Caravaggio (1986) - Rotten Tomatoes

Caravaggio (1986)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

This film is a biography of Renaissance artist Michelangelo Merisa da Caravaggio, who traveled with thieves and prostitutes, kept a child as a virtual slave, and told his life story through his paintings.

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Nigel Terry
as Caravaggio
Sean Bean
as Ranuccio Thomasoni
Spencer Leigh
as Jerusaleme
Michael Gough
as Cardinal Del Monte
Nigel Davenport
as Marchese Giustiniani
Robbie Coltrane
as Cardinal Borghese
Jonathan Hyde
as Baglione
Dexter Fletcher
as Young Caravaggio
Noam Almaz
as Boy Caravaggio
Jack Birkett
as The Pope
Una Brandon-Jones
as Weeping Woman
Imogen Claire
as Lady with the Jewels
Lol Coxhill
as Old Priest
Zohra Segal
as Jerualeme's Grandmother
Simon Turner
as Fra Fillipo
Terry Downes
as Bodyguard
Sadie Corre
as Princess Collona
Emile Nicolaou
as Young Jerusaleme
Gene October
as Model Peeling Fruit
Cindy Oswin
as Lady Elizabeth
John Rogan
as Vatican Official
Zohra Sehgal
as Jerualeme's Grandmother
Lucien Taylor
as Boy with Guitar
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Critic Reviews for Caravaggio

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (1)

I may be a dull fellow, but from the very beginning of Caravaggio, I hadn't the slightest idea as to what Jarman was up to.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Famed for its fabulously evocative recreation of the light/shade luminosity of Caravaggio's oil paintings, Caravaggio is nevertheless something of a victim of its times....But despite that, it is a wonderfully bold work, simply irresistible to look at

August 9, 2008 | Full Review…

Remarkably true to Caravaggio's visual aesthetic while expanding Jarman's own repertoire of tones and ideas.

September 16, 2005 | Rating: 4/5

Calling Derek Jarman's Caravaggio the director's most-accessible film is deceptive, even while being true.

May 12, 2003 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Marrying a painterly aesthetic with a defiantly homosexual sensibility, this ironic biopic is probably the most accessible film of avant-garde British director Derek Jarman.

August 9, 2002 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

It is very sensually done, emphasizing the artist's gargantuan appetites for bisexual and, especially, homosexual affairs with his models.

February 13, 2001 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Caravaggio


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.

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

Not a film that i would recommend, although, if you appreciate paintings or Caravaggio, maybe it is something to look for.

Linda K. T.
Linda K. T.

Super Reviewer

Caravaggio Quotes

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