Caravaggio (1986)

Caravaggio (1986)

Fictionalized biopic of famed 17th century Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio. As a young man, he gained the support of Cardinal Del Monte and Caravaggio proceeded to develop a new style of painting giving a more realistic view of the world in which he lived. He also begins love affairs with one of his models, Ranuccio as well as with Ranuccio’s girlfriend Lena. Their relationship leads to murder and deceit.

Caravaggio is a 1986 British drama film directed by Derek Jarman. The film is a fictionalised re-telling of the life of Baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. It is the film debut of Tilda Swinton and Sean Bean.

About the Story

Told in a segmented fashion, the film opens as Caravaggio (Nigel Terry) dies from lead poisoning while in exile, with only his long-time deaf-dumb companion Jerusaleme (Spencer Leigh) (who was given by his family to the artist as a boy) by his side. Caravaggio thinks back to his life as a teenage street ruffian (Dexter Fletcher) who hustles and paints. While taken ill and in the care of priests, young Caravaggio catches the eye of Cardinal Del Monte (Michael Gough). Del Monte nurtures Caravaggio’s artistic and intellectual development but also appears to molest him.

As an adult, Caravaggio still lives under the roof and paints with the funding of Del Monte. Caravaggio is shown employing street people, drunks and prostitutes as models for his intense, usually religious paintings (see the article on the painter for examples). He is depicted as frequently brawling, gambling, getting drunk and is implied to sleep with both male and female models. In the art world, Caravaggio is regarded as vulgar and entitled due to his Vatican connections.

Caravaggio Movie Poster (1986)

Caravaggio (1986)

Directed by: Derek Jarman
Starring: Sean Bean, Noam Almaz, Tilda Swinton, Dexter Fletcher, Nigel Terry, Garry Cooper, Nigel Davenport, Robbie Coltrane, Imogen Claire, Sadie Corre
Screenplay by: Derek Jarman
Production Design by: Christopher Hobbs
Cinematography by: Gabriel Beristain
Film Editing by: George Akers
Costume Design by: Sandy Powell
Art Direction by: Michael Buchanan
Music by: Simon Fisher-Turner
Distributed by: Cinevista (USA). Umbrella Entertainment (Australia)
Release Date: August 29, 1986