Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 14th, 2007
Theatrical Release Dates: Italy, 1969
Director: Lucio Fulci
Cast: Tomas Milian, Adrienne Larussa, Georges Wilson, Mavie, Antonio Casagrande, Ignazio Spalla
DVD Released: February, 2007
Approximate Running Time: 89 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian, Dolby Digital Mono French
DVD Release: Neo Publishing
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (France)
Retail Price: 24.99 €
Synopsis: Francesco Cenci is a corrupt wealthy landowner who refuses too let his daughter Beatrice (Adrienne Larussa) become a nun. He is a sadistic and perverse man who unbeknown to the rest of the family has been having a incestuous relationship with his daughter Beatrice. Wanting to get away from her father Beatrice seduces a servant named Olimpo (Tomas Milian) and together they plot to murder her father.
The year was 1969 and Lucio Fulci had been directing films for decade, still he had yet to make a film that made any breakthrough with audiences outside of his native land of Italy. Earlier in the year he achieved his first international success with the thriller One on Top of the Other and he would follow that up with the masterful period drama Beatrice Cenci. Despite his success this time in his life would mark one of the greatest tragedies of his life the suicide of his wife.
Beatrice Cenci would mark the height of Fulci’s creative powers as he would create a film unlike anything he made before or would ever come close to creating ever again. Every film that followed Beatrice Cenci would see the level of violence increased while the budgets continued to shrink putting a strain on Fulci creatively. That is not to say that there is not a few nasty scenes in Beatrice Cenci like a man being eaten alive by dogs and the torture scene with Tomas Milian’s character Olimpo which is one of the more brutal torture scenes to appear in any Fulci film.
The screenplay for Beatrice Cenci is nearly flawless. There is not a single moment of composition wasted in this film. It is a visual delight that is only further elevated by Fulci’s distinctive style. Fulci also does an admirable job holding back and not overusing or exploiting violence to make up for what ever else the production might be lacking like he would do on so many of his later films. Also like many of Fulci’s best films one must not forget his collaborators and a lot of the beauty of Beatrice Cenci is due to cinematographer Erico Menczer who other work includes Cat O Nine Tails and Professional Killer.
Beatrice Cenci features one of better casts Fulci ever got to work. Tomas Milian who would work with Fulci a few more times gives anther stellar performance as Olimpo the seduced lover turned murderer. Also no one is as Milian convince when being tortured. Adrienne Larussa is surprisingly good in the title role Beatrice Cenci and considering this is one of her first films the end result exceeds all expectations. A lot of her charm admittedly has to due with her enchanting looks which will melt any mans heart. George Wilson plays the role of the incestuous father Francesco Cenci with the right amount of sleaze and sadism.
The films score is sparse. This is a shame since the motifs that do appear through out the film are spellbinding and evocative. Once again we have another film in which the Catholic Church is not shown in a good light and Fulci does a solid job showing the corruption not only with in the church but also in society during this time period. From the outset this is a bleak story with no redeeming character not even the films title character Beatrice Cenci manages to evoke any sympathy even thought she is a victim of sorts. The films final act is the strongest part of the film as we now get to see all the pieces of the puzzle put together.
It si too bad that Fulci’s career didn’t feature more films like Beatrice Cenci and that despite the magic he managed to create out virtually nothing on many of his films that he is not held by many critics and fans in the same regard as many of his contemporaries most notably director Dario Argento. Lucio Fulci spent most of his career in the shadow of Dario Argento which is shame since there is plenty of evidence that Fucli on many levels is the more talented filmmaker of the two. Lucio Fulci is not merely a genre filmmaker he is without a doubt one of Italy’s greatest filmmakers’.
Beatrice Cenci is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The colors look nicely saturated, details look razor sharp and this release is flagged for progressive scan. Overall the source material used looks amazing and there is no print damage to speak of.
This release comes with two audio options Italian and French. Both are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Both audio mixes sound clear and evenly balanced with no audio defects. Removable French subtitles have been included.
Extras include a cast & crew list and filmographies for Lucio Fulci, Tomas Milian, Adrienne La Russa & George Wilson. Other extras include a lengthy thirty six minute audio interview with Lucio Fulci in Italian with French subtitles. During the playback of this audio interview scenes from other Fulci films are played in the background. Fulci talks about various subjects including Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and Dario Argento. Rounding out the extras is a thirty minute video interview with Lucio Fulci who discusses the film Beatrice Cenci, the suicide of his wife and working with Steno as an assistant director. This interview is also only in Italian and removable French subtitles have been included. Both Interviews while interesting cover ground that has been explored before and there is very little new information that comes to light about Fulci or his cinema.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that the French when it comes to cinema are at the head of the pack when it comes to appreciating some of cinema’s greatest auteurs and this time they have championed the cinema of Lucio Fulci one of Italy’s most overlooked directors’. Neo Publishing continues to add titles to their ever growing Lucio Fulci collection and in many cases there edition is the best available on DVD or it is the first time the title has been release don DVD. There latest addition to the Lucio Fulci collection is his rarely seen masterpiece Beatrice Cenci.