Paul Verhoeven did not expect dildo fuss for new film

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Paul Verhoeven did not expect dildo fuss for new film

Director Paul Verhoeven (83) had not expected at all that the sex scene with the Mary statue would cause such a stir. In his new film ‘Benedetta’, which will be shown in cinemas from Thursday, the object is used as a dildo. “We as makers mainly thought it was a very comical scene,” the director tells the ‘ANP’.

“Sometimes I see that happen and then I think: what the hell are they all doing there?”

Benedetta is about two nuns in the seventeenth century, Benedetta and Bartolomea, who have a sexual relationship. In one scene, Bartolomea presents a dildo to Benedetta, which she carved herself from a wooden statue of Mary. “We had huge fits of laughter about that scene during the making,” said Paul. “Benedetta first thinks that she is being handed her own statue of Mary, but later sees that the bottom is suddenly a dildo. It is very comical.”

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Partly because of that scene, but also because of the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality, the film was banned in Russia. Something Paul doesn’t understand. “Sometimes I see that happen and then I think: what the hell are they all doing there?”. The scene also caused tumult in America. A number of Christians took to the streets around the premiere to demonstrate. “That was, however unfortunate, a nice bonus, because the distributor filmed it all and used it as a promotion,” says the director. “None of us ever imagined that the fuss around this movie would get this big.”

Paul also had that idea, because he says he has tackled the subject “not at all sensational or blasphemous”. “I was even quite surprised that the editor used the piece with the statue of Mary”, he reflects on the editing process. “We even had a discussion about something completely different in that scene: ‘Do you see the vagina in the picture or a part of the thigh?’ We took the microscope and finally saw that there is indeed a part of the vagina in the picture. There really wasn’t a dog in the production who thought the discussion wasn’t going to be about that, but about that image.”

Paul Verhoeven did not expect dildo fuss for new film

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In the end, despite the fuss, the reactions to Benedetta mainly positive, says Paul. “I really liked how the audience reacted during the film festival in Cannes. A bit cautious at first, everyone looked around and wondered: ‘Can we laugh about this, is it comic or tragic?’ That people are thinking I like being put. In the end the whole room was laughing.”

ANP/RTL Boulevard

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