Caravaggio (1986) - full transcript

Fictionalized biopic of famed 17th century Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio. As a young man, he gained the support of Cardinal Del Monte and Caravaggio proceeded to develop a new style of painting giving a more realistic view of the world in which he lived. He also begins love affairs with one of his models, Ranuccio as well as with Ranuccio's girlfriend Lena. Their relationship leads to murder and deceit. - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food
'Malta, Syracuse,
Messina, Naples.

'Porto Ercole, July 18th, 1610.

'Four years on the run.

'So many labels on the luggage
and hardly a friendly face.

'Always on the move.

'Running into the poisonous blue sea,
running under the July sun.


'Salt water drips from my fingers,

'leaving a trail of tiny tears
in the burning sand.

'The fishermen carry me high
on their shoulders.

'I can hear you sobbing, Jerusaleme.

'Rough hands warm my dying body,
snatched from the cold blue sea.

'They're rowing me back to the village.

'Their breath warm on my blue lips.

'I am dying in time
to the plash of their oars.

'If arms as steady as these
had embraced me in life...

'To think, Jerusaleme, our friendship
should end in this room,

'this cold white room
so far from home.'

The stars are the diamonds of the poor.

The rich men hide
their diamonds in vaults.

Embarrassed to compare them
with the riches of the Lord

that sparkle in the sky.

The gentleman is conferring
a great honour on our family.

Be faithful and honest,
like the men of our country.

'Poor dumb
Jerusaleme, no use as a shepherd.

'You looked a true St John brought
from the wilderness.

'I taught you the colours
and how to grind them.

'The blood red cinnabar and verdigris
ground in poppy and linseed.

'The art of priming and glazing
with soft squirrel brushes.

'A companion in my loneliness.'

'Now I am counting the sheep

'on the hillside above our house.

'Pasqualone sometimes
counts them with me.

'His hand parting my hair like the ripple
at the bottom of the ocean.

'Far below,
my mother waves a white sheet.'

"'Bedtime, Michele!"

"'Michele! Michele!"

'Her voice floating like the silver
Mass bell in the evening air.

'My true love Pasqualone laughs.

"'Bedtime, Michele of the shadows."

'We turn slowly home,
the stones clattering under our feet.'

'The white sheet is swallowed
in the twilight.

"'Pasqualone! Pasqualone!"
the mountains echo.

'Then the darkness comes.'

- How much?
- 50.

That's steep.

Have you more at home?

It'll cost you.

Oggetto d'arte!

E io sono molto caro.

In plain English, mate, I'm an art object
and very, very expensive.

You've had your money's worth.

'I built my world
as divine mystery.

'Found the god in the wine,
and took him to my heart.

'I painted myself as Bacchus
and took on his fate.

'A wild orgiastic

'I raise this fragile glass
and drink to you, my audience.

'Man's character is his fate.'

Why did you paint the flesh so green?

I have been ill all summer, Excellency.
It's true to life.

- And art?
- It isn't art.

I see.

A most interesting idea.

- What is your name?
- Michelangelo da Caravaggio.



"No hope, no fear."

The motto is rather extreme...

...and the knife is illegal.

The price of the painting is my knife.

I see.

Show me the painting.

What have you written on the music?

"You know that I love you."

'Save to the like.

'Believe that nothing is...

'...imp... impossible for you.

'Think yourself immortal...

'...and capable of...

'...understanding all.

'All arts, all sciences...

'...the nature of...

'...ev... every living thing.

'Mount higher
than the highest height.

'Descend lower than the lowest depth.'

Heraclitus put it differently.

"The way up and the way down
are one and the same."

Bruno is repeating an old truth
in new language.

That is the task.

Simple, you could say.

But nothing is more difficult
than simplicity.

"Matter is in life."

'God! All these quotes.

'I could build
the Tower of Babel with them.

'Perhaps he'll talk himself to sleep.'

"...infinite, living atoms
floating like dust in a shaft of sunlight."

That, of course, is heresy.

The enemies of Bruno say
that ideas like that

"will make the fixed stars of Aristotle
fall from the heavens...

"...and the world wander,
turning round on itself...

" a dizzy boy."

'Time to go!'

You can break the pose
for a moment now.

How's it coming?

It's a piece of cake.

- You're well fixed.
- Can't complain.

How long have you been here?

- What, in Rome?
- Yeah.

Four years.

What's that cardinal after?

Him? Fuck all.

A few cheap thrills.

- What else?
- You must be joking.

What's his taste in music?



You won't get anywhere with him.

- You noticed.
- Noticed?

- What's his name?
- Ranuccio.

He's not been here before, has he?

You're not seeing straight.

- You want the impossible.
- Don't you?

- Why don't you paint him?
- You think it's that easy?

It wouldn't be the first time.

- The wine's free.
- Yes.

You really want to pay, don't you?

No, Davide. I don't want to pay.

Oh, it's true love, then.
Love at first sight.

All right, you've talked me out of it.

I'm sorry.

Oh, fuck it.

- What have you been up to?
- Nothing much.

How is the painting?

The painting?

Do you want to know?

The painting is on the rocks.

St Matthew himself couldn't save it.

It's the most successful fucking disaster.

I should have set my easel up
in the Colosseum.

What are you doing later?

Coming back with you.

You're paid to be still!

'A cold blue doubt,
an infinity of uncertainty.

'A black tide ripples
against arsenic highlights.

'The dark is invading.

' Esse in anima.

'To be of violent soul.

'Your master eats with sinners.

'The healthy don't need a doctor,
only the jaundiced sick.

'And the gods?

'The gods have become diseases.

'Thought without image.

'Lost in the pigment,
trapped in the formless umber wastes.'

The 1500s are over!

Ring in the new!

Long live the 1600s!

Uncertainty and doubt.
Long live doubt.

Through doubt comes insight.

'Upon my bed at night,
I sought him whom my soul loves.

'I sought him, but found him not.

'I called him, but he gave no answer.

'I will rise now and go about the city.

'In the streets and the squares,
I will seek him whom my soul loves.

'I sought him, but found him not.'

Come on, then!

Blood brothers.

- You're in love with him!
- With his money!

- You're in love with him.
- He hasn't fucked me... Yet.

Fucking rent boy.
Pay off your fucking gambling debts.

Piss off, will you?
It's my business.


He loves me?
He loves me not?

He loves you not.

In the wound, the question is answered.

All art is against lived experience.

How can you compare flesh and blood
with oil and ground pigment?

'The room turns slowly.

'I steady myself,
staring into the blue void.

'Dull metallic flies cluster
like rotted grapes

to the buzzing iridescent sun.

'The sun keeps time to the beat
of the old clock deep in the church.

'The clock is as old as time itself.

'Pasqualone says

"'Old Father Time cut its wheels
from a cedar in the garden of Eden."

'The flies scatter
as my shadow falls across them.

'The dead rat grimaces.

"'Time stops for no man"
says Pasqualone.

'The rat played out his life
on the cogs of the great wooden clock

'quite carelessly.

"'Time stops for no man,
not even the sun"

'says Pasqualone.

'My shadow passes.
The flies spiral back.

'Pasqualone yawns into the blue sky.'

I do adore strawberries.

One feels so wicked
eating them out of season.

My dear Francis,
you haven't tried pepper?


Expensive, but perfect.

What an extravagant idea.

Sometimes the most incompatible
subjects make the best of friends.

I spent the morning at the Vatican.

We're very concerned about
the rates of your new loan proposal.

They're extraordinarily high.

As indeed
are Michele Caravaggio's fees.

The St Matthew looks
so very well in the gallery.

It was a godsend that
the priests of San Luigi hated it so much.

I'm commissioning something
quite different this time round.

Profane Love.

Perfect subject for our genius.

Michele's invited me to my unveiling.

He's invited youse, too.

Both of us?

You heard him.

They're expecting the Pope!

- Oh, really?
- Yes, really.

In a fancy dress.

Well, you won't have to change,
will you?

Michele's buying a costume for you.

What more do you want?

Much more than you can imagine.

I've been to one of these parties.

I was picked up by a talent scout,
an evil queen called Ambrogia,

and told that
if I breathed a word of what I'd seen,

my life would be worth no more
than a strand of spaghetti.

At midnight, the Holy Father arrives
dressed as a hairy satyr.

Wearing the triple tiara.

A very good evening to you,
Your Holiness.

Oh, excellent!

Take your fucking hands off me!


Lady Elizabeth, allow me to introduce
the hero of the hour.

Michelangelo Caravaggio.

You're not related, are you?

Lady Elizabeth is
a great admirer of Michelangelo.

Such a sweet man.
So clever with his hands.

Ice cream?

Just another party, Johnny.
Just another party.




Scipione, may I introduce you to
my charming friend Lena?

He's the nephew of our dear Pope.

Mercury invented the arts
with an act of theft.

It takes a thief to catch a thief.

Give me your hand.

Come on.

For eternity and a day.

Madonna, Queen of Heaven.

The agony of fashion!

Ugly, isn't it?

Nice frame.

Splendid, keep up the good work.

Virgins are expensive.

You are my St John...

...and this is our wilderness.

'With the support of his card...

'With the connivance of his cardinal,

'this second
Michelangelo stole the commission

'for the paintings of St Matthew.

'A conspiracy between church and gutter.'


'Those who love art
must be alerted to this poison,

'which seeps into the body of
our renaissance like a pernicious drug.

'The shadows which permeate his
paintings are no less insidious

'than those which cloak
his ignorance and depravity.'


'A sad...


'...of our...


'Pasqualone yawns into the blue sky.

"'Time stops for no man"
he says caressing himself.

'I watch the ripples in his trousers.

"'Can I put my hand in?"

'The words fall over themselves
with embarrassment.

'Pasqualone sighs and removes
his hand without looking at me.

'I kneel beside him
and reach timidly into the dark.

'There are holes in his pocket,
my hand slides in.

'His cock grows warm in my hand.

'Pasqualone says
his girl Cecilia holds it harder.

"'Harder Michele."

'The air hisses through the gap
in his golden teeth.

'Touch mine! Touch mine!

'But my mouth is dry
and the words refuse to come.

'An ice-cold bead of sweat forms
and trickles down my back.

'The seed spurts.

'His body tightens. He swallows.
"Harder, Michele, harder!"

'The violent words fly around me

'like the marble splinters
in my father's workshop,

'stinging my cheek.

'Do it.

'Do it now.'

Do you want to stop for a while?


Bring some water.

What's wrong with my Magdalene?

It's my child.

I'm pregnant.

She's pregnant.

Fucking marvellous!

You piss artist.

It's going to cost you.

I hope I wasn't interrupting anything.

You're back!

Not back.
Just visiting.

- Whose child is it?
- Mine.

What about us?

Well, you have Michele.

I have Scipione.

And the child...

The child...

...shall be rich...

...beyond avarice.

'Your hair streams
out, dark as the medusa weed.

'Your fingers are cold.

'The cold is invading.

'Your blood runs slow.

'The life is washed away.

'A child's castle drifting in the foam.

'My heart misses a beat.

'I reach out to you, my Magdalene,
drowned in the waters of forgetfulness.'


No peace for the wicked.



And God shall wipe away
the tears from their eyes.

And there shall be no more death,
neither sorrow or crying.

Neither shall there be any more pain,
for the former things have passed away.

I'm innocent. He killed her.

I never touched her. Never!
She was killed by Scipione Borghese.

- Get your hands off him! He's innocent.
- Michele!

Fuck you!

I'm innocent.
That bastard murdered her!

That fucking bastard.

'Look! Look!

'Alone again.

'Down into the back of the skull.

'Imagining and dreaming...

'...and beyond the edge of the frame...


'The black night invading.

'The soot from the candles
darkening the varnish,

'creeping round the empty studio,

'wreathing the wounded paintings...

'...smudging out in the twilight.

'Sharp knife wounds
that stab you in the groin,

'so you gasp and gulp the air,

'tearing your last breath from the stars

'as the seed runs
into the parched sheets

'and you fall into the night.

'I float on the glassy surface
of the stilt dark lake

'lamp black in the night,

'silent as an echo,
a mote in your eyes.

'You blink and send me spinning.

'Swallowed in the vortex,
I shoot through the violent depths.

'The unutterable silence
of these waters.

'A tear forms and drops.

'The ripples spread out beyond
the farthest horizon.

'Beyond matter, scintilla, star...

'...I love you more than my eyes.'

I've trapped pure spirit in matter...

...and what should have no value,
and grow like the lilies of the field... horribly perverted...

...and placed high
on the altars of Rome in mockery.

God curse you!


Years ago, when we met,
I dreamed of paintings I could love.

His cardinal should buy him a vineyard.

Some more wine, Michele?

Lambrusco, Frascati, Lacryma Christi...

...wines from the Veneto,
wines from Sicily.

But, for the discerning, stronger than
the sun in July, richer than the Vatican,

we have the establishment's own
Vino del Moro.

These fucking artichokes
are swimming in rancid oil.


Michele Caravaggio.

The Holy Father and myself are prepared
to turn a blind eye to Sodom,

provided you make it worth it
by bringing the riffraff back to church,

and placing them in awe
of the power of the Holy Father

who is, of course, the sole interpreter

of the life of our Lord Jesus
here on earth.

And, Michele, I must advise you

that these slanders against
my personal life must stop.

You address His Holiness
as "Your Holiness"

and kiss his ring without touching it
when he extends his hand.

Michele Caravaggio...

...egregio in urbe pictor.

Your Holiness.

I hear you're a bit of a rascal.

One of the family...
Scipione says you paint quick.

The quicker the better.
I have a bloody war on my hands.


Thought so.

The bloody Tomassoni affair,

that prostitute in the Tiber.

I know you've been putting it about
that my nephew did her in.

Well, if the portrait looks good,
you can have him and good luck to you.

Revolutionary gestures in art
can be a great help to us.

Bet you hadn't thought about that,
you little bugger.

Keeps the quo in the status.

Never heard of a revolution
made with paint brushes.

You're out!

You pulled it off!

Fucking brilliant!

We've tricked the bastards.

What do you mean?

Tricked them?

Michele, are you blind?

I did it for you.

For love!

- For what?
- Love.

- You murdered her?
- For you.

- For us.
- You murdered her.

'The first light of dawn

'falls through the open window
of my bedroom.

'a swallow flies in and swoops,
dark as an arrow, along the beam,

'landing with its wings spread black
as a crucifix on the wall.

"'Itys, itys, itys" the swallow whispers.

'The golden dust cloud eddies
in the rush of air.

'I lie, eyes open, facing the ceiling
on the great wooden bed

'which is the barque that bears me
across the ocean of night.

'I bury my head in the pillow

'and dream of my true love,

'I am rowing to you
on the great dark ocean,

'you soar dolphin-like
out of my sight, laughing.

'Dolphins are not caught with smiles
but cruelly with hooks, Michele.

'One day you will learn to be cruel.

"'Michele! Wake up!"

'Cecilia stands in the doorway

'holding her feather duster
on its long bamboo pole.

'She leaps cat-like at the swallow,

'swishing her broom through the dusty
stars like a palm tree in the sirocco.

'The spell is broken.

'Pasqualone stands at the window...


- Pasqualone!
- Michele?