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Caligula: The Ultimate Cut trailer promotes August theatrical screenings

Trailer: the infamous Caligula has been reconstructed as Caligula: The Ultimate Cut, which is set for a theatrical and 4K release

UPDATE: A trailer for Caligula: The Ultimate Cut has been unveiled and can be seen at the top of this article. Graphic artist Bill Sienkiewicz has also created poster art that can be seen at the bottom of this article.

Directed by Tinto Brass from a screenplay by Gore Vidal (which many people tinkered with while bringing it to the screen), the 1979 film Caligula was the most expensive independent film in cinema history – but the story told in the film was overshadowed by the behind-the-scenes story. As a press release notes, “Penthouse founder (and the film’s financer) Bob Guccione seized control of the negative, randomly inserting graphic scenes of unsimulated sex and gratuitous violence. The cast and film team disavowed what had become a blatant desecration of Vidal’s themes, and Vidal sued to have his name removed from the project. The extensive coverage of behind-the-scenes notoriety also had an unexpected effect: the film was a box office success.” Last year, Caligula: The Ultimate Cut had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, and this version of the movie was described as a “miraculous reconstruction” that is “comprised of 100% of never-before-seen footage, uses alternate takes and camera angles, and features – for the first time – the complete film narrative.” Now Drafthouse Films has acquired Caligula: The Ultimate Cut, with the plan being to give the movie a theatrical release in North America on August 16th. That will be followed by a 4K UHD and digital release.

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The press release promises, “The UHD Blu-ray will have a slew of special features, notably new interviews with star Malcolm McDowell and the film’s reconstructionist, art historian Thomas Negovan.”

Drafthouse Films CEO Nick Savva provided the following statement: “Caligula is a unique piece of cinema history and I am honored to be a part of its journey back to the big screen. Audiences should strap in and prepare themselves for a three-hour epic extravaganza like no other. They truly don’t make them like this anymore.

Negovan added: “Drafthouse Films is a beacon of excellence and taste in independent cinema, and in the three years while I was constructing the film I hoped that they would be involved in bringing Caligula: The Ultimate Cut to American audiences. I am breathing an enormous sigh of relief that this new look at a legendary film is in their hands!

Before Guccione messed with it, Caligula was meant to be “an epic showcase of the generation’s finest talent, addressing the corrupting influence of power amid the rampant sexuality of the Roman court.” In addition to Malcolm McDowell, the film stars Dame Helen Mirren, Peter O’Toole and Sir John Gielgud. “Caligula: The Ultimate Cut aligns closely to Vidal’s original script, especially with the addition of a prologue that illustrates one of Vidal’s missing scenes, created by noted graphic artist Dave McKean. Additionally, there is a new wraparound score by composer Troy Sterling Nies. Nearly 100 hours of original footage was discovered by Negovan in the Penthouse archive. He also showcases astounding performances from the film’s cast, fully realizing McDowell’s complex, charismatic Caligula and resurrecting Mirren’s layered character arc, which now cements the film’s final hour.”

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McDowell had this to say: “Caligula is certainly among the most demanding and challenging roles I’ve ever undertaken, so it was a great surprise to learn and then see that the work would finally be rewarded in a complete reconstruction that honors the serious intentions of the talent in front of and behind the screen. I never thought my full performance would ever be seen or Helen Mirren’s moving, commanding Caesonia would at last be unearthed. It is an unprecedented odyssey.

Are you glad to hear that Caligula: The Ultimate Cut is getting a North American theatrical release, followed by a 4K release? Share your thoughts on this one by leaving a comment below.

Caligula: The Ultimate Cut trailer promotes August theatrical screenings

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