Don Giovanni, a baroque and claustrophobic take on the incest episode of Mozart’s opera, features Bene as the eponymous Don, who spends much of the 72-minute running time crawling through a twisted heap of barbed wire. It follows the non-linear contours set by the earlier films, but new elements are introduced: a deliberately artificial stage-bound setting and a simultaneously eye-pleasing and off-putting color scheme utilizing splashes of red amidst near-bilious shades of orange. Don Giovanni is ultimately most significant as the jumping-off point for its creator’s drift away from the real-life settings and concerns of his previous films toward a hermetic arena of pure expressionism, a tendency that reached its apex in Bene’s next and most astonishing film.
Carmelo Bene is certainly the last great artist of our 20th century literary world: the publication of his complete works by Bompiani in 1995 – allowing him to proudly call himself “a living classic” – can be considered proof that even the official culture accepts this fact as a clear and and unquestionable truth.
Born at Campi Salentina (Lecce) in 1937, he made his debut in ‘59 with Caligola by Camus, directed by Alberto Ruggiero; however, the following year he offered a work entirely in the first person with Spettacolo Majakovskij, and background music by Bussotti.
In the following decade, the great talent of the actor-director had the chance to fully unfold in legendary shows: his virulent, aggressive and disrespectful – to the point of outrage – rereadings of Pinocchio by Collodi (1961), Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1961), Edward II by Marlowe (1963), Salomè by Oscar Wilde (1964), Manon by Prévost (1964), read more