September 15th marked the release date of Walerian Borowczyk’s most controversial film, ‘The Beast,’ which is an elongated retelling of his segment, “La Bete” from ‘Immoral Tales.’
The Beast was met with much controversy due to it’s frank depiction of bestiality, and subsequently banned.
The film opens with Mathurin de l’Esperance (Pierre Benedetti) watching his horses mate with unnatural excitement. Meanwhile, in the chateau, Pierre de l’Esperance (Guy Trejan) is speaking about his plans to his uncle, Duc Rammendelo De Balo (Marcel Dalio), an invalid and brother to the Cardinal in Rome.
Pierre produces a letter written by Virginia Broadhurst (Elisabeth Kaza) that states her niece, Lucy (Lisbeth Hummel), is to marry Mathurin, per her father’s final will and testament, and the wedding is to be presided over by the Cardinal. This appears to upset the Duke as Mathurin was never baptized. The Duke tells Pierre to ask the Cardinal, but he states that he hasn’t spoken to him since Mathurin’s birth, and requests that the Duke do it, but the Duke flat out refuses. Pierre has planned for this eventuality and threatens to go to the authorities with evidence making the Duke complicit in his wife’s death.
Later, the Priest (Roland Armontel) shows up with two assistants to baptize Mathurin, but in exchange for a new roof and bell as a gift from the soon to be wed couple, the Priest lets Pierre baptize Mathurin alone. Meanwhile, the Duke is trying to call upon the Cardinal, but as soon as he mentions his own name, the Vatican hangs up on him. Pierre takes Mathruin into the bathroom alone and proceeds to shave and bathe him.
Lucy and her Aunt are on the way to the chateau and when the driver gets lost a few times, Lucy takes the opportunity to snap some photos and look around at the pond, the stone column, and the stables. Lucy, on the sly takes a few shots of the horses mating, and hides those photos for herself. When they finally arrive at the chateau, they are greeted by the Duke, who after a bit of small talk, produces a 200 year old diary written by Romilda de l’Esperance (Sirpa Lane), an ancestor of Mathurin’s, who had a rather peculiar situation happen to her that is now considered family legend. The Duke shows them Romilda’s corset that was discovered at the bottom of the pond with claw marks all over it.
As the night progresses, the Duke still can’t reach the Cardinal, which incenses Pierre, and Lucy has a vision of Romilda that reveals the truth of what happened to her and how it affected her bloodline.
The high-def transfer is flawless: The greenery is lush and the details in all of the animals are clear down to the most finite hair.
Love him or hate him, Borowczyk had a hell of an eye for detail and the erotically fantastical, and knew how to make an erotic film that had more substance than just a set of clunky scenes that were brought together to kind of make a movie.
CALLING ALL BOROWCZYK FANS: YOU’RE GOING TO WANT TO GRAB THIS ONE UP.
- New high definition digital transfer of the uncut 98-minute version
- Uncompressed Mono 2.0 PCM Audio
- Optional English subtitles
- Introduction by film critic Peter Bradshaw
- The Making of The Beast: camera operator Noël Véry provides a commentary on footage shot during the film’s production
- Frenzy of Ecstasy, a visual essay on the evolution of Borowczyk’s beast and the sequel that never was, Motherhood
- The Profligate Door, a documentary about Borowczyk’s sound sculptures featuring curator Maurice Corbet
- Boro Brunch, a reunion meal recorded in February 2014 reuniting members of Borowczyk’s crew
- Commercials by Borowczyk: Holy Smoke (1963), The Museum (1964) and Tom Thumb (1966)
- Gunpoint, a documentary short by Peter Graham produced and edited by Borowczyk (11:04)
- Behind Enemy Lines – The Making of Gunpoint (5:16)
- Theatrical trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring Borowczyk’s own original poster design
- Illustrated booklet featuring new writing on the film by Daniel Bird and an archive piece by David Thompson, illustrated with original stills