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In 1599 Italy, Beatrice Cenci is the teenage daughter of the crazy landowner and nobleman Francesco Cenci whom he keeps his daughter locked up in the dungeon of his castle for his plaything, sexually abusing her when he feels like it. Beatrice then plots with her stepmother, her besotted servant Olimpio, as well as a local bandit, named Catalano, to plan Francesco's murder.
A terrificly executed period piece from the Godfather of Gore, Beatrice Cenci(1969) is a masterpiece of tragic beauty. This movie is a contradiction to the accusation of Fulci as a misogynist from his later films. Adrienne LaRussa does a nice job in conveying the almost gentle nature of the female protagonist. George Wilson as the father does a good job in portraying someone truly evil. Cries of death to the director were shouted in a theatre due to the film's anti-catholic nature.
The Catholic church is presented in the film with absolute disdain. In fact, they are seen as greedy and hypocritical. Beatrice Cenci(1969), along with The Witchfinder General(1968) are probably the best films dealing with the late middle ages. The direction is nearly perfect, and the story is well done. The film revolves around a labyrinth of flashbacks in the style of Reservoir Dogs(1992). The main source of influence seems to been The play version of The Cenci by Artoud, Antonin as well as the five act play by Percelly Shelly.
There are two films that Beatrice Cenci(1969) compares with. One film is Don't Torture A Duckling(1972) which also deals with Catholic repression. Another film is The Devil's Honey(1986) which deals deals with a woman's urge to be an independant woman. Beatrice Cenci(1969) is not only overlooked by Fulci supporters but by Fulci distractors as well. This movie shows that Fulci was capable of more ambigious and personal films then the many ones that he direct in his career(Its too bad as he had the talent that would have made him one of the best directors of his generation in Italy).
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