Arriving on Blu-Ray/DVD on Sept 15th from Arrow Video is Walerian Borowczyk’s first explicitly erotic feature, ‘Immoral Tales.’
‘Immoral Tales’ presents a veritable cavalcade of depravity: cosmic fellatio, transcendental masturbation, blood-drenched lesbianism and papal incest. It tells four stories, each delving back further in time, as if to suggest that the same issues recur constantly throughout human civilization, whether involving notorious historical figures like Lucrezia Borgia and Erzsébet Báthory, or present-day teenagers. Capitalizing on the relaxation of censorship laws, Immoral Tales would transform Borowczyk’s image from brilliant but obscure avant-garde artist to one of Europe’s most confrontational filmmakers when it came to trampling on sexual taboos.
2 versions of the film are included in this set: The theatrical cut, featuring 4 segments, and the Lage d’or Cut, featuring 5 segments, and it is this version that won the prestigious Lage d’or Prize for films that “willingly step aside from cinematic conformism,” and ‘Immoral Tales’ certainly does that in spades.
The film is broken up into 5 short films chronicling less than normal sexual activity throughout the ages:
The first segment, “The Tide,” takes place in modern times following 20 year old Andre (Fabrice Luchini) and his scantily clad 16 year old cousin, Julie (Lise Danvers) as they go on a bike ride to the beach so he can teach her about the tides. Only his version of tidal education involves oral sex from his younger cousin, who surprisingly, doesn’t resist at all.
The second segment, “Therese Philosophe,” takes place in 1890 and is about a pious young girl, Therese (Charlotte Alexandra), who was raped by a vagrant. Therese is walking around a church caressing every piece if fabric, every page of the bible, and stroking anything remotely phallic. When she gets home, Therese is locked in a room for three days and nights because, her Mother thinks she was out whoring around. Therese begs for her “Stations of the Cross” and is given only zucchini to eat. The room is apparently a storage room she has been locked in before. She pulls out a suitcase that has some erotic photos and uses the zucchini to masturbate to get closer to God.
“La Bete” is the third segment that was cut out of the theatrical release. The Beast in question, is the Beast of Gevaudan, an old French urban legend about a monster roaming the countryside, killing and eating anything in its path. This tale takes place in 1765 and starts out with a Victorian era Woman playing a piano and staring out the window at a sheep and its lamb, which gets loose and runs into the forest. The Woman runs after it and encounters the fierce Beast that happens to have a raging erection. As she is pursued by the Beast, he claws at her clothes that come off a piece at a time. When the Beast finally catches her, she must beat him at his own game.
The 4th segment, “Erzsebet Bathory,” is the alleged tale of Elizabeth Bathory (Paloma Picasso), who in 1610, was reputed to bathe in the blood of young women to stay young. In this story, she captures young maidens from the surrounding villages, takes them to the castle, clean them, and if they were worthy, she’d let them touch her legendary white gown, which many women would kill for the chance.
“Lucrezia Borgia” is the final segment. In 1498, Lucrezia Borgia (Florence Bellamy), with her husband Giovanni Sforza, visits her father, Pope Alexander VI and her brother, Cesare Borgia. Outside, someone is preaching to the masses that that this current incarnation of the church is immoral. Inside the church, the Pope discovers that Giovanni is impotent and can’t give him the the grandson he needs, so the Pope has him taken away and executed, leaving he and Cesar to keep it all in the family.
‘Immoral Tales’ has a lot of good qualities, such as beautiful women, breathtaking scenery, and excellent photography. If erotic cinema is your forte, then you won’t want to miss this Arrow Video release.
- New high definition digital transfers of two versions of the feature, the familiar four-part edition and the original five-part conception including the short film The Beast of Gévaudan (which later became the feature The Beast)
- Uncompressed Mono 2.0 PCM Audio
- Optional English subtitles
- Introduction by Borowczyk expert Daniel Bird
- Love Reveals Itself, a new interview programme featuring production manager Dominique Duvergé-Ségrétin and cinematographer Noël Véry
- Obscure Pleasures: A Portrait of Walerian Borowczyk, a newly-edited archival interview in which the filmmaker discusses painting, cinema and sex
- Blow Ups, a visual essay by Daniel Bird about Borowczyk’s works on paper
- Theatrical trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring Borowczyk’s own original poster design
- Illustrated booklet containing new writing on the film by by Daniel Bird and an archive piece by Philip Strick