Screen/Society--"Caravaggio" (Derek Jarman, 1986, 35mm)
(Derek Jarman, 1986, 93 min, United Kingdom, 35mm)
Winner of the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival
Derek Jarman struggled for seven years to bring his portrait of the great Renaissance painter Michelangelo Caravaggio to the screen, producing a critically acclaimed masterwork and powerful meditation on sexuality, criminality and art. Told in flashback as the artist (Nigel Terry) lies dying in poverty, the film brilliantly recreates the look and color of Caravaggio's original paintings while exploring the homoerotic subtext of his work. Speculating on the artist's relationship with his model Ranuccio (Sean Bean), the film explores a vicious love triangle involving the model's wife, played brilliantly by Tilda Swinton in her first feature role. With luscious production design, the dazzling Caravaggio is arguably the most accessible of Jarman's films.
"By the standards normal in British cinema, "Caravaggio" is an enterprise of extraordinary daring and resonance." - John Russell Taylor, Sight & Sound
"Gazing at Jarman's film stills creates a vertiginous sense of collapsing time that pulls us every which way; of all Caravaggio's followers, Jarman, it would seem, was the one who understood him best. Gold. Black. Red. Darkness. Light. It is a cinematic distillation of the artist's visual world." - Maria H. Loh, Frieze