As Caravaggio (excellently played by Terry) lies dying at Porto Ercole in 1610, his mind drifts back over a short life of extraordinary passion: his relationship with his model, Ranuccio Thomasoni, who posed perhaps as the muscular assassin in so many 'martyrdom' pictures, and the other apex in the triangle, Lena, who is Ranuccio's mistress and Caravaggio's model for the Magdalene and the dead Virgin. Jarman proposes a murderous intensity as the mainspring for both Caravaggio's love life and for his furious painting, and it certainly carries great weight of conviction. For all the melodrama of the story, however, he has elected a style of grave serenity, composed of looks and glances, long silences in shaded rooms, sudden eruptions of blood. It all works miraculously well, even the conscious use of anachronisms and the street sounds of contemporary Italy. CPea.
Cast and crew
Nigel Terry Nigel Davenport Tilda Swinton Robbie Coltrane Sean Bean Michael Gough