Flavia – The Heretic (1974)
Flavia, la monaca musulmana
Bruno Di Geronimo screenplay
Raniero di Giovanbattista story
Gianfranco Mingozzi screenplay
Fabrizio Onofri screenplay
Sergio Tau story
Sergio Tau screenplay
Francesco Vietri story
Gianfranco Mingozzi producer
Raniero di Giovanbattista executive producer
Florinda Bolkan – Flavia Gaetani
María Casares – Sister Agatha
Claudio Cassinelli – Abraham
Anthony Higgins – Ahmed (as Anthony Corlan)
Raika Juri – Sister Livia
Laura De Marchi – Tarantula Cult Woman
Luigi Antonio Guerra
Maria Teresa Piaggio
Agnès Nobecourt (as Marie Agnès Nobecourt)
Review by Sven Soetemans
If you’re into kinky exploitation, go on a date with Flavia!,
Flavia the Heretic is an undeniable work of art and probably my number one recommendation to state that the euro-exploitation cinema is severely underrated and not to be ignored. This is an intelligent and complex film, beautifully realized and – surprise – pretty damn accurate! This is more than just meaningless sleaze or gratuitous violence and it’s about time those prudish film committees who categorize Flavia as forbidden trash reckon this as well. Flavia is a beautiful 14th century adolescent, forced to live the life of an obedient nun in a strict convent. She refuses to accept her being inferior just because she’s female and she curses her fellow sister for being so tolerant about this. After a fruitless attempt to escape, she befriends another rebellious nun and she even guides a troop of bloodthirsty Muslims into the walls of the convent.
Flavia is a downright mesmerizing film! Almost impossible to believe that director Gianfranco Mingozzi managed to make it appear so realistic and so disturbing. I challenge you to come up with a title that centers on the topic of pioneer-feminism more intensely than Flavia does. Several sequences are quite shocking (on the verge of nightmarish, actually) as the camera zooms in on brutal rapes, torture and mutilation.
Yet all this raw footage isn’t just used to satisfy perverted gorehounds, mind you. I’m strongly convinced that they’re part of the statement ‘Flavia’ is trying to communicate: Humanity (the Catholic Church in particular) historically proved itself to be a hypocrite and discriminating race and there’s no use in denying it any further. Films like “Flavia, the Heretic” have the courage to question and openly condemn our precious ancestors and I truly admire them for it.
Flavia is an outstanding and fundamental exploitation film because of its substance, but it’s even brought to an higher level by the wondrous cinematography, the glorious costumes & scenery and a breathtaking musical score by Nicola Piovani. Florinda Bolkin is very convincing as the ambitious and headstrong nun but it’s Mara Casares who steals the show as Sister Agatha. She’s a man-hating and loud-mouthed nun who likes to urinate in the open field!