Dangerous Beauty (1998) - full transcript

In 16th century Venice, courtesans enjoy unique privileges: dressed richly in red, they read, compose poetry and music, and discuss affairs of state with the men who govern the Republic. When Veronica Franco comes of age, she cannot marry Marco Venier, whom she loves, because she is well born but penniless. Her choice: cloister or courtesan. She steels her heart, and with beauty and intelligence becomes the best. She's a heroine when she helps convince France to aid Venice in war with Turks, but when plague descends, the Church charges her with witchcraft. At her inquisition, she must match wits with an old rival, speak for all women, and call courage from Venier.

VERONICA: We danced our youth
In a dreamed-of city

Paradise, proud and pretty


We lived for love and lust and beauty
Pleasure then our only duty


Floating then 'twixt heaven and earth
And drunk on plenty's blessed mirth



We thought ourselves eternal then
Our glory sealed by God's own pen

But paradise, we found, is always frail

Against man's fear will always fail



Is there anything wrong, Mama?

Nothing at all.





Oh, I feel... I feel faint.

I feel faint.

- Come on.
- Oh, I feel faint.


- What are you doing?
- Come on, Beatrice.




Slow down.










- Look.
- Hello.

- Look, there's your brother.
- Hello, Venice.

- What if he sees us?
- He's not looking at us, Bea.

- He's looking at them.
- Hello, Venice.

Did you get my letters?
You didn't get them?

I'm not talking to you,
you broke my heart.

Come on.


- Bea, come on.
- No.



All this for me?


Oh, Livia.

O glorious maid of virtue spare
With bosoms like those, who could care?

- My rod, my lady. A hand.
- Oh.


- Come.
- Hardly. Aah!

- Ooh.
LIVIA: Ha-ha-ha.



It's Venus, come to bless the Venetians.


Aunt Luca, how are you?

- Beatrice.
- Hello.



You smell like a sewer.

Oh. Thank you.
That's a fine welcome, little sister.

Look at you.
You might make a wife after all.

- Did you see him?
- See who?

- You know who.
- No.

My husband-to-be. Is he handsome?

Oh, he's, um...

- He's powerful.
- He is.



Welcome home, Marco.

I think I've missed you.

With all the court ladies
to amuse you?

Oh, Roman women,
they can't hold a candle to the Venetian.

Nor can French, nor can Florentine,
nor any woman from Europe to the Levant.

No doubt you've sampled all.

All but idle amusement
until you blossomed.


What keeps a son
from greeting his parents?

- Beauty, I think.

- Oh, Marco. Welcome.
- Ha-ha-ha.

You're drenched.
Come on, you'll catch your death.

Oh, Veronica. I thought you were
gonna miss dinner again.

Ladies have better things to do
than poison their minds with books.

PAOLA: Such as?
- Such as minding their manners.

- The butcher said he must be paid.
- Have you got any postings, Sera?

- Do you know when you sail?
- Yes, next week.

Mm. I wish I could go with you,
sail the high seas.

Oh, Veronica, high seas, indeed.

She'll never find a husband
if she carries on like a child.

How do people marry, Mother?

They strike a bargain.

What's to bargain over if you're in love?

Marriage is a contract, Veronica,
not a perpetual tryst.

Have you got someone in particular in mind?


- Ooh. Love poetry, huh?
- Sera, give it back.

- Life's harshness all forgave
- No. Unh.

- Hearts yearning met
- Stop.

When God, your soul did...

Must be true love.

I'd have made a dashing courtier,
don't you think?


Or maybe a pirate. Ha!

- Ha!
- Ha! Ooh!

Disengage to the left. And again, back...
Back, extend and lunge.

Sweetest love I do know...

Back, extend and...

...of thee

Nor in hope the world can show
Of a little love for me

- But since that I must... MAFFIO:
I really love you, I really love you

- Please won't you love me
- But since that I must die at last

MAFFIO: You know I don't really love you
MARCO: 'Tis best to use myself in jest...

I just want to kiss you Don't tell
mama, she will want to castrate...

Shut up.

But since that I must die at last

'Tis best...

And where might you be going?


That nowhere has a nice tenor.

Veronica is on the canal
with Marco Venier, alone.

Mother Franco.

Oh, Elena, don't call me that.
Makes me feel ancient.

Young ladies of marriageable age
must be chaperoned.

A good marriage for Veronica
could win me a proper commission.

I always liked Marco Venier.

- He'll never marry her if he has her first.
- Marry her?

A bride of Marco's
will need a king's ransom.

I see my fated stars, your eyes

They melt me as the sun does snow

I bought this in Rome for you.

- You didn't buy it for me.
- Yes, I did. I just didn't know it.


Oh, such an easy gift
might easily be taken back again.

Then name me any other gift.

The book will do for now.

I think, perhaps, you're too young
to accept what I would truly give you.

Well, I am not so young as you are vain.

You haven't changed, have you?

How would you know?

I fear you mistake me
for one of your easy court companions.



I mistook the asking in your eyes.

Do you not like my kiss?

I wish it were not a
sin to have liked it so.

God made sin
that we might know his mercy.

I find myself within his eyes

And long for more of myself to know

He hears, it seems, my silent cries

And makes my heart my reason's foe

How can this be, to love so quickly?

"Love does not wait," is his reply

What magic weaves his touch
To trick me?

How can I now my love deny?


- For my bride, a little wedding trinket.
ALL: Oh!


Lorenzo Gritti and his fair bride

Your union gives us greatest pride

Good health, great wealth
And lasting line

On your union, God's glory shine



- How could they?
- How could who what?

Your parents, marry your sister off
to that piece of decaying flesh.

That piece of decaying flesh
is a cousin of the doge...

...confidant of the pope.
The Roman court adores him.

The Roman court
doesn't have to sleep with him.

- Oh, you'd be surprised. Save your blushes.
- Heh.

They don't sit well
with the bluntness of your tongue.

Surely, they could have traded down
a few ducats for an ounce of virility.

- Why?
- Well, for your sister's sake...

- My sister's a prude.
- She might have kept her own bed.

Would hardly be more cruel
marrying her to God.

- God isn't as rich as Lorenzo Gritti.
- Heh.


Do honor to the houses
of Gritti and Venier.

For Venice.



I've seen how you look at her,
how she looks at you. I know that look.

- Father.
- Do not underestimate love's allure.

Enjoy it. Huh?

But guard your head and your heart.

- You cannot marry her.
- I know.

Pietro, come.



I wish that were our bridal chamber.



- You think me wicked for saying that?
- No.


You know we can't marry.

I know only what you tell me.

I must marry...

...according to my station...

...and my family's wealth.

Well, then why are you here?

Because I could not stay away.

Well, then don't.

My marriage must be a marriage of state.

My people are true citizens 700 years back.

A coat of arms does not
an inheritance make.

- I speak of love and you talk of money.
- I speak of my duty.

- And what of your heart?
- This isn't about my heart.

This is about politics.


How romantic.

Marriage isn't romantic.
That's why God invented poetry.

To sweeten men's lying lips.

If I were a liar, would
I tell you this now?

If you cared for me,
you could not tell me this ever.

I want you.

Well, not enough.


Daughter, you have reached too high.

I told you marriage is a contract.

Two countries signing a treaty.

To a man of Marco's station,
it has nothing to do with love.

But you can still have Marco.

But not in wedlock.

There's an alternative to marriage.

You'll become a courtesan.

I've seen you watching them.
I've seen you mesmerized by them.

You'll become a courtesan.

Like your mother used to be.

You were a courtesan?

One of the best.


A long time ago.

Veronica, I had hoped
to buy you a good marriage.

But your father...

...drank away your dowry.

Your brother must buy his posting.

And I am too old.

It is you who must support us now.

Look at these hands. Soft.

Too soft for a scullery maid...

...or working the winery.

Perhaps a lady's maid.

Maybe Beatrice will hire you.
Wouldn't that be funny?

Just send me to the convent then.
To Santo Spirito.

- Veronica, you are not the type.
- How would you know?

What are you doing?

Whichever devil you choose,
you'll look him in the eye first.

Which is more
than my mother ever gave me.







First secret of all great courtesans:

You must know pleasure...

...to give pleasure.

Beauty is a manifestation of the divine.

That theory built the Sistine Chapel
and it'll do the same for you.


PAOLA: Height is an advantage to women,
as well as men.

Carriage creates the first impression.







Come with me, Veronica.

- Mother, we can't go in there.
- Ladies can't go in there.

Courtesans can.

The emperor Pericles relied more
for policy on his mistress...

...than he ever did on his lieutenants.

Courtesans, my dear, are the most
educated women in the world.

PAOLA: A courtesan is a force of nature
in a civilized cloak.

Any chambermaid can flop down,
take off her shirt, and men will come.

Your true power comes from something
much deeper than beauty.

Cleopatra knew that.

Theadosia. Aspasia.

She could seduce a man at 20 paces...

...without revealing an inch of flesh.

- How?
- With her mind.

Desire begins in the mind.

I don't understand.

No, you don't.

Think of Marco.

I know you know anger.

Try disdain.





...make him believe
that he is the only man in the universe.

- Who taught you?
- Your grandmother.

In order to choose your lovers wisely,
you need to understand men.


No matter their shape or size...

...position or wealth...

...they all dream of the temptress.


The irresistible, unapproachable Venus...

...who quickly turns pliable maiden
when they've had a hard day.



Come. You can't be squeamish.

If you don't enjoy it...

...they'll smell it,
like a dog smells fear.

And they'll hate you for it.

What's there to be squeamish about?

If you touch here.



Use your fingers lightly, like feathers.

Then harder.

Your tongue, like licking sweets.

Your teeth with restraint.

Just enough...

...to keep him wanting more.

It's wanting...

...that keeps us alive.





Your hand.




- Paola.
- Minister Ramberti.

I'd like to present you
to my daughter, Veronica.

It would bring me luck, lady,
if you would play a hand for me.

Remember, Veronica, love love.

But do not love the man,
or you'll be in his power.

Good luck.

May I call?

- May I call?
- Oh.




This is my first bet.

Your first?



I'm honored.

Repent your empty excesses.

There is no comfort here.



Repent, you sinners. Save yourselves.


Friends, may I ask you,
is this God's game?

- Why do you gamble with your souls?
- What is it you want, sir?

Your salvation.


This is no company for one so fair.


Venice may as well be deemed
one large, floating brothel.

What's biting your ass
this fair evening, cousin?

Um... Poverty.
Always puts me in a bad mood.

You'd begrudge the fairer sex
their little crumbs?

No. Though they do make more
in a night than I a month.

The lovely whores.

What are you doing?
Make yourself useful. Give us a rhyme.

I'm no performing monkey
for the masses.

Since when?

We're all of us
performing monkeys, nephew.

Paupers and poets alike.

I'm at your service, uncle.
If it's rhyme you wish...

...I shall gladly oblige.


- A subject?
- Doge?


Venice, to celebrate our plenty.


Born in glory

The virgin's exultation

Fair and mighty Venice

Queen of the sea
Unconquered maid

Sovereign isle is she


Chaste goddess

Rising from the foamy depths

Gateway 'twixt distant East

- Wine?
- And West


Mother of liberty

Child of honor


Veronica? Veronica.

Curb your surprise, Signor Venier.
It's vaguely insulting.

- Signor Venier? Don't be absurd.
- I'm not being absurd.

I'm just treating you with the same
indifference you afforded me.

- You confuse indifference with honesty.
- Ha, ha.

- You confuse honesty with venality.
- You think me venal?

You are a venal cur.

Hello, Marco. Something I can do for you?

MAFFIO: Here, beauty
Wit and wealth combined

Gateway 'twixt distant East and West

Mother of liberty Child of honor

Home and hearth and heart

To men of valor


Perhaps the fair maiden can do better.

A duel.





Virgin, queen and goddess

To be all five at once is no mean trick

If women's lust lost Eden
Our redress to be

Hearth, heart and home to every prick


Who is she? Who is this girl?


Sweet lagoon

That brings us lovely life


Rank with greed

And trade's devouring strife



Lady Venice
Her baubled self does show

Her raiment, as the moon, doth glow


Her wisdom...

Her wisdom shines bright
As envious day

Her wives, like booty

Are locked away

Bravo, bravo.

Brava. Brava.

Never, ever hide that face again.







Children, my dear, are a deficit.

It's not infallible.

- It's more comfortable than a turtle shell.
- Mm.





You didn't tell me everything.

How could I?

They won't all be Rambertis.

Who's next?


Honor us with a poem, Signora Veronica.

I would be too humbled
before so eloquent a gathering of minds.

Make us laugh as you did before. Heh.

Perhaps, if I am clever,
next time I shall make you weep.

You shall make me weep if you do not
give me leave to see you again.

- Thursday?
- Every Thursday?

I shall count the hours in between.

Scrape any lower,
you're gonna have shoes for earrings.


Why, Marco Venier,
I do believe you're jealous.

One can only be jealous
of what one cannot have.

And you cannot have me.

There's not a woman in Venice
I can't have.

And there's not a man in Venice
that I can't have.

We are so alike, you and me.

We both know that love is inconvenient,
if not impossible.

So why not enjoy
what little we're allowed together?

I'm all booked up.

MAN: Allow me.

- Well?
- Well, what?


- Well, I see you're enjoying yourself.
- Yes, thank you, Signor Venier.

Otherwise, you shall make me feel very old.

- Oh, let me help you.
- No, no, no, it's...

It's not a sight for such beautiful eyes.

I'm not afraid of flesh.

The man who bid you rhyme.

Francesco Martenengo, admiral of our fleet.

Andrea Tron.
Whatever you do, don't make him mad.

Bishop De La Torre.
It's said his collection of paintings...

...is surpassed only
by his collection of women.

- Heh. So many?
- Biblical.

Ramberti you know. Minister of Defense.

I tell you now, he's in love with you.

You say that as if you
thought it a disease.

You think, perhaps, I want you for myself?

- I would not presume.
- Pity.

I was flattered to think
you might harbor such suspicions...

...under the circumstances.

I would be happy to attend to you
under any circumstances.



"All the best courtesans have one."

Signora, Signor Marco Venier
wishes your audience.


A peacock does not an inheritance make.


Put the pig in the kitchen.
Those can go at the back somewhere.

The fish.

Look at these gowns.
Each is a unique work of art.

Every detail...





MAN: Wine, my dear?
WOMAN: Of course.

- Charming spectacle.
- Heh. I've seen better.

Must be interesting,
being in a room full of men...

...most you've seen with their pants down.

Puts it all in some kind of perspective.

I was wondering, um...

...I would enjoy it if perhaps
we might exchange verse again...

...some night...


We can't afford one another, Maffio.

We're both courtiers
singing for our supper.

Of course.

Have you tried it?

MAN 1: No.
WOMAN: Ha-ha-ha. You must.


What was cousin Maffio on about?

The pleasures of poetry.


Did you enjoy the hunt?

Well, the hunt possesses, doesn't it,
such a cruel beauty?

- Much like your own.
- Heh.

- Is my beauty cruel?
- Oh, I think so.

To those that you refuse, yes.

It is only my refusal
that arouses your longing.

- You underrate yourself.
- Flatterer.

Heh. Put it to the test. Say yes.

And then see if you're rid of me.

Oh, let's see.

If I'm right, you'll tire of me.
And if you're right, I'll tire of you.

Maybe we should just stay as we are.

You know, I do regret...

...the hurt that I caused you.

With all my heart.

The heart is higher up.

Her father owns half of Lombardy,
and her aunt is the pope's niece.

An alliance with this family
is a godsend, Marco.

Marco, you will marry Giulia De Lezze.

For Venice, if for no other reason.

If I didn't know you, I'd say you had
the feigned indifference of a man in love.

Go on, son.

Tell the truth and shame the devil.

So the Turks are on the move again?

The sultan wants the Mediterranean
for his bathing pool.

What is that heavenly thing?



- Mm.
- Veronica.

- I'm an ass.
- Ha-ha-ha.



My little poetess.

I'm an ass.

You are the brightest star
in the Venetian firmament.

MAFFIO: Aah! Ha-ha-ha.
- The co... Excuse me.

- The coldest...
- Oh.

- ...but also the brightest.
- Mm.


My uncle tells me...

...I have the feigned indifference
of a man...

Of a man about to be married.


I'm getting married, Veronica.
Congratulate me.

Felicitations on your grand match.

Well, generously put.

- Do you love her?
- Do I have to?

Well, I hope it's a profitable union.



Do you like poetry?

I know the Psalms.

Tell me a secret.

- I have no secrets.
- Everyone has secrets.

All right, tell me a desire.

A deep desire.

I hope to give you many strong sons.

Heh. No, I mean something...

...for you.

Something just for you.

To be a good wife to you is my only desire.

VERONICA: 'Tis not wanton flesh
But love that brings me shame

Mocked by fate
Imprisoned by my womb

By jealousy possessed
Which slow consumes

An ice-cold, gloomy, vicious flame

I love the very weapons
Which me wound

Lucky is the man
that can inspire your poet's heart.

- Ha-ha-ha.
- The only form she's mastered is a whore's.

Honestly, I didn't think Uncle
was still capable of getting it up.

What did you do to him...

...to get him to publish
this little pile of ditties?

Won't give the time of day
to his own flesh and blood.

- She worked for it.
- Ha!

I'll bet she worked for it.

What do you cost these days, Veronica?

If your prick is as limp as your verse...

...no price could possibly
purchase time enough.





Just making a point, coz.

Very brave. What point would that be?

I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

I apologize.


Have you the guts to try again?
Blade to blade and pen to pen?



Madonna Veronica.



Veritably unique whore

May sing and rhyme and more

Still is at best a slut
With every horny mutt


You pride yourself on arts and letters
And fucking best your manly betters

- Ha!
- Aah!


I save the goodly wives of Venice
From their husbands' lustful menace


Oh. Aah! Ha, ha.


Then you confess you love...

...to... to rut

And your beauty's gladly stuck


Now, now, now.

Little mistake.

MAN 1: Ooh.
MAN 2: Ha, ha.


I confess I fuck divinely
Those who love and well opine me

I confess I fuck divinely

Those who richly wine and dine me


On the page or on the sheet
You'll never find a tongue more sweet

On the page or on the sheet


On the page, on the sheet.
Greet, bleat.

On the page or on the sheet
A greater hack you'll never meet



- You fight like a sailor.
VERONICA: I learned from a sailor.

Now, stop stalling.

- Aah.


Recant the curse you give my kind

Admit I have, as you, a heart and mind

A greedy hand, an empty heart
Is all that wrests your legs apart










- Aah!


Give way.



How did you let this paragon of cities...

...turn into a cesspit
of vice and depravity?

For as the waters flow through Venice
every day...

...and wash away the filth...

...so the Lord will wash away this evil.

Do you not agree, my friend?

I think not.

A soul in torment is a soul without God.

All flesh is grass.

We must all meet our maker.
To this end, we must all come.

Even Venetians.

You can be saved, my brother.

It's your desire that makes you weak.

You can cure me of my desire,
young idealist?

No, I can't.


Tonight's too many hours away.

My affections
aren't mine to give you tonight.


I have mouths to feed, like you.

- Well, I'll support you.
- No.

No, there will be no money between us.

So you'd...? You'd continue with this life?

I have no choice. This
is the life I was given.


You do have a choice.

If I were yours alone, your property,
chaste and silent, you'd soon tire of me.

- You're wrong.
- Am I?

If you cared for me, you could not do this.

Do not ask of me
what you cannot give yourself.

Your wife is waiting.

What ails you, Marco?

What do you mean?

I want to be a good wife.

Impending deprivation
always makes me hungry.

My dear, you're not eating.

But you are though, darling.

There'll be no more of these little
delicacies if the sultan turns nasty.


Why are the bells ringing
at this time of night?

Marco, Marco.

The sultan has attacked.
He took eight ships near Malta.

If we don't sail for Cyprus by Easter,
we won't be sailing back.

Sooner, I think.

If we can't rally France,
we won't be sailing back.

Turks have three ships to our one.

- Will the king of France help us?
- If we amuse him.

- King Henry's a boy in man's breeches.
- A powerful boy.

A boy nonetheless.

DOMENICO: He commands a lot of ships
and has no love for the Turks.


Your wife believes she has bewitched you.

What harm is there
in bewitching a married man?

That man has to have heirs.
He's to be a senator soon.

So he shall.

What God and greed
have joined together...

...let no love put asunder.

The woman you love is not good.

Not pure, not meek.

I am a courtesan. It's the only thing
you let me do and I don't want...

I can't bear it, I can't bear it.

I know I have no right,
but I won't share you.

But I must share you.
I must bear that, I have no choice.

No, please don't envy Giulia.
She will never have what you have.

Please trust me.

- I don't know how.
- I'll earn your trust. Let me.

- You'll go off to war and die.
- No, not with you to come back to.

Stay with me for as long as we have.

- I'll be your private whore.
- No, don't ever say that.

You're Veronica Franco.

You're a poet.

And you're my lady.

Cancel my appointments, please.

It's a treacherous game you're playing,
my little idiot.

You outdid me long ago.

I know that.

And the irony is, it's not because
you're prettier than I was.

Because you're not.

Nor that you're a better lay than I was,
because you aren't.

It's because you are smarter than I am.

You have a gift. Don't throw it away.

For God's sake, Mother,
haven't I done enough?

He's a client like all the others.
Love him and you lose.




I must go, King Henry's coming.

I'll get my things.


Aah. It's been selfish of you,
keeping her hidden away.

- We could use her counsel.
- You came back in time...

...to seduce the French king.

- He's arriving tomorrow.
- He'd let Paris burn for a good lay.

- He'll hardly fight for Venice.
- Depends on how well Venice lays him.

I don't mind fighting,
but I prefer a war that I can win.

Without France's ships,
it's a suicide mission.

- Simple as that. MAN 1: So, all
right, the navy is how strong?

MAN 2:
Pretty strong, but we need more ships.

Glorious architecture.



Good Henry, good Henry, we must fight.

We must fight infidels here,
before we can beat them abroad.

Or we can find them at home.

Take this paper to the king.

No, I'm a man of God. Give him this paper.

France has some too. We prefer a heretic
to a zealot, they're not so serious.

Zealots are creating difficulties


Our captains tell us the Muslim Turks
have been spotted near Cyprus.

- Mm.
DOGE: Rather presumptuous, don't you think?

Rather presumptuous, don't you agree?

To think the Christian Church
wouldn't come to its defense?

What about these courtesans
Venice is so famous for?

I'm sure the sultan is far too
experienced to gamble...

I want to meet them.

You got them nearby?




Who's that? She's not with the others.

Veronica Franco, Your Excellency.
The poetess.

Is she a courtesan?

She is, Your Highness.

Tell her to come forward.

I want her.

Most exquisite.

- You do me great honor, Majesty.
- I take you from the one you love.

I come willingly.

You have to say that because I'm a king.

I have to say that
because Venice needs you.


What do you yearn for, King Henry?


- You've heard the rumors, Veronica?
- Yes, sire.

The king is a pervert.

What do you really yearn for, King Henry?


- Tears for whom?
- Your tears.

You yearn for my tears?

I don't think so.

And what do I yearn for?

Why don't we find out?



Arms, hup.



You'll get your ships.



- Poet to kings.
- A national asset.

More than a hundred French ships.

Perhaps we should make you ambassador
to the emperor.

Ha, ha. He doesn't deserve her.

Would he sooner we didn't get the ships?

He would rather he had the right
to refuse even a king your hand.

- I could not refuse.
- Couldn't you?

I think you like it.

And you like what it has made me.

- I don't like what it makes me.
- Well, then, why did you not stop me?

You're not mine to stop!

And whose fault is that?

You sleep with Giulia every night
for duty's sake.

I slept with the king of France once
for duty's sake. Who does not forgive?

Perhaps I just can't live with it.

But I love you.



I pray God to watch over you.

Save your prayers, Veronica.

The devil's got my heart now.
God hasn't a chance.





We were hoping you could tell us
what was happening with the war.

What do you know?

Just that we're fighting the Turks again.

And that's all?

Their sultan sent us an ultimatum.

Either we surrender Cyprus
or he takes it by force.

Our fleets have headed east to defend it.

Is Cyprus so important that we must
send our husbands away to battle?

Without Cyprus, we lose control
over the eastern Mediterranean.

If they cannot be contained, the Turks
will find their way to Christian shores.

I know we own it,
but where exactly is Cyprus?

My husband, do you know
if he is alive or dead?

Alive and well, Signora Bragadin.

And mine?

The admiral is alive. And a hero.

- And my husband?
- Who is your husband?

Vicco. My husband is Pietro Vicco.

Well, he's young and strong.
I'm sure he'll come home safely.

You know her husband well.

Not at all well,
but his reputation precedes him.

Go on, ask her.

Ask her what you're longing to.

Ask her what draws our husbands
back to her again and again...

...like pigs to a trough.

The Latin for banana is ariena.

Banana tree is pala.




A woman's greatest
and most hard-won asset...

...is an education.

Just because you can say it in Latin,
doesn't make it any less obscene.

Just because you took a vow,
doesn't mean you know how to love.

Either that whore leaves or I leave.

No Christian woman could tolerate
such behavior under her roof.

You're unfit to be a mother.

At least I am a mother.

You won't be once Lorenzo hears of this.

Thank you for your assistance,
Signora Franco.

He's alive.


You made many enemies today.

They were already enemies.

Now they will become more so.

Is that why you came? To warn me?

When my daughter is old enough,
I want you to make her a courtesan.


I will not pimp your daughter.

Look at the life you live,
the freedom that you have.

Will you deny my daughter
the same chance?


Turn right up ahead.



Look outside.

Get away.


This is where we go to die.

You will not end here.

Livia. Venice's reigning Venus.

Get away.

A jealous lover did that.

Get away.

Who wants her now?

My cage seems bigger than yours,
but it's still a cage.

- If you want sympathy, you won't get it.
- I don't want your sympathy.

Do you know what my daughter's nurse
told her this morning?

That in a girl's voice lies temptation.

A known fact.

Eloquence in a woman means promiscuity.

Promiscuity of the mind
leads to promiscuity of the body.

She doesn't believe her yet, but she will.

She'll grow up just like her mother.

She'll marry, bear children
and honor her family...

...spend her youth in needlepoint
and rue the day she was born a girl.

And when she dies...

...she'll wonder why she obeyed
all the rules of God and country...

...because no biblical hell
could ever be worse...

...than this state
of perpetual inconsequence.


Silent God ignores my prayer

And renders lost what once was fair

Once blissful, fortune's favorite city

Now wheeled fate turns

No trace of pity


Citizens of Venice!

Look around you now
at the disease and deaths...

...that have taken over
our once-beautiful city, and tell me...

...this plague is not a punishment
from God!

We are surrounded by harlots
and courtesans!

We must cast out those who tempt us...

...for we are a city of
shame, of fornication...

...and carnal practices
that defy description.

We will go the way of Sodom
and Gomorrah...

...and become dust in the sands of time.


There is news from Venice.



MAN: The corruption of their flesh,
the paint on their faces...

...the vile coloring of their hair,
their wanton dress.

Look on them and look
within yourselves at the last...


You're alive.

You're alive.


Forgive me. Forgive me.



Please forgive me.

I'm sorry.


God's vengeance on you, whore.

You filthy harlot!


Let go of her!

You die!

Signora Veronica Franco...

...I hereby summon you to appear before
the tribunal of the Holy Inquisition.

You have no jurisdiction here, senator.
I speak for the Church.

The Inquisition?

- In Venice?
- We have 56,000 dead.

Living want answers.

They may be wrong,
but they want them the same.

Be glad those bastards
aren't burning us out.

You can stop it.

If the doge of Venice were to come out
in defense of a notorious courtesan...

Oh, now she's notorious?

Before she was a national asset.

It would topple the government.
These are grim times, senator.

I can no longer be a
party to this travesty.

You're an elected official.
You cannot refuse your office.

If you compel me to continue, then you
compel me to condone the proceedings.

Am I mistaken,
or is Venice still a free republic?

Do you think ruining
yourself will help her?





By order of the pope,
the Holy Inquisition has come to Venice...

...to seek out heresy
and beliefs anathema to the Church.

Veronica Franco...

...you have been denounced
on the charge of witchcraft...

...a mortal sin punishable by death.

Should you confess and repent
at any time during these proceedings...

...you will be mercifully welcomed back...

...into the bosom
of the Holy Mother Church.

- Your Holiness, I may only repent...
- Silence!

The accused shall make no utterance...

...except to answer our questions
or to confess.

Proceed, monsignor.


...ever a noble republic,
home of learning...

...art, commerce, has been brought low
by war and plague.

Do you know why, Signora Franco?

I am not that wise, Your Grace.

Tell us, how many
of the worthy men of this city...

...have you taken into your chamber?

I have not counted my lovers.

More than 20?


You will answer the question.

- Yes.
- More than 100?

- I don't know.
- You cannot remember them.

Yet for each, you paraded your milky breast
and hair of spun copper.

For each, you learned
his unique favored touch...

...and enchanted him to believe
he was the only man in the universe.

What was the average number
in a single week?

I told you, I enchanted no one.

Did you feign love
with more than 10 weekly?

Or would perhaps five or six sate you?

- I never feigned love.
- Then for what did they pay you?

For the dream of love...

...as it cannot exist in this world
that you've created.

For the hope there might exist on earth,
some corner of this paradise that...


When 56,000 have fallen?

You say this. You...

...who fill your home with feasting
and dancing while Venice suffers?

Who creates a sumptuous world
of flesh and depravity...

...of orgiastic rites invoking the devil?

- This is paradise?
- The only devilry is your spite!

- Silence!
- He's jealous of what he cannot have.

You will not intrude into the proceedings.

I'm a senator of Venice.
The Inquisition is here by our consent.

And this is an ecclesiastical court.
You are here by my consent.

This is a personal vendetta.

You will abide by our rules or be removed.

Is that understood?

Is that understood?

The senator speaks the truth.

I was bewitched by this woman.


In my weakness...

...I fell under her spell to pathetic ruin.

It is only by the grace of God
that I stand here today.

I did not seek your love.

- Because I could not pay your fee.
- No.

- No?
- No, I loved another.

In other words, you cast your spell...

...over all who cross your path
whether you want them or not.

You compel sacred love to garner riches.
What is this if not witchcraft?

- No.
- No?

Ever give yourself to a man
who couldn't pay?

I gave my heart where riches were...

- Answer!
- I did what was necessary to live.

Did you ever give yourself to a man
who could not pay?

What other profession will you allow me?

- How shall I survive if I cannot marry?
- You will answer the question!

Why, when you're determined
to damn me whatever I say?

Look at her.

Feel her wrath, her power.

She, who lures the noble fathers of Venice
from their wives...

...their children,
their very ability to lead the republic!

It is she and her kind who have turned
God's hands against us, Your Grace.

Your Grace, we must do our duty.

Veronica Franco, you hover at the brink
of extermination and hell.

You will return to this room tomorrow...

...to hear God's merciful judgment,
and, I hope...

...to repent before that judgment
takes its course.

Remove the prisoner.


You must save yourself.


Confess whatever foolishness
they put before you...

- What, that I am a witch?
- What does it matter what you say?

I would be saying it.

There is no honor with fools like these.

God will forgive you.

Marco, if I give them the lie,
I give them my soul.

Renounce everything I ever was.

- My love, my words, my heart.
- Yes, but you would live.

As someone else.

I've let you go too many times.

I can't do it again.

There is no choice.

I will never see you again.




Veronica Franco,
you have been denounced a sorceress.

Either confess and plead mercy
or stand to receive my judgment.

I will confess, Your Grace.


That will please God. Proceed.

I confess that as a young girl,
I loved a man...

...who would not marry me
for want of a dowry.

I confess I had a mother
who taught me a different way of life...

...one I resisted at first
but learned to embrace.

I confess I became a courtesan...

...traded yearning for power,
welcomed many...

...rather than be owned by one.

She does not speak to the charge.

I confess I embraced a whore's freedom
over a wife's obedience.

This is not repentance.

What am I to do? I must confess my evil
as the Church instructs.

- These are my sins.
- Her mortal sins are not at issue.

She must repent witchcraft
or be condemned.

Perhaps she heads in that direction.

You have been warned.

The Church cannot deny her right
to seek God's mercy.

That's the law. Confession is sacrosanct.

Do not instruct me
on the laws of the Church.

Then I call upon the doge to demand
that the Inquisition abide by them.


If Christian mercy is gone, then at
least Venetian justice still exists.

I pray Your Grace has heard enough of this.

Does seem odd, Your Holiness...

...that the Holy Mother Church
would deny a sinner confession.

I see no harm in hearing her.

She will save or damn herself.

The prisoner has already damned herself.

But if it pleases the esteemed doge
of Venice...

...she may continue her heresy.

I confess I find more ecstasy
in passion than in prayer.


Such passion is prayer.

I confess...

I confess I pray still...

...to feel the touch of my lover's lips...

...his hands upon me...

...his arms enfolding me.

Veronica, stop!

Save yourself, please.

Such surrender has been mine.

I confess I hunger still to be filled
and inflamed.

To melt into the dream of us
beyond this troubled place...

...to where we are not even ourselves.

To know that always... Always this is mine.

Your Grace, is this necessary?

She hopes to bewitch us all.

If this had not been mine,
if I had lived another way...

...a child to a husband's whim...

...my soul hardened from lack of touch
and lack of love...

...I confess such endless
days and nights...

...would be punishment far greater
than any you could mete out.

- Are you finished?
- No, Your Grace.

You, all of you...

You, who hunger so for what I give...

...but cannot bear to see
such power in a woman...

...you call God's greatest gift...

...ourselves, our yearning,
our need to love...

...you call it filth and sin and heresy.

Enough. One last time before
you are condemned, do you repent or not?

I repent there was no other way open to me.

I do not repent my life.

Veronica Franco, the Holy Inquisition...

...has heard the evidence
against you and is satisfied.

- In the name of the pope...
- No!

More confession to be heard!

- In the name of...
- I demand rights of confession!

- You are not on trial!
- You're still on consecrated ground.

I confess I am her accomplice.

If she is a witch, then I am damned with
her. Damn me because I do not repent.

I will not live without her.

Your Grace, this is a cynical trick.
He does this to save her.

She's a witch, proven and convicted.
The devil in our midst!

And I am her accomplice!

Condemn her if you will, but arrest me too.

Arrest a senator of Venice for witchcraft.

You think I shrink from judging the rich?

No, I welcome it. I wait for the shackles.

He speaks with his heart
and not his head, Your Grace.

He is blinded by his own lust.

If she is a witch,
then so is every woman in Venice.



We are a strange city, Your Holiness.

Perhaps accursed.

And perhaps we live
in a peculiar state of grace.

I am not alone in loving this woman...

...though I love her far,
far more than they.

We accomplices were many...

...and proud.

If we do not speak now...

...if Venice does not stand up now...

...and acknowledge who she is,
then we are all damned.

Not before this court, before eternity.

If what he says is true...

...then you must speak the names
of your accomplices.

Your Grace...

...the men who loved her
were under her spell.

They had no volition.

Shall we punish even the victims
of her evil?

If the soul of the city is corrupt...

...and you help me root it out,
I will spare your life.

I had no accomplices, Your Grace.




All you who defiled
your sacred marriage beds...

...and declare your
sin, stand up with me...

...as we stood against our enemies at sea!


You see, Your Grace...

...there are no accomplices.

He does this to rescue
her from your justice.

Then I stand alone for Venice
and for this woman.

Arrest the senator.

His trial will commence tomorrow.

Minister, do you wish to speak?

I repeat, do you have something to say
to this court?

I am standing.

Your Grace.

Perhaps there is another
who would like to stand.

- Perhaps we've been hasty, Your Grace.
- What are you doing?

Witchcraft may be too harsh a charge.

Is everything I heard about this city true?

Surely the Holy Inquisition need not
sully its hands with a common whore.

This is a matter for the state,
don't you think?

I leave this woman to Venice...

...which richly deserves her.