Caligula: The Ultimate Cut…A Necessity?

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Ah, the trouble we NJ youth could get up to back in the 80s…

A group of my buddies stuffed ourselves into one car and drove from Clifton into the big bad Manhattan Apple one Friday evening to catch a showing of Caligula. The infamous film about the Roman court, starring one of all of our all-time favorite actors, Malcolm McDowell, was being shown in a Times Square Theatre (this is before the Giulianizing of the city, so things were still slightly seedy and dangerous in that area) on what I think was some sort of rerelease of the film…I don’t believe we were seeing it on its first run in 1980.

Caligula has earned its fair share of controversy and detractors, and I can’t say I thought much more of it than that it was quite a mess. I just learned though that in August the film is being rereleased into theaters as Caligula: The Ultimate Cut. Supposedly new scenes have been added from near 100 hours of found footage, with the film’s narrative now complete in this new version.

I’m not sure I could sit through Caligula again though…restored or reconstructed. Although McDowell is a hoot, and there are some wild scenes of debauchery and bigtime thespians like Helen Mirren, Peter O’Toole and Sir John Gielgud are in the movie, I just remember my buddies and me, interested in good movies as we were then as we are now, not really being able to get past the in-your-face orgies. And for hetero guys in their 20’s, chomping at the bit at the time to see some naked female flesh, Caligula certainly sported the body count. It’s just that it was just too disjointed and seemingly pleased with itself over how wild it was to deliver in any lasting way where any of us left the theatre that night thinking we had seen a good film.

So, hat’s off to you if you go and plunk down your cash to see Caligula: The Ultimate Cut in August. I do remember the movie, but more for the fun it was driving into the city with my buddies, less for the film.

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