Caligula uncut: Guccione's x-rated DVD goes on sale





When it was produced in 1979, the film Caligula was meant to be the most lavish historical drama of its day, designed for an art-house audience with star casting and spectacular sets.

The cream of British cinema was enlisted, including Helen Mirren, John Gielgud, Peter O'Toole and Malcolm McDowell, as well as a Hollywood budget of £17.5m and the scriptwriting talents of the acclaimed novelist, Gore Vidal.

It was supposed to chronicle the last four years in the life of the power-mad "viper in Rome's bosom" whose brief reign as emperor ended with his murder in AD 41. The only fly in the ointment was that the film's financier, Bob Guccione, who was also the open-shirted, gold-chain-wearing Penthouse publisher, felt it lacked a certain something.

So two years after the 115-minute R-rated film was released, Caligula's "uncut" version was produced after an hour of hardcore pornographic action which had been secretly filmed by him in 1979, was reinstated into the drama, ranging from lesbian sex to incest and implied bestiality and starring his bevy of "Penthouse Pets".

To lovers of pornography, the move was a stroke of genius. Not so for the critics, the actors, or the art-house audience. The original "sanitised" version had been a critical flop. This second "unexpurgated" version was not even allowed to feature on the big or small screen after being banned by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and deemed by many as "insanely pornographic".

It is only now, nearly three decades later, that the British censors have capitulated. The longer, Imperial Edition of Caligula, will feature the explicit scenes after censors labelled the uncut film as being of "historical interest". The uncut DVD will go on sale with an 18 certificate in high-street shops...




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