I am so fucking tired of my WordPress site going down and losing my data, andYES I did back up the data, but I somehow lost the goddamn backup! FUCK-Fuck-FuCK-fUcK fuCK!
Paul Verhoeven, set his sights on subverting and challenging the structures of religion in his daring “Benedetta,” the explicit sexualization of religion turned out to be but a shallow provocation, in a deep analysis of how implicit gender bias within institutions of faith only leads to violence and abuse. As a recovering Catholic all I have to add is:
Despite my abject love for this movie, there were times when Verhoeven was so busy throwing so many ideas into his intentionally overcrowded screenplay that for some viewers it may have started to feel unfocused.
Benedetta the seems like the kind of film Verhoeven was
destinedto make (But, since I am making a concerted effort to not inclined engage in ‘magical’ thinking as it is something that religion relies on) I will sum-up Verhoeven’s so called ‘Destiny’ to his lifelong secular interest in the life of Jesus Christ as an historical figure.
The movie distills sexuality, corruption, broken systems, and provocation into a fascinating story. that for me absolutely works, and is thoroughly enjoyable.
Benedetta Carlini was a real nun in the early 17th century in Pescia, a small village in Northern Italy. She reportedly had a relationship with one of her nuns (Bartolomea Crivelli) while she was abbess of the Convent of the Mother of God.
The relationship was the best thing happening in Benedetta’s life.
She was stripped of her rank and imprisoned when the Papacy found out about the relationship.
However contrary to reports of imprisonment, Benedetta was not so much imprisoned, but ostracized by the other nuns and forced to live a life of seclusion and solitude.
Prior to her ‘Fall From Grace’ Benedetta reported having visions and even received (Self inflicted) ‘Stigmata’.
In 1619, she claimed to have been visited by Jesus himself, who told Benedetta that she was to marry him. People started to question Benedetta’s proclamations, and the ensuing investigation revealed the forbidden relationship.
Verhoeven adapted this unusual tale, from Judith C. Brown’s book ‘Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy.
He makes his fascination with the body and its functions evident early as two characters have a sort of romantic moment after defecating next to one another (NOT a fan of toilet bowl humor).
It’s actually even earlier than that when a bird shits in a man’s eye and a stage show features a man lighting his farts.
There’s more to it. After all, as a young woman Benedetta is told, “Your worst enemy is your body.” This is a world in which the female body is seen as inherently sinful in all its needs and functions (Talk about projection). Kind OF LIKE today, WOULDN’T YOU AGREE?
Verhoeven seeks to explore the result of placing the body on full display and leaning into carnal desires as filtered through religious iconography.
Virginie Efira is fearless as Benedetta, who is first introduced as a girl, being essentially sold to a convent run by an abbess played by the great Charlotte Rampling.
Even as a child, Benedetta’s body is property, haggled to the convent for the right price. “Benedetta” then jumps forward 18 years as the title character starts to have visions of Jesus. Are these manifestations of Christ real or part of an act?(Spoiler: It’s an ACT)
However in the movie the question of Benedetta’s motives hang in the air of the entire film almost like a mystery.
Verhoeven, at least to this viewer, seems more interested in what they reveal about the world around her than issues of her faith, particularly how those motivations effect the convent and and also vile men like The Nuncio, played by a sneering Lambert Wilson.
ENTER BARTOLOMEA CRIVELLI
Of course, the issues of faith are contrasted against issues of carnality after the arrival of Bartolomea Crivelli (Daphne Patakia) a young woman fleeing her abusive family, and who just happens to be FIRE!
Bartolomea was more worldly than the young women raised in the convent, and quickly becomes an object of desire for Benedetta, who is torn between her lust and her calling.Or, rather it is Bartolomea’s quiet insistence which are delivered in the form of clandestine touches and kisses, that seduce Benedetta, and why wouldn’t she be seduced?
Again, Verhoeven plays with physical extremes in scenes like the one where Benedetta orders Bartolomea to put her hand in boiling water or the one that involves, well, an object of pleasure shaped from a statue of the Virgin Mary (And NO it isn’t Blasphemy, however claiming that a virgin became impregnated by a ghost IS, and calling that ghost Holy doesn’t make it any less blasphemous).
Of course, in one of many of Verhoeven’s touches, Benedetta says ‘Sweet Jesus’ after her first orgasm.
Benedetta once told Mother Felicita (Charlotte Rampling) that “Suffering is the only way to know Christ .”
Mother Theresa also believed such hog-wash, which is probably why she housed those seeking her compassion and empathy in squalid conditions.
It goes without saying that she was an EVIL woman for sure. Instructing her assistants to provide poor standards of care to the sick and dying because…wait for it..’Suffering is the only way to know Jesus’…was she joking?! G.T.F.O.H Terry.
After the sexual relationship develops between our two protagonists things literally start to go to Hell, and around the same time a comet appears in the night sky.
In addition to the aforementioned comet there’s the plague, and because Benedetta’s a whole lot of movie to take in it can start to feel a little shapeless to some viewers.
Even I started to wonder if it’s meant to be taken less seriously than I did at first.
See, I was baptized Catholic, attended Catholic School for my Primary education. I was totally fucking brainwashed, to the point of believing that ALL heavenly deities wereCaucasian, despite being a person of color.
Therefore a sense of GRAVITAS was instilled in me, and still washes over me (Albeit temporarily when the topic of Catholicism arises). That sh!t sticks with you.
In school I took everything very seriously, because one never quite knew when a ruler or even worse a yard-stick would come slamming down on a desk in an unsoliticed affront that was initiated an innocuous gesture (like smiling at another female classmate, I mean after all she was FLIRTING with me).
The stereotypes about nuns are mostly TRUE!!!!
WATCH Benedetta Movie
I’ve added the movie Benedetta to my X-Mas Watch List along with Carol, and LOVE Actually.
Happy Holidays Y’all
I Hope I am careful enough to not only backup these articles, but not accidentally delete or otherwise lose the back-ups because I am fucking sick and tired of rewriting these articles as each and every rewrite loses the initial magic afforded them.