Institute History

  • 1992 Sundance Film Festival


“Sometimes the most incompatible subjects make the best of friends,” says a character in Caravaggio, Derek Jarman’s fictionalized biography of the great Italian Renaissance painter. He might be describing the film itself, which relies on a fusion of opposites: the historical and the personal; sixteenth-century Italy and contemporary England; elegant prose and colloquial speech; the sacred and the profane; the spiritual and the sensual; and art and life. Jarman has little interest in detailing Caravaggio’s life; instead he focuses on the sensual passions which drove the artist and the man, often putting the two in conflict. The film evolves as a series of flashbacks as Caravaggio lies on his deathbed, abandoned by all but his devoted, mute servant, Jerusaleme. He reflects on his all-consuming obsession with two of his models: the avaricious, yet almost childlike, Lena, and her opportunistic, earthy lover, Ranuccio. They served as subjects for his greatest works, yet loving them almost destroyed him. Caravaggio has the warm, rich look of a Renaissance painting and an inventive sound track which suggests the wider world; it's hard to believe it was shot in a London warehouse on an extremely low budget.

— Barbara Bannon

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]