• Publication date: August 25, 2009

Dangerous Beauty Dangerous Beauty

Dangerous Beauty is a 1998 movie about a sixteenth century poet and courtesan ...

Dangerous Beauty is a 1998 movie about a sixteenth century poet and courtesan Veronica Franco (Catherine McCormack) produced by Marshall Herskovitz, famed producer of films such as “Traffic” and “The Last Samurai”. Deemed as ‘high-class’ woman of the night, Europe’s beautiful courtesans are a much sought after commodity by Europe’s elite men but politicians and royalty would certainly not visit brothels, much less suffer the indignity of mingling with women from an inadequate lineage and class. Furthermore to become a courtesan was no easy feat and if a lady desired to join she must undergo the proper study, and unlike the majority of her female comrades, be literate and well versed in the arts. The relationship between a man and his courtesan was not merely sexual, but one of genuine companionship, where a long discussion regarding history may in fact out last and outweigh mere intercourse. Because of that a courtesan could not simply don sultry clothing and hit the street, but prepare herself literally for conversations with kings. For women like Veronica this trade was not necessarily their first choice, but ultimately more attractive than other options such as joining a monastery. After all, mingling with Venice’s most powerful men and lounging in its most beautiful places initially appears more appealing than living as an impoverished housewife. More importantly, perhaps, these women – like any other, were able to utilize their beauty and charm to indirectly influence both local and national politics, depending who their nightly business partner may be. Courtesans were in many cases the wives many prominent men wished they could have, but could not due to class hierarchy. In Dangerous Beauty Veronica tastes both the sweetness and the bitterness of such a life. As a young lady she became infatuated and romantically entangled with Marco Venier (Rufus Sewell), a nobleman’s son who was ultimately destined to a prearranged marriage with a noblewoman. As the final hours of their relationship approach Marco inevitably marries a woman of his parents’ choosing, and unwillingly ceased relations with Veronica. Veronica quickly encounters a crossroads in her life, where the idea of a traditional relationship seems impossible without lowering her standards. By her mother’s suggestion, who was once a courtesan herself, she joins the world’s oldest profession in search of some kind of happiness. Indeed, she will receive more than she expected, as her encounters amongst Venice’s elite inescapably reunite her with Marco Venier. In parallel, her unorthodox political influence earns her both acclaim and jealously, particularly from the men’s less engaging wives who attempt to invoke Veronica’s execution.