Bad habits die hard, as people flock to see the newest nuns behaving badly. That is why the scandalous Benedita is a cinematic win.
Benedetta was the sensational title that got tongues wagging at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, boasting hot lesbian nuns and blasphemous sex with a wooden Virgin Mary icon.
Catholic protesters slammed at New York Film Festival premiere, it proves poorly behaving nuns still have the power to shock – and let’s be honest –
We are happy.
Benedetta is the “true” story of a seventeenth century nun who falls into lust with a novice and announces that Jesus asks her to brush her – a return to the glory days of the “nuns” era in the 1970s.
These are usually low-budget films set in a monastery full of gorgeously fake nuns whose repressed sexuality has found outlets in lesbianism, homosexuality and “body humiliation.”
There’s likely to be a sadistic mother boss (in Benedetta played by Charlotte Rampling) and a lecherous priest, while you can confidently expect the Spanish Inquisition (or its devil-busting equivalent).
Most of the movies are pretty awesome and low-rent but there are some notable exceptions. Director Ken Russell’s The Devils, co-starring Vanessa Redgrave and Oliver Reed, basically set the mold and remained censored for decades due to a thrilling scene that includes a massive cross.
Like Benedetta, directed by Paul Verhoeven (The Showgirls), the tone is deliberately provocative and daring.
Predominantly European, although with a thriving Japanese subgenre, “nuns exploitation” was most likely a reaction against the rise of feminism.
These sisters may do it to themselves (often in a tickle, soft sexual focus) but, as a bride of Christ, their bodies should belong only to God.
On the big screen, naughty nuns in all their forms still obsess over us.
There are nuns singing in The Sound Of Music (1965) and Sister Act (1992). There are old-fashioned British festivals like Nuns On The Run (1990), where Robbie Coltrane and Eric Edel were convicts who dressed cross-legged and hid in a convent. There are also horror nuns, most recently via 2016’s satanic horror The Conjuring 2.
And there’s the enduring ‘nuns and guns’ dynasty exemplified by Lindsay Lohan’s submachine gun The Sister in Machete (2010).
Why the call? Is it corruption of innocence? The inner drama of a closed world order? Those gorgeous monochromatic clothes (and the magic with what lies underneath)?
One thing is for sure, even with the decline of nuns in the real world, when it comes to nuns in movies, we’re not about to kick the habit.
Benedetta is in cinemas now.
On screen naughty nuns through the ages
The Nun and the Devil 1973
The former Miss Great Britain stars in a typical Italian nuns movie that includes hot nuns as well as huge exaggerated amounts of actual nudity, lesbianism, and torture.
Dark Habits 1983
The monastery’s antics come no more than in Pedro Almodóvar’s dark Spanish comedy, in which nuns indulge in LSD and lesbian excursions, coca-docking with prostitutes.
The Sound of Music 1965
The wayward novice Maria cuts her curtains to make a fluffy dress, then seduces her boss with the help of a singing wooden doll – the guitarist!
Vanessa Redgrave’s hunched Sister Jane whips her sisters into a naked demonic frenzy in front of a 17th-century priest of Oliver Reed in Ken Russell’s closely-censored classic cult.
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