It is astonishing that this true story would attract so much literary interest through time. It is thought to have been discovered in the Roman archives by Percy Bysshe Shelly, the romantic poet, who turned it into a play in verse. In the 2oth century, Antonin Artaud created a modern version as did the Italian writer, Alberto Morovia. Ginestera’s opera and this film are the latest.
By the time Chase began work on this short film, he had used inter-cutting as a major element in his fragmented narratives. In Rome he was struck by so many carved faces rapt in fear or horror that showed up on buildings, or tucked away in alleyways or on fountains that were always showing up. They seemed like witnesses to violent acts. In contrast to the art and enlightened ideas in the Renaissance, Rome, he learned, was also the center of constant turmoil ––fear, assassination and rage. The real story of Beatrice Cenci reflected this atmosphere of violence, panic and terror.
He began by collecting visual building blocks that would surround the central action, which is the murder of Cenci. But as in Fragments, Chameleon & Clown the central act is never seen, only the anxiety leading up to it, or the emotional toll after the fact. By creating the film as a dream that morphs into a nightmare, he imagined what one of Beatrice’s nightmares might look like.
Count Cenci is only seen twice in the film––in a troubled sleep and waking at the moment of his murder—- but he is surrounded by images of his sons in various stages of anxiety or fear, as their lives were constantly full of his threats, his intimidations and eventually his murders. Movement is used in constant and repetitive inter-cutting techniques, building rhythmic patterns. The characters are forever retracting from or racing toward terrible events that are never literally shown except for one moment when the sounds of his screams are made vivid, before the stake was driven into his head.
THE FILM: BEATRICE CENCI TRT 14:48