film is an atrocious mess.  It’s disorganized, it’s nonsensical, it unintelligent, it is bad!  I hated this film, it is easily one of the worst films I have ever forced myself to sit through.  I had one reason to want to see this film, and that was that its title role was played by Malcolm McDowell, one of my favorite actors.  “Caligula” also features the acting talents of 8-time Oscar Nominee, the late Peter O’Toole, and also featured future Academy Award Winner Helen Mirren. I’m surprised that anyone had a career after this film.  I honestly do believe that this film is the reason why Peter O’Toole has never won an Oscar.  Plus, I like to think/ hope he was drunk when they filmed his parts. 

My Impression of the Film after watching it a second time

You make me sad Malcolm.  So very, very sad.
I fully expected that this film would cause my blood to boil over like the first time I watched it, but much to my surprise, it didn’t make me angry, but rather it bored me.  I could not get over how dull this film actually was.  There was no action, no intelligent or memorable dialogue, and nothing of interest happening.  I began to critique things like the costumes, their hair styles, and the sets.  To be perfectly honest with you, that’s the only thing I thought about the film that was good.  It had these monumental sets that just looked fantastic.  I think this is another one of those instances when you could watch the film with the sound off and just admire the sets and what is going on in the background.

What I’d do to make the film better

It's such an awful mess!
It’s mind boggling to find out how this film came to be. For one thing, the film was financed by Bob Guccione “the founder of Penthouse Magazine”.  So it’s understandable why there’s so much pornography in this film.  I don’t think toning down or removing the sex scenes from this film would make it better, but it shouldn’t be the primary focus of the film.  I honestly don’t know if this film could be improved or made better, it’s so bad that I honestly believe that it’s beyond saving.  The screenplay for “Caligula” was written by acclaimed author Gore Vidal, and I was surprised at how bad it was.  Upon, further research, I discovered that Vidal did not want credit for writing this screenplay and disowned the film mostly because director Tinto Brass and lead actor Malcolm McDowell changed the point-of-view of his original screenplay.  This film is a poorly adapted bio-pic of one of the most notorious leaders in History.  Caligula reign as filled with sex, violence, and other untold horrors, so it’s quite a shame that the film’s crew chose only to focus on the sexual aspects of his life. 

My Final Opinion on this film


     It’s trash, of course.  And it’s not even the good type; it’s just an atrocious film, with little to nothing to offer its audience.  I don’t even think this is one of those “so-bad-that-it’s-good” films, I just think it’s bad.  The late Roger Ebert called this film “sickening, utterly worthless trash” and is one of only three films he ever walked out on!  That is saying something considering how many bad films Roger Ebert was forced to sit through.  Do I think people should see “Caligula”?  No, I do not.  I think that “Caligula” is one of those films that should be ignored until it slowly fades away from people’s memories.  I know, I will never make an attempt to sit through this film ever again, and that is a promise.

Why do you have to be so weird movie?


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