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Somewhen in the late Middle Ages: Francesco Cenci (Georges Wilson) has been
killed, & the catholic church, having always lusting after his lands &
money, is quick to bring his whole family to court, & sentencing them to
death by decapitation. But what had happened ?
Don Francesco has
kidnapped & raped a 14-year old girl, & as punishment for that the
church does not only expell him from Rome for the whole summer but also takes a
third of his lands (which the nephew of the pope always wanted to own. At their
summer residence - actually quite a big castle -, Don Francesco's daughter
Beatrice (Adrienne Larussa) becomes more & more repelled by her father's
behaviour, so she figures the only sensible thing to do is to become a nun ...
much to the dismay of her servant Olimpio (Tomas Milian), who is secretly in
love with her ... & much to the dismay of her own father, who decides to -
as a punishment - lock her away into a tiny cell of the castle for the whole
summer to become accustomed to life in the monastery.
has died from a fall from his castle's walls, allegedly because he was drunk,
but suspicions soon arise that servant Olimpio & his cutthroat friend Catalano
(Ignazio Spalla) had something to do with it, & soon an inspector (Umberto
D'Orsi) shows up asking many uncomfortable questions. & soon a confessin is
tortured out of Olimpio, which heavily accuses Beatrice ... who denies
Beatrice & Olimpio are lovers, & eventually
Beatrice & her brother Giacomo (Antonio Casagrande) persuade Olimpio &
Catalano to kill their father for them ... & in the end these 2 plus the
whole Cenci family kill Don Francesco.
Under torture, Beatrice
confesses that she was raped by her father so she would be impure & could
thus not go to the monastery ... for the Roman people that is reason enough to
kill the man & she becomes a sort of heroine, but for the church, still
keen to get their hands on the Cenci fortune, it's reason enough to decapitate
the whole family.
But since the church doesn't want to lose their support
with the people, they pardon Beatrice ... only minutes after she is
A competently made period drama that makes some
inspired use of repeated flashbacks & flashforwards to unfold the story in
full & to shed in the end a light quite different from that in beginning on
the whole story (though the story begins & ends with exactly the same space
in time, Beatrice's decapitation).
What distracts the movie from coming to
full effect though is the central character of Beatrice, who is alternatively
shown as the virginal innocence herself & cold blooded avenging angel, but
despite everything bad that happens to her, no character development is
actually shown - to a point where the audience starts to not care all that much
for her anymore.