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"What shall it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"

Caligula is a 1979 Italian-American erotic historical drama film focusing on the rise and fall of the Roman Emperor Caligula. It stars Malcolm McDowell, Teresa Ann Savoy, Helen Mirren, Peter O'Toole, John Steiner and John Gielgud. It is the only feature film produced by the men's magazine Penthouse.

It became very controversial for its violent and sexual content and had all sorts of legal issues at the time. The film is now seen as a Cult Classic.

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For the troubled development history, see here.

Tropes used in Caligula include:
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: The head chopping machine is a diabolically crafted work of art.
  • All There in the Manual: According to the production notes, two of the characters played by Penthouse Pets were supposed to be Messalina (who would go onto marry Claudius) and Agrippina (mother of Nero).
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The scene where Tiberius refers to the sex slaves in his bath as his "little fishies". Most viewers would think it's just another one of those over the top sexploitation scenes put in to shock audiences. In actual fact most historians will tell you he did have something like that, and they where mostly little boys. So this is one case where the movie actually toned it down from the real thing.
  • Ambiguously Gay: A gay sex scene involving Gemellus and one of the guards was actually filmed, but left on the cutting room floor. Some hints as to Gemellus's sexual preferences remain in the film, but nothing that specifically identifies him as being gay.
  • Ancient Rome
  • Badass Boast: "I have existed from the morning of the world and I shall exist until the last star falls from the night. Although I have taken the form of Gaius Caligula, I am all men as I am no man and therefore I am a God."
  • Captain Obvious: Despite torturing and killing several people, not to mention making his horse Incitatus a senator, it's only after Caligula declares himself a god in front of the senate Longinus exclaims "he's mad!"
    • In fairness, the stuff Caligula had done until that point was apparently less crazy than what Tiberus had been doing in his final years. Declaring himself a god was probably the first sign that he was truly delusional, as opposed to just being a tyrant.
  • The Caligula: Three guesses, no prizes.
  • Classically-Trained Extra: Half the Cast.
  • Costume Porn: Caligula alone has roughly ten different costumes.
  • Den of Iniquity: Tiberius's mansion.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Caligula.
  • Driven to Suicide Nerva, who has had enough of Tiberius's reign and can't bear the fact Caligula will be the next emperor.
  • Droit du seigneur: Caligula exercises his right by raping both Proculus and his new wife, a pretty sickening thing to do.
  • Epic Movie: Possibly the only Epic Movie (and the only movie starring Malcolm Mcdowell, Helen Mirren, Peter O' Toole and Sir John Gielgud) to feature unsimulated hardcore sex.
  • Everythings Funkier With Disco: The sound track is a combination of the kind of bombastic classical music you expect to see in a Roman period piece, and 70s Porn Music.
  • Fan Disservice: And HOW!
  • A God Am I: "Aye!" "Aye!" "Baaaah!" "Baaaah!"
  • Gorn
  • Heroic BSOD/Villainous Breakdown: Depending on your character interpretation of Caligula, he suffers one of these following the death of Drusilla.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade
  • Hollywood History
  • Infant Immortality: Averted, in a fairly sickening manner during the film's ending.
  • King Incognito: After Druscilla's death Caligula takes to the streets in Rome.
  • Large Ham: Caligula.
  • Male Frontal Nudity
  • "No. Just... No" Reaction: Malcolm McDowell's reaction to the originally scripted scene that would have involved him anally raping Proculus. He eventually agreed to do it, just so long as Caligula was carrying out the rape with his fist rather than his dick (it isn't shown on-screen).
  • Only Sane Man: Nerva seems to be both Tiberius's only real friend and the only person who dares criticize his reign to his face. It still doesn't stop him committing suicide.
  • Plot With Porn
  • Praetorian Guard: This being ancient Rome, they play a pretty big role.
  • The Queen's Latin: Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, Peter O' Toole, and Sir John Gielgud.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Caligula trashes the statue of Isis after Druscilla dies of the fever.
  • Scenery Porn: Say what you will about what's happening in the film, many of the sets are rather beautiful.
  • Schizo-Tech: Wow, they never taught us in history class that the Romans had a giant wall/car/thing with lawnmower blades on the bottom that could move forwards and decapitate people buried up to their necks in the dirt in front of it!
  • The Starscream: Longinus. Macro is set up to be this early in the film, but Caligula decides that he's too much of a potential liability and disposes of him.
  • Take That: According to MalcolmMcDowell's commentary track on the DVD, the scene where Caligula lines people up and has Gemellus identify the culprit who killed Tiberius, was a jab at Guccione who did something similar after one of the dancers shoved one of the Penthouse Pets.
    • Likewise, Tinto Brass used plain-looking people in the orgy scenes and deliberately shot the sexual footage as comical and softcore to spite Guccione. This backfired horribly.
  • Tears of Blood: As seen on most of the film's poster art.
  • Three-Way Sex: At one point Caligula has a threesome with his wife and sister.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: When Caligula comes down with the fever he pukes into the camera.
    • Making matters worse, according to Malcolm McDowell it was real vomit.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity
  • Your Head Asplode: A baby's head is smashed on a staircase. Something the IMDb Parental Guide makes sure to mark as "UNRATED VERY BLOODY DISTURBING.