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Story of Sin (2-Disc Special Edition) [Blu-ray + DVD]
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The life of a beautiful, young and pious woman is thrown into chaos when her parents takes in a dashingly handsome lodger. Having embarked on a torrid affair, the lodger goes off to Rome to seek a divorce from his estranged wife.
Unable to live apart from her beloved, our hero leaves home only to fall prey to the infatuations and lusts of a band of noble admirers, unsavoury criminals and utopian do-gooders...
The only feature Walerian Borowczyk (The Beast, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Miss Osbourne) made in his native Poland, Story of Sin transforms Stefan Zeromski s classic melodrama into a deliriously surrealistic meditation on l amour fou.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully illustrated collector s booklet featuring new and archival writing, including an exclusive interview with the producer of Story of Sin, director Stanislaw Rozewicz; a text by art historian and one-time Borowczyk collaborator, Szymon Bojko; and excerpts from Borowczyk s memoirs presented in English for the first time.
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Top Customer Reviews
Set at the turn of the 20th century, “Story of Sin” has a period setting complete with appropriate costumes and manners. The initial meeting of Lukas and Ewa, for instance, is depicted with formality. Yet, in later scenes, Lukas is groping Ewa in a public park and she is reading his love letters while lying in bed stark naked. Director Walerian Borowczyk incorporates a sexual threat in most of his scenes, ranging from a lascivious artist (another lodger) to a man who propositions Ewa in a village tavern. The men who lust after her do so because they regard her, like all women, as prey they can use for their pleasure. Even Ewa’s father is shown to be lascivious.
Director Borowczyk uses the music of Mendelssohn and Pachelbel to set the mood. At 130 minutes, the movie could use some judicious editing. The erotic sensibility is maintained throughout and there’s a sense that we are voyeurs of Ewa’s forbidden, very personal sexual awakening.
Bonus materials on the 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include a new interview featurette on Borowczyk”s innovative use of classical music in his films; new interview featurette on the director’s career in Poland; new interview with actor Grazyna Dlugolecka; reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork; and an illustrated collector’s booklet containing new and archival writing and an interview with the producer of “Story of Sin.” The film is in Polish, with English subtitles.
Yes, this is the same director responsible for The Beast (1975), one of the most ridiculously sexually explicit fairy tales ever filmed, and who continued pursued his obsession with genitalia into the horror genre with The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne (1981). Borowczyk apologists seem to be able to look beyond his rather grotesque fascinations, admiring the craft that lies underneath. And The Story of Sin is one of the few feature films that support their argument.
Ewa believes she's found true love with Lukasz, who has come to Warsaw in hopes that the church will grant him a divorce. But circumstances conspire to tear them apart, first in the form of a duel that leaves Lukasz shot through the lung. After a long recuperation he leaves once again...but also leaves Ewa pregnant. Ostracized and struggling to make ends meet, Ewa gives birth but kills the child in a fit of desperation and shame.
A series of men, including a wealthy Duke who fired the shot that nearly killed her beloved, gravitate around her with mixed intentions. Still pining after her lost love, who's now in prison, Ewa agrees to almost anything to earn his freedom. But when it comes - and their reunion is tragically thwarted once again - she succumbs to a life of sex, crime and bitter grapes.
Borowczyk is playing in the same sandbox as other "erotic historical epics" like Justine and Emmanuelle (a franchise to which the director would later contribute), but his approach is much more respectfully restrained. The only exploitation occurring in Story of Sin is poor Ewa's push-pull relationship with the opposite sex. Manipulated, manhandled, blackmailed and raped, her life is a series of bad choices and poor timing, all in pursuit of a noble cause. There's no pleasure to be had in her fall from grace, unlike the clumsy erotic fumblings of a Jess Franco film. Here, the body is merely a vessel for suffering until the soul can be released.
Borowczyk shoots with his usual eye for composition, layered behind an intentionally foggy gauze of Old World authenticity. Even with a limited budget that often shows at the seams (the climactic gun battle sports plenty of awkward cuts and "You got me!" stage falls to avoid effects work and/or the censors), his film looks intricately detailed, down to the grimy rooms and dirty fingernails. What Story of Sin lacks is a real connection with its main character, Ewa. Borowczyk curiously shoots actress Grazyna Dlugolecka at angles that obscure her behind furniture, faces or floppy hats, never allowing her eyes to do any acting outside of a few key scenes. It leaves the film with a calculating sense of cruelty with no mirror to put things into perspective.
Arrow Films have been a champion of Borowczyk's work from the very beginning, releasing several stand-alone titles and a box set that document his career from posters and shorts to internationally renowned filmmaker. And the latest Blu-ray / DVD combo continues the trend, packaged with an impressive amount of extras to go along with the new 2K restoration from the original film negative. An audio commentary is paired up with several interviews from the cast, filmmakers, poster artists and film critics - plus another essential video essay - that shed light on the director's particular obsessions. But even more noteworthy are the 2K restorations of a trio of Borowczyk's early film shorts: Once Upon a Time, Dom and The School, paired with optional audio commentaries. Add in a collectible booklet and reversible covert art and even those on the fence about the director's work have to be impressed with the effort Arrow has made to convince them otherwise.
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