Walerian Borowczyk

Having subscribed to Amazon Prime and its BFI Player I was most pleased to find movies by Walerian Borowczyk.

Polish-born, France-based Borowczyk (1923-2006) was lauded by some as a genius, by others as merely a pornographer. I can claim familiarity with only two of his movies – Story of a Sin (Dzieje grzechu – 1975) and The Beast (La Bête – 1975).

The former tells of a young woman who will go to any lengths to be reunited with her lover, including murder, arson, prostitution and throwing her newborn down the toilet – all accompanied by an intrusive soundtrack of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.

By Source, <a href=”//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Story_of_Sin.jpg” title=”Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of The Story of Sin”>Fair use</a>, <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34239786“>Link</a>

Full-frontal nudity (male and female), violence, sex. It’s all there. IMDb throws up love, prostitution, teenage girl, sex and surrealism among its plot keywords. And Mendelssohn too – oh joy!

The Beast, however, is of a completely different order. Here, the sex is pretty much (ahem) in your face. A baroque soundtrack accompanies scenes of horses mating, female masturbation and, to cap it all, sex between a woman and a beast. Hence IMDb plot keywords like interspecies sex, surrealism, human arouses animal and phallus.

Some who condemn this movie, in my opinion, miss a simple point, and that is humour. Scenes of Romilda pursued by the beast through the woods could rest easily in a Mack Sennett silent or a Monty Python sketch. What starts as a rape, ends with her shagging the beast to death.

I first saw both of these films in the late 1970s, a time when challenging cultural borders and exploring ideas were not considered things to be despised, hated and banned.