"You cannot change history — you cannot change things that happened," said the Benedetta filmmaker at a press conference at Cannes.

By Andrea Towers
July 13, 2021 at 01:20 PM EDT
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Director Paul Verhoeven has hit back at reporters who referred to the racier scenes in his latest film Benedetta, about two nuns engaged in a secret lesbian affair in their convent in 17th-century Italy, as "blasphemy."

"You cannot change history — you cannot change things that happened — even if it's in 1625," Verhoeven said during a recent Cannes press conference that appeared in a video posted by AP's Twitter account. "You cannot change history — you cannot change things that happened — and I based it on the things that happened. So I think the word blasphemy in this case is stupid."

Verhoeven further defended his film when Variety asked whether he would ever consider using an intimacy director for his sex scenes.

"[The actors] themselves were the intimacy co-ordinators," he told the outlet. "I felt it. Sometimes it might be necessary, but for the time being I believe not in France."

In the Basic Instinct director's new film, his first in five years, Academy Award nominee Charlotte Rampling takes on a case involving a newcomer nun named Benedetta Carlini (Virginie Efira), who from an early age developed the ability to perform miracles that eventually lead to a romantic entanglement with a fellow nun (Daphné Patakia).

"Don't forget, in general, people, when they have sex, they take their clothes off," Verhoeven said when pressed about the film's more controversial moments . "So I'm stunned basically by the fact that we don't want to look at the reality of life. Why this puritanism has been introduced — it is in my opinion wrong."

Verhoeven recently again denied Sharon Stone's accusation that he tricked her into doing the infamous Basic Instinct leg-crossing scene without underwear, saying his memory of the incident "is radically different from Sharon's memory."

"She knew exactly what we were doing," the filmmaker said. "I told her it was based on a story of a woman that I knew when I was a student who did the crossing of her legs without panties regularly at parties. When my friend told her we could see her vagina, she said, 'Of course, that's why I do it.' Then Sharon and I decided to do a similar sequence." Verhoeven added that he and Stone "still have a pleasant relationship and exchange text messages."

Bendetta premiered Friday at the Cannes Film Festival.

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