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After her recent release from a deep psychiatric care, a Libertine-styled countess goes back to very evil ways, trainer her sights on a pretty girl with the intention to destroy her after fully corrupting her body and soul.
Women's prison tale, with Lina Romay as Maria who is jailed after killing her father, played by director Jess Franco, who tries to rape her. Lesbian wardens, torture, nudity, sex, insanity and conspiracy round out the formula.
Here is another of those elusive Franco films that in its proper context is neither horror, nor porn or sexploitation, in spite of the hardcore inserts, but wandering around urges.
Now I appreciate Franco in the way you do with a friend or co-worker you have known forever. I appreciate him, in part, because of how familiar his flaws and habits. So I won't mollycoddle him or pretend in his face: he was often sloppy, charmless as a thinker and embarrassing in a number of ways. Whereas some fans read profundity in this film, for me all the stuff about mirrors, madness and theater as staged inner life are as sophomoric as it gets, for instance that whispers of a damaged mind will issue from a mirror.
Let me say here that it's not the elements themselves, which others like Rivette, Resnais and Ruiz have used to similar effect, but the narrative distance they are placed away from the viewer, distance that leads up to them and away from.
But I accept it as part of the experience of shared intuition that is possible with a good friend; Franco is worth knowing because, going past conscious narrative impositions, I can relax in a fluid fabric of images which he seems to spontaneously stir up from life as he walks through it. The more of his films I watch, the more I relax because I have shared in previous travels.
It's all in the last scene here.
Leading up to it we have obviously layered madness about a woman reliving guilt from her past, inserts of incestual cunnilingus and hardcore sex (in the Italian version I saw), and relaxed wandering around bars and later exotic Madeira. As a whole the film evokes Franco's films with Soledad, She Killed in Ecstasy and Eugenie. It is not as 'pure' as Female Vampire, nor on the other hand as testing.
The idea, tremendously simple, is that a woman wanted to get married, but her beloved sister killed herself out of desperation and perhaps spurned love, and she carries this burden in unfulfilled affairs with men.
The Spanish version without the inserts may flesh out the story a bit more, but story is not the main point, it's swimming across to where images acquire life of their own.
In the last scene we have all this, the wandering, madness, and repressed emotion, coalesce together in a beautiful way as a bridal veil fluttering in the wind.
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