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Caravaggio

Directed by Derek Jarman.
With Nigel Terry, Sean Bean, Tilda Swinton.
UK, 1986, 35mm, color, 93 min.
Print source: HFA

Q is for Queer Renegades

The late British filmmaker and artist Derek Jarman was drawn to the early-seventeenth-century figure of Caravaggio not only because of the Renaissance master’s skill with the highly cinematic technique of chiaroscuro but, more so, for the outsider status the artist achieved through his indulgences in the Roman demimonde, whose murderers and prostitutes became models for his paintings of saints and madonnas. The film is a highly episodic portrait of the painter rendered through a series of tableaux that probe his complex relationship with the violent young gambler Ranuccio and his female lover. Eschewing exteriors and location shots and using dialogue sparingly, Jarman created one of his most visually arresting and personal works—one that allowed him to "recreate many details of my own life and, bridging the gap of centuries and cultures, to exchange the camera with a brush."

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Devour the Land: Cinema, landscape, history.