More that forty years after his bitter battle with Bob Guccione over cult classic “Caligula,” Italian director Tinto Brass is still fighting.
Just as Penthouse Films International has unveiled a new cut of the raunchy 1980 epic about the fall of the Roman ruler titled “Caligula: The Ultimate Cut” – that screened on Wed. in the Cannes Classics section with Helen Mirren on hand – Brass has issued a statement distancing himself from this new version of the film and announced that he is taking unspecified legal action.
“After numerous and fruitless negotiations that have followed over the years, first with the Penthouse and then with other unclear individuals, to edit the material that I shot and which had been found in the Penthouse archives, a version has been created on which I did not take part and which I am convinced will not reflect my artistic vision,” Brass, who is 90, said in the statement.
“As is well known, the editing process is what shapes my very personal directorial style. If I can’t edit a film, I don’t recognize it, and I have not acknowledged authorship [of the new ‘Caligula’ cut]. There are numerous versions of ‘Caligula’ edited by others, including Bob Guccione. But none of them correspond to my original project. The Cannes audience will therefore be misled by the arbitrary use of my name,” the director, who is 90, went on to note.
The statement ends with :”For now I won’t add anything else. My lawyers are dealing with the matter.”
There was no immediate comment from Penthouse Films International to whom Variety reached out through the new “Caligula” cut’s publicist.
The big-budget “Caligula” was self-financed in 1980 by Penthouse founder Bob Guccione who after fighting with Brass and screenwriter Gore Vidal wrested control of the project ad tossed out the script, adding adult content that he shot after the actors – who besides Mirren included Malcolm McDowell, John Gielgud, and Peter O’Toole – had finished their shoots. The addition of porn prompted Brass and Vidal to sue to have their names removed from the picture.
Regarding the new dispute one thing is sure, “Caligula: The Ultimate Cut,” which runs 157 minutes and was made using 96 hours of Brass’ original footage, is very different from Guccione’s cut. The revived film’s producer Thomas Negovan “Approached this new version from a neutral perspective,” say the production notes.
“His desire to elevate the actors gives greater strength to the narrative and provides a new approach to the Emperor Caligula’s madness,” they add and go on to point out: “Another feat is that not a single shot from the original film was used, which makes “Caligula – The Ultimate Cut” a completely new feature film.”