Capricci is a very loose adaptation of the Elizabethan play Arden of Faversham, about a woman who plots with her lover to kill her husband. Bene’s version overflows with allusions—to the paintings of de Chirico and Morandi, and the classics of Italian opera (La traviata, I Pagliacci and La boheme), and a lengthy citation from Roland Barthes’ Mythologies. What emerges is something like a Beckettian commedia dell’arte: a series of sketches with a large cast of broadly characterized artists, prostitutes, cuckolds and hit men engaged in ceaseless, frantic and fruitless plots and counterplots, always at cross purposes. Ultimately, the caprices of the title turn out to be the glorious uselessness of art and the pleasures and discontents of sins of the flesh.
HermitageDirected by Carmelo Bene.
With Carmelo Bene, Lydia Mancinelli.
Italy, 1968, 35mm, color, 24 min.
Italian with English subtitles.
Bene’s first film is this short, which features Bene himself feverishly pacing in a suite at Rome’s Hotel Hermitage, until the arrival of an unknown woman disrupts his private rituals.