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I had just recently seen the 2006 "Imperial Edition" of the 1979 movie, Caligula, which was originally entitled, "Gore Vidal's Caligula." Before viewing it, I wasn't aware of all the controversey surrounding this film *not the porn/gratuitous sex scenes - but the sheer drama that ensued throughout the film's prodution, and especially its POST-PRODUCTION.* After viewing the movie and reading articles about it, I understood everything; which is why I appreciate so greatly this spoof, from perhaps the greatest master of his art in our century. He was, in fact, deceived...oh, how romanesque! The Penthouse producer(s) in charge of the Caligula movie (red lights flashing already, right?), and the film's director, Tinto Brass, known for his film Salon Kitty (evidently rather explicit for its day too), would simply not fulfill Vidal's original vision for the film, much less his OWN screenplay, (secured simply as bait for superstars Peter O'Toole and Malcolm McDowell, no doubt.) It has been rumored that Brass disliked Vidal from the beginning due to his sexuality and his subsequent views on it, and would NOT FILM the homosexuality that was so much a part of Vidal's script (as rumored) and the ACCEPTED SEXUAL MORES of that time. So as not to destroy his reputation for what he now KNEW was no longer "Gore Vidal's Caligula," but rather "Penthouse's Caligula," he dropped out of the project completely, truely "The Man Who Said No." I DO have to say, though, that Caligula, to me, was entertaining. I say this ONLY because I was entranced by McDowell's performance as Caligula, along with O'Toole as Tiberius, and even Dame Hellen Mirren, well before her "breakthrough," had some scene-stealing scenes as Caesonia, eventhough, regretfully, she does not have a great amount of time onscreen (at least not for me). Also, I must admit that here were moments, BRIEF, but GREAT moments of lighting, costuming, and camera work, that combined with McDowell and the other 3 great actors/actress, and probably some of what little did stick around from Mr. Vidal's original screenplay (the film credits display "Adapted by an original screenplay by Gore Vidal"), make the movie worth seeing, if you like films dealing with ancient Rome. Trouble is, which mangled, post-production-nightmarish T&A version to chose from!!! So, CONGRATS, MR. VIDAL! Stickin it to Brass and Guccione with this spot-on spoof. If ONLY I could read Mr. Vidal's ORIGINAL screenplay of this film...it could have been a classic, maybe not in THOSE days, with copious sex, intense brutality, and homosexuality being so DAMNED taboo in film, but certainly today. Why? Because THAT WAS ROME AT THAT TIME. I've never seen a film that dealt with all of these subjects of which I had learned while studying Latin and Roman society in school until Caligula, and THAT I credit to Mr. Vidal, who has consistently been nothing but upfront about human sexuality and the consequences of political sociology throughout the lengevity of his amazing career.
Trailer for a Remake of Gore Vidal's Caligula
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