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Three-Disc Imperial Edition
CALIGULA, the classic and at the time of it's original release, highly controversial, film is finally being released in a 3 disc DVD set incorporating both the uncensored theatrical version and an alternate pre-release cut featuring never-before-seen footage.
The "Three-Disc Imperial Edition" of Caligula was a pop-culture phenomenon filled with scandal, rumors and controversy since its checkered production history beginning in 1976, this unflinching look at the decadence of ancient Rome remains a fixture in modern society, appearing everywhere from techno and rock performers to a recent star-studded tribute film at last year's Cannes Film Festival.
The deluxe DVD set is highlighted by two newly-recorded, no-holds-barred commentary tracks with the film's stars, Malcolm McDowell (recently seen on NBC's Heroes and HBO's Entourage as well as starring in the Rob Zombie's Halloween) and Helen Mirren (2007 Academy Award and Golden Globe Best Actress Winner for The Queen). The film's original director, cult favorite Tinto Brass, also goes on record in an extensive new filmed interview discussing the making of the film; other new interviews include actors John Steiner, Lori Wagner, and the film's on-set reporter, Ernest Volkman. This release marks the outcome of several months of unprecedented access to the film's vaulted archives, which have remained unseen for nearly three decades.
The film also stars award-winning actor Peter O'Toole (Lawrence of Arabia, Showtime's The Tudors) and Academy Award winner John Gielgud (Arthur, The Elephant Man), and the dazzling production was designed by Academy Award winner Danilo Donati (Life Is Beautiful, Flash Gordon, Fellini's Amarcord).
Caligula is presented in two versions, both newly mastered in high definition from recently uncovered negative vault materials: the unrated, uncensored theatrical version and an alternate pre-release cut featuring never-before-seen footage. Other bonus features include two versions of the "Making of Caligula" documentary (featuring interviews with the stars and filmmakers as well as writer Gore Vidal), hours of never-before-seen deleted and alternate scenes and behind-the-scenes footage, hundreds of revealing photographs from the set never seen by the public, three theatrical trailers, and DVD-Rom supplements including Vidal's original screenplay, an interview with Bob Guccione, three magazine features and more.
Caligula will also be released as single-disc unrated and R-rated editions on October 2, both also remastered in high definition and containing three theatrical trailers.
Starring Malcolm McDowell, Sir John Gielgud, Helen Mirren and Peter O'Toole, CALIGULA is definitely not for the squeamish, or for those who do not wish to be aroused by a movie. In depicting the degradation of Rome in the first century, Guccione and co-producer Franco Rossellini meticulously followed the record set forth by contemporary writers. In doing so, they set off a raging controversy over whether their movie had gone too far.
CALIGULA spares nothing as it takes the viewer deep into the degeneration that was Rome, with shockingly realistic dramatizations of the sexual orgies and wanton cruelty in the courts of emperors Tiberius and Caligula. When the film first opened in February 1979 on the East Side of New York City, authorities tried - unsuccessfully - to close it.
Caligula (Malcolm McDowell) is summoned to Capri by Tiberius (Peter O'Toole), his adopted grandfather. His escort is Macro (Guido Mannari), commander of the Praetorian Guard. Macro seeks to curry favor with Caligula, who will be the next Emperor, by tempting him with the promise of sleeping with Ennia (Adriana Asti), his wife. Frightened, but sycophantically eager to fall in with any mood of the mercurial Tiberius, Caligula has his first glimpse of absolute power as the aged Emperor leads him from his cavernous swimming pool through his grotto of pleasures. There, the two become voyeurs as youths and maidens act out Tiberius' fantasies. Accompanying them is a noble, elderly Senator, Nerva (John Gielgud), the only contemporary intimate of Tiberius who has survived the execution of several Senators, despite the fact, or perhaps because, he is the only one who dares openly to criticize and condemn. When Nerva chooses suicide over a natural death, Tiberius' seemingly ordered life is shaken, and his own death, hastened. Caligula and Macro come to witness the end. They find the old Emperor partially paralyzed, lying alone in the state bedroom. Prematurely, Caligula tears off the signet ring, symbol of power. Tiberius rallies. Macro insures his death by smothering him. A frightened Gemellus (Bruno Brive), Tiberius' grandson by birth, has witnessed the murder.
Caligula, the new Emperor, gains instant popularity by announcing a general amnesty. He accepts the highest office of the Republic, the Consulship, naming his uncle Claudius (Giancarlo Badessi), his fellow Consul and Gemellus as his son and heir. For a time, Caligula is splendidly good-humored, eager to be loved by the people. There is scarcely a hint of the tyrant he will become. One of his first questionable acts is to rid himself of Macro. By promising the Guards a huge pay bonus, he orders them to arrest their commander. Macro is replaced by Chaerea (Paolo Bonacelli). Caligula is free to marry Ennia, now a widow, but Drusilla (Teresa Ann Savoy), his sister and paramour, counsels him to marry a respectable Roman and father an heir. Disguised as a woman, Caligula comes to choose a candidate from among the shapely priestesses in the Temple of Isis. He is attracted - despite Drusilla's protests that she is promiscuous - to Caesonia (Helen Mirren), an eloquent, sensual divorcee, who becomes his mistress, then wife.
The darker side of Caligula begins to show itself as he comes to realize that no one will challenge his absolute power. His terror during a thunder and lightning storm is the first sign of a breakdown. His actions become more and more senseless. His only confidant is his Arab stallion, Incitatus, which he rides into the banquet where Gemellus is one of the guests. In a macabre mood, he accuses Gemellus publicly of treason and has him arrested. As Caesonia's child is being born, Caligula marries her and names the baby his heir. He is enraged to learn the child is a girl and insists on calling her "my son." Drusilla's death soon afterwards leaves Caligula in despair. He proclaims a month of mourning and, distraught, mingles anonymously with his Roman citizens. When Caligula is dragged drunk and dirty into a prison, his signet ring is spotted by a giant (Osiride Pevarello) and his true identity becomes known.
Back in the Senate, Caligula proclaims himself a god and awards free games and food to every citizen. When Longinus (John Steiner), his treasurer, protests, Caligula shows him how easy it is to replenish the Imperial purse. He builds a ship in the palace that is to be used as a brothel. Forcing the wives and daughters of his Senators into prostitution, Caligula himself collects the fees from citizens eager to sample their betters. His final public act of madness is to proclaim his horse Incitatus a Senator. Destiny catches up with Caligula at the age of 29, after a rule of three years, ten months and eight days. Chaerea, Longinus and the Imperial physician Charicles (Leopoldo Trieste) have quietly organized his assassination. It is a vengeful Chaerea whose sword brings down the Emperor. To insure that none of Caligula's line will follow him to power, Caesonia and Julia, her child, are also put to the sword. A new era in Rome will begin with the new Emperor - the unwilling, dull-witted Claudius.