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Malcolm McDowell giving an unbalanced, violent and perhaps pretty precise portrayal of the emperor Caligula. Spokeo

Caligula (1979)

“Caligula” was never meant to be historically accurate, unless its creators genuinely believed that the whole reign that Rome’s third emperor to be one, lengthy orgy. But it has definitely been influential, and it wouldn’t be farfetched to imply that “Caligula” is mostly responsible because that shaping our see of the roman elite together a debauched and orgiastic bunch (due in no small component to the reality that the producer Bob Guccione insisted the the final cut contain a six-minute, full-on hardcore porn scene, top it to be banned in numerous countries).

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Historically speaking, the problem with “Caligula” is that, if we blindly believe everything the ancients wrote around the emperor, this $22 million movie might be mistaken because that a documentary. Admittedly that takes severe view. Whereby there are any kind of doubts in the ancient literature, “Caligula” always opts for the many violent or depraved version. There are components that space patently ridiculous: the moving wall surface of fatality with spinning blades at the bottom the decapitate sand-trapped victims being a personal favorite. Yet there are other scenes that, together crazy together they might seem, space actually rooted in historic fact.

Take the part where Caligula declares war on the sea. Unbelievable as it seems, the ancient sources unanimously agree that this in reality happened. Suetonius defines how Caligula attracted up his fight lines ~ above the shore of northern France before giving the order because that his military to fill their helmets and also tunics with seashells. He then claimed victory for Rome, paid his men a bounty, and returned come Rome to celebrate a triumph. In truth what probably happened is that terrified the crossing right into Britain, the troops mutinied (as they would do later under Claudius in 43 AD) and also the furious emperor mocked lock by make them collect seashells. But, similar to everywhere else, “Caligula” ignores this possibility, utilizing it to show Caligula’s madness.

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This is the movie’s specifying feature. It takes every attested murder, sexual depravity or action of madness and exaggerates that tenfold. But it’s still a movie of real historical merit—not since of the subject, yet from the cult condition of the movie itself. “Sickening, shameless trash”, one doubter called it, few were any kinder. Yet whatever your view, you have to admire just how Bob Guccione managed to attract some that the biggest names in the show company into unwittingly starring in what is basically a big-budget porno.