Is Benedetta a True Story? What is truth & fiction in Paul Verhoeven’s movies

Long delay Benedetta, the latest cinematic event from the famous director Paul Verhoeven, is a historical drama that rises to a new level for filmmakers. It’s a story about religion, sex and the failure of institutions, all wrapped up in one. It presents violence, eroticism, and death in a way that only Verhoeven can. It’s a truly unique piece in the director’s already eccentric filmmaking. One of the most remarkable things about it is that much of the film’s wild and chaotic story is drawn straight from the pages of history. It rises from actual events to create a portrait of the times and true story of the iconic subject that gave the film its title.

Movie stars Virginie Efira as Benedetta Carlini, a 17th-century Italian nun who began to experience increasingly vivid and disturbing visions. It is an open question as to whether she is simply having a mental breakdown or whether the sightings are really real. The potential importance of the vision shows Benedetta growing in stature, exposing her personal relationships to greater scrutiny, which subsequently threaten to consume her.

Before we go any further, it’s important to note that this installment offers a fairly comprehensive look at the history that underlies Verhoeven’s story and the direction the film is headed. Therefore, it should be warned that some details of the plot will be revealed from here on out.

SPOILER WARNINGThe film is adapted from the story of the space travel in 1986 Most rogue acts: The life of a lesbian nun in Renaissance Italy by author and historian Stanford Judith C. Brown. The book is taken from the archives to follow the life of Benedetta, a Convent or superioress of a nunnery. Based on New York Times book review, Brown found the documents in the state archives of Florence.


These documents are largely records of “interrogations” or formal interrogations about Benedetta’s life. Investigations ended with her being accused of creating “miracle fraud (including self-inflicted ‘relics’) and having a” erotic affair with another sister on Theatine’s warrant. Most significantly, Brown’s book represents one of the earliest documents on lesbianism in modern Western history and is at the heart of what the film most accurately portrays. At the heart of the story, the relationship between Benedetta and Bartolomea (Daphne Patakia) in the film closely matches Brown’s work and the history being told. Apparently, Verhoeven was Verhoeven, with a lot of creative freedom being included in the film that was not found in the documents of the time.

Pictures via Pathé

Chief among them is the use of a dildo carved from a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary. It’s a comedic device, meant to be a cinematic look at the glorified blasphemy of Benedetta’s sexual emancipation, though not one that was visible in any study. performed during that period. Of course, it is unlikely that such an item was ever mentioned in the recorded history of the era. One can still harbor some hope that it may have in fact existed and disappeared unnoticed, although that is highly unlikely.

Another important aspect is the plague that is ravaging the world. In the film, Benedetta warns that such a plague will come as a punishment for sin. That is supported by historical records, although some sequences of events are rearranged for the purposes of narrative drama. The immediate time that the plague started occurs before much of the actual timeline. Benedetta’s 1619 prediction came true, though not for several years after she said it would. It was not until 1631 that the plague struck.

Image via Pithe Distribution

For investigations, that closely matches the truth (or, at least, Be recorded truth). Benedetta was actually investigated several times for having an affair with another woman in the convent. It was that scrutiny that earned her severe punishment, with historians believing she spent thirty-five years in prison before dying of “fever and stomachaches”. Verhoeven’s film’s ending plays out a little differently, with Benedetta choosing to return to the convent to face the consequences and forego the chance to run away.

The film sets up a much more dramatic sequence of events in the lead up to that eventual return. Benedetta nearly died from her actions and was only saved in time before being completely consumed by the flames. She was only rescued because the whole town decided to rise up and interrupt the proceedings where she was supposed to die. This element of the story is not what the docs tell us, instead it exists to create an intense final act that puts its protagonist in jeopardy. It marks one of many points where Verhoeven shoots things beyond what the grounded facts of the situation have actually told us have happened.

It all becomes part of the film’s overall tendency to take aspects of reality loosely and push them in new directions that suit its narrative purposes. Fundamentally true, Benedetta was a real person who claimed to have visions and was later said to have had a lesbian relationship. However, even if the film’s story is based on facts and takes many key elements from history, it still makes it its own story that either exaggerates or completely separates from the historical record. real history as we know it.

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Bobby Allyn

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