Sigismond (Joe Dallesandro) is a man lost in an erotic haze which clouds his judgment. Early in the film, it is evident that the man has a physically passionate relationship with his wife, ...
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The teenage girl is first seen confessing and warned about having any impure thoughts or feelings. Her family has boarders and one day a young man moves in and they fall in love. He is ... See full summary »
The story of a sexually enticing young dancer who rises up in society through her relationships with wealthy men, but later falls into poverty and prostitution, culminating in an encounter with Jack 'the Ripper'.
Four erotic tales from in various historical eras. The first, 'The Tide', is set in the present day, and concerns a student and his young female cousin stranded on the beach by the tide, ... See full summary »
The film takes place before, during and immediately after the engagement party of Dr.Henry Jekyll and Miss Fanny Osborne, attended by numerous highly respectable guests (a general, a doctor... See full summary »
The head of a failing French family thinks that fate has smiled down on him when the daughter of a wealthy man agrees to be married to his son. The daughter and her aunt then travel out to ... See full summary »
A zealous, handsome priest, who is the confessor for a convent full of women, encourages the equally zealous abbess of one such institution to enforce the same strict rules on these ... See full summary »
Young student Claudine has a dream in which the Roman student Cornelius, fascinated by the beautiful wife of the commander, attends lectures on the art of love of great Ovid. Ancient tragedy happens again in a few centuries
Three erotic tales: The first film features Marina Pierro as a woman who inspires more than just creativity in the minds and loins of the men of ancient Rome. In the second offering, a ... See full summary »
Sigismond (Joe Dallesandro) is a man lost in an erotic haze which clouds his judgment. Early in the film, it is evident that the man has a physically passionate relationship with his wife, with whom he has a son. While on a business trip to Paris, he comes under the spell of a famous, beautiful prostitute (Sylvia Kristel) who resembles his wife. However, his efforts to monopolize her attention are not appreciated by her pimp, and he is severely beaten. When he gets a letter informing him of the death of his wife and son, he is totally devastated. Written by
Borowczyk remains one of the least appreciated filmmakers of his era, inarguably an auteur, but one so erratic and unusual that he remains cherished only by a handful of critics for his early surrealist work and by cult movie devotees for his later, sexually-explicit films. While from the mid-seventies onward his films would range from the good (Behind Convent Walls, The Story of Sin) to the not-so-good (The Art of Love, Immoral Tales, etc), his film-making legacy rests with the bizarre La Bete, which unfortunately belongs to the latter category. However it is his early films (both animated and live action) that are undoubtedly Borowczyk's key works Blanche, for instance, is one of the finest films ever made, while Goto the Island of Love is almost as good and in many ways these films set up the themes that would be prevalent throughout much of his subsequent work, most importantly that sex is constantly linked with guilt, persecution and death.
This is perhaps why La Marge is so unjustly obscure. The casting of Kristel (not to mention the film's alternate title Emmanuelle '77) suggests the film was tailored to appeal to the softcore market, yet the emphatically gloomy atmosphere and subject matter, which includes death, adultery and suicide, is significantly at odds with this. Compared to the other Borowczyk films of this period, with perhaps the exception of The Story of Sin, La Marge is surprisingly restrained. The film works because of its minimalism and ambiguity the dialogue is sparse, presumably because of the actors' inability to speak French, and their character motivation is vague to say the least. It is never made clear why Sigimond is driven to cheat on his seemingly perfect wife, though it is perhaps no coincidence that Diana more than slightly resembles her. Borowczyk as usual fills the movie with visual motifs, using reflective surfaces to signify the duality of Sigimond's life, and lingering, unerotic shots of female genitalia to convey what is at the core of his actions and desires, and what is, in essence, being a Borowczyk film, Sigimond's prison.
The film is beautifully photographed, full of the director's obtuse trademark framing, and, something rather unusual for Borowczyk, features a remarkable period soundtrack, from the first Kristel/Dallesandro sex scene played out to 10CC's I'm Not in Love to the stunning blowjob sequence set to Pink Floyd, and an incredible climax that employs Elton John's Funeral For a Friend. While La Marge is distinctively a Borowczyk film in many respects, it also possesses a sombreness and maturity that was rare for the director, for despite the occasional surreal moment (a dwarf watching television, a hotel maid examining her breasts in the mirror, a deranged old woman watching sex through a keyhole), it is primarily a straightforward examination of two doomed characters unable to escape the prisons of their existence. Fans of the director's early work may find the film overly conventional, while devotees of his later period may be disappointed by how restrained it is, yet La Marge is an unfairly neglected film, one of the director's most enduring and haunting works.
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