Nostra Signora dei Turchi (Our Lady of the Turks) (1968) - Carmelo Bene

Country: Italian
Language: Italy

Bene’s debut film NOSTRA SIGNORA DEI TURCHI (OUR LADY OF THE TURKS) is one of his signature achievements. The subject was ostensibly the 1480 invasion of Bene’s childhood home Otranto, when the Turkish fleet massacred 800 of the inhabitants, but I admittedly had difficulty discerning any such conception. There’s nothing resembling a narrative, linear or otherwise, with only Bene’s eye-popping pictorial sense—one as stunning as that of any filmmaker since D.W. Griffith—binding together this phantasmagoric swirl of light and sound.

Our Lady of the Turks" is a film that is hard to categorize. Then again Carmelo Bene's films are hard to define. Often beautiful, sometimes boring, somewhat ego-centric and sometimes bitingly humorous. The film starts off as a sort of mocumentary about Ontranto, Italy. This is where the Turks tried to invade 100 years before; killing the Saracens. Then we are treated to Bene in front of the camera in a series of bizarre, surreal images and comical mishaps. Bene's character is taunted by the Madonna. Wherever he goes this beautiful virgin Mary is sure to follow, making his life a real headache. She is symbolic of man's desire and dreams. This is a film where visuals overpower story or lack there of. At first I didn't know how to feel about the film. But to be honest, it was quite a journey with it's bizarre experimental style. Somewhat frustrating but altogether breathtaking. There's simply nothing like it. If you enjoy Fellini or even experimental films by Stan Brakhage; you may find this film interesting.

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English subtitle Included.



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