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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Biopic > Biography > Painter > Italian > TV Mini-Series > Caravaggio (2007/Italian TV Mini-Series/E1 DVD)

Caravaggio (2007/Italian TV Mini-Series/E1 DVD)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Episodes: C+



The artist who became known as Caravaggio has been the subject of several films and TV projects, including Derek Jarman’s 1986 film that many consider the boldest, but an RAI Italian TV Network 2007 mini-series is certainly as ambitious and both are named after the artist.  Originally intended as a reported six-hour series, the controversial nature and commercial considerations have resulted in versions as short as 130 and 180 minutes.  This new DVD from E1 Entertainment is 211 minutes and it is uneven, but it still feels like something is missing.


Essentially a pricey biopic, the biography begins with young Michelangelo Merisi (long before becoming known as Caravaggio) dealing with his childhood, the events that shaped him and then follows him to maturity, as played by three actors.  Alessio Boni plays him as an adult and is effective enough, but Director Angelo Longoni can’t seem to being more to it that a book-like, chronological telling of the life of the man (down to being nonchalant about his sexuality, at least in this version) just moving along from plot point to plot point from the teleplay by one-time actor James Carrington and Andrea Purgatori.

The result is too constricted to always work and explains why there are so many cuts of it.  The acting is not bad and money is on the screen, but this needed much more and it does not offer it in this (at this time) supposedly second-longest cut.  Jarman may have taken certain liberties to make other points, but this one is too literal for its own good and I can see why it took three years to get to the U.S. on DVD.  Now you can see for yourself.



The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is a little softer than expected for a production shot in 35mm Univisium, co-invented by Director of Photography Vittorio Storaro, which he used on the two ill-fated Exorcist prequels, the 2000 Dune mini-series.  Oddly, it has the same problems the DVD of Dune had, with detail issues that should not be there.  Maybe a Blu-ray would overcome these limits, but this can be trying, especially since this was shot so well.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is better and it sounds like more sound is there than this configuration delivers, so we’ll see how a lossless track sounds on a future Blu-ray.  There are no extras, but a longer version might invite some so we’ll see.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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