|Available on DVD|
|Sean Bean ... Ranuccio|
|Nigel Terry ... Caravaggio |
|Tilda Swinton ... Lena |
|Ian Richardson ... Edward Spencer |
|Michael Gough ... Cardinal Del Monte |
|Dexter Fletcher ... Young Caravaggio |
|Dawn Archibald ... Pipo |
|Directed by ... Derek Jarman|
|Screenplay ... Suso Cecchi d'Amico, Nicholas Ward Jackson, Derek Jarman |
|Partly based on the known facts about the painter's life, the film follows Caravaggio's childhood on the streets of Rome, where he sold his paintings, to his sponsorship by the wealthy Cardinal Del Monte. His models were usually prostitutes and low-life street people, including Ranuccio, a streetwise gambler with whom he becomes infatuated when he hires him as one of his models. His constant companion was a deaf-mute boy he'd bought as a child who fled with him from Rome after Caravaggio killed Ranuccio and fled to Naples where he died a pauper. |
His inauspicious demise was an indirect result of the drama brought about by Ranuccio's prostitute girlfriend Lena when she announces she is pregnant. There is some question as to the identity of the father, since Caravaggio has also fallen in love with her. Lena is later found dead, having drowned in the river, and Ranuccio is arrested and charged with her murder. Caravaggio believes Ranuccio innocent and engineers his release, only to find his model now admits to the killing. Enraged, Caravaggio slits Ranuccio's throat.
It is a film filled with eccentricities, some involving the use of deliberate anachronisms. Caravaggio is credited with inventing chiaroscuro, a style of theatrical lighting employing artfully placed shadows, and this technique is carried over into the actual design of the film, where is used in the live recreation of Caravaggio's paintings.
Filmed, on a shoestring budget of $715,000 from the British Film Institute, in abandoned warehouses along the Thames River in the Isle of Dogs in London. Production began on 02 September 1985 and ended six weeks later.