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Caligula (1979)

Caligola (original title)
Unrated | | Drama, History | 15 February 1980 (USA)
Details the graphic and shocking, yet undeniably tragic story of Rome's most infamous Caesar, Gaius Germanicus Caligula.


Tinto Brass


Gore Vidal (adapted from an original screenplay by), Masolino D'Amico
607 ( 64)

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2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Malcolm McDowell ... Caligula
Teresa Ann Savoy ... Drusilla
Guido Mannari Guido Mannari ... Macro
John Gielgud ... Nerva
Peter O'Toole ... Tiberius
Giancarlo Badessi Giancarlo Badessi ... Claudius
Bruno Brive Bruno Brive ... Gemellus
Adriana Asti ... Ennia
Leopoldo Trieste ... Charicles
Paolo Bonacelli ... Chaerea
John Steiner ... Longinus
Mirella D'Angelo ... Livia (as Mirella Dangelo)
Helen Mirren ... Caesonia
Rick Parets Rick Parets ... Mnester (as Richard Parets)
Paula Mitchell Paula Mitchell ... Subura Singer


The rise and fall of the notorious Roman Emperor Caligula, showing the violent methods that he employs to gain the throne, and the subsequent insanity of his reign - he gives his horse political office and humiliates and executes anyone who even slightly displeases him. He also sleeps with his sister, organises elaborate orgies and embarks on a fruitless invasion of Britain before meeting an appropriate end. There are various versions of the film, ranging from the heavily truncated 90-minute version to the legendary 160-minute hardcore version which leaves nothing to the imagination (though the hardcore scenes were inserted later and do not involve the main cast members). Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


What would you have done if you had been given absolute power of life and death over everybody else in the whole world? See more »


Drama | History


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Italian | English

Release Date:

15 February 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Caligula See more »


Box Office


$17,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (R-rated) | (recut) | (re-release) | (original)

Sound Mix:

Mono (original release)


Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The principal cast members agreed to do voice re-recording sessions only if Producer Bob Guccione's inserts would be left out of the final cut. He obliged, and the actors and actresses worked with a cut of the movie that was free of the six-minute re-shoots. However, once they were done, Guccione proceeded to add the inserts back into the movie. See more »


Caligula is stabbed many times by the guards, yet his robe shows no signs of damage. See more »


[first lines]
Caligula: I have existed from the morning of the world and I shall exist until the last star falls from the night. Although I have taken the form of Gaius Caligula, I am all men as I am no man and therefore I am a God.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits of the Russian release mistakenly list Tinto Brass as the "camera operator," while Bob Guccione and Giancarlo Lui are given the honour of being listed as the "directors." See more »

Alternate Versions

The first R-rated cut to be released (October 1981) cut 51 minutes of footage (much of it for continuity purposes) and contained many alternate angles. It had the following changes:
  • The opening scene is trimmed; instead of panning from the herd of sheep to Caligula and Drusilla lying on the ground, looking at the leaves, then getting up to chase each other, it's simply a cut from the herd of sheep to Caligula and Drusilla getting up. Later in the scene, they cut back to the herd of sheep to hide the cutting of Caligula sucking Drusilla's breast. The final several seconds of the scene are also cut to avoid exposing Drusilla's genitalia.
  • The scene following the credits is shortened; it cuts from Drusilla saying "he's not!" to Macro entering the room. Several shots are juggled around, and Caligula's line "Macro!" is moved to a different shot. The final few seconds of the scene are trimmed, calling for a much quicker dissolve than in the original cut.
  • The start of the scene in which Caligula is being carried to the palace while nude slaves work on the road is trimmed to avoid showing male genitalia.
  • The scene by Tiberius's pool includes many alternate angles, juggled shots, and rearranged dialogue to avoid showing male genitalia (and a new laugh is dubbed over at the end as Tiberius exits the pool).
  • The scene in Tiberius's grotto is almost entirely alternate angles in the segments involving the drunk soldier, and in the pleasure building. As well, many shots and lines of dialogue are juggled around.
  • The scene in which Caligula expresses his fears of being killed by Tiberius to Drusilla, and where he is frightened by a black bird is cut entirely.
  • In the "morning at Capri" scene, several shots exposing genitalia are cut, as is the brief scene of three senators bathing in red mud, and Caligula's fantasies of torturing people.
  • The entire scene where Charicles explains the condition of Tiberius to Caligula, and in which Macro swears his allegiance to Caligula is cut.
  • The "coronation" scene is trimmed by excluding a brief moment in which Caligula stops in the middle of his speech to sniff a white object in Drusilla's hand.
  • The two explicit shots of fellatio behind the moon face in Caligula's bedroom are cut.
  • The entire scene where Caligula "judges" a land dispute is cut.
  • The entire scene where Caligula banishes Ennia and hears about Macro's sentence is cut.
  • The Temple of Isis scene is trimmed to remove graphic sex, and is shortened; the scene ends with Caligula saying it is "perfect" that Caesonia is the most promiscuous woman in Rome.
  • The "killing machine" scene is trimmed to remove all but one quick shot of decapitation. The shot of Macro being beheaded is replaced with a long shot of the same act. Also, the dissolve between this scene and the next is cut.
  • The rape of Livia and Proculus is drastically shortened-the scene ends on a close-up of Proculus just after Caligula tells Livia to take off her clothes.
  • The scene where Caligula does his "little boots" dance in the rain is shortened to remove nudity. The sex scene between Drusilla, Caesonia, and Caligula (as well as between Messalina and Agrippina) is cut altogether.
  • The entire sequence with Caligula getting sick, his recovery, as well as when he signs documents and executes Proculus (then sees the black bird again) is deleted, but the shot of the crowd outside the palace is kept, and used as an establishing shot for the next scene.
  • The scene where Caesonia gives birth is trimmed to remove the exposure of the infant's head coming through the vagina.
  • The scene where Caligula licks Drusilla's corpse is parially at an alternate angle.
  • The shot of Caligula wandering the streets with several women crouching in the background was cut.
  • The scene where Longinus discusses Caligula's whereabouts with Caesonia is cut.
  • The jail scene is shortened to remove the giant's coin trick.
  • The Imperial Bordello scene uses many alternate angles, and deletes all but a few seconds of the Guccione inserts.
  • The Battle of Britain scene is missing a brief conversation between Chaerea and Caligula.
  • The Celebration scene is shortened to remove shots of pearls mounted in vaginas, and has the end missing; The scene ends just after Caligula shouts "EAT!"
  • Caligula, Caesonia, Julia, and the giant's death scenes are all trimmed to remove more graphic moments (i.e. Julia's head against the stone, closeups of Caligula being stabbed by the guards, etc).
See more »


Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Brutes and Savages (2007) See more »


(Cinderella) (uncredited)
Written by Sergei Prokofiev
Conducted by Bruno Nicolai
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

* out of 4.
4 June 2002 | by brandonsites1981See all my reviews

Big budget disaster doesn't work despite a terrific cast and a script by Gore Vidal. This historically inaccurate (for the most part) film is about emperor Caligula's brief reign of terror in which he threw orgies (his bisexuality is very played down in this film) and murdered people for his own amusement. Poor sets, even worse costumes (or lack of), and one of the most inept directors in history sink it. Sick, disgusting, and vile movie with no redeeming qualities.

Unrated (156 mins.); Extreme Graphic Violence, Strong Explicit Sexual Content, Graphic & Explicit Nudity, Strong Adult Themes, Torture. Would merit a triple X.

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