Movie Review: Caravaggio

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
Derek Jarmanís Caravaggio is a fictionalized film made in 1986 about the Italian Baroque artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, a tormented and daredevil artist who drew religious paintings that among other locations adorned the churches of Rome and who was the most important painter in Rome during the 17th century. Nigel Fletcher plays Caravaggio, who uses street people as models for his paintings. The film features a young Tilda Swinton in her film debut who plays Lena, the girlfriend of Ranuccio Tomasson played by a young Sean Bean. A love triangle between Lena, Caravaggio and Ranuccio develops though Caravaggio is clearly obsessed with the good looks of Ranuccio - a fighter who Caravaggio later kills unintentionally in a brawl. This after a series of intrigues in which both Ranuccio and Lena pose for him, Ranuccio as St Matthew's killer and Lena as the Magdelene. Lena is introduced to papal circles and later drowned. In a recent documentary produced on the late British filmmaker, an openly gay man who died of AIDS in 1994, Swinton revealed that without her work with Jarman her career in commercial film would have never taken off. The film is by no means linear and shows glimpses of the artistís life Ė as young Caravaggio who sells his body as a boy and as a grown man who takes a young boy out of his home to become his servant for life - someone who is faithfully by his side till the end. His personal torment is shown from his upbringing to his deathbed in a life in which his contemporaries regarded him as deeply depraved. Homoeroticism imbues the film,which Jarman develops abundantly. Jarman made Caravaggio at a time when the British Film Institute and Channel Four supported artistic expression in filmmaking. The art direction is carefully developed and sparse without a big budget but the composition of each frame is exquisitely utilized. The credits include Sandy Powell who did costume and the distinguished Italian screenwriter Suso Cecchi d'Amico who among other projects wrote the script for Vittorio de Sicaís The Bicycle Thief . Together with Jarman and Nicholas Ward Jackson she wrote Caravaggio .

For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan , Stockholm SWEDEN
More Information:
UK- 1986