Walerian Borowczyk | Offscreen
Polish-born Walerian Borowczyk (1923-2006) was an exemplary case of that enviable sort of artist: the all-around and multi-talented uomo universale. Starting off his career as a designer for film posters with a background in the Fine Arts (more specifically painting), Borowczyk gained recognition with the short animated film “Dom” he collaborated on with fellow poster designer Jan Lenica. With the awarded prize money, he started a new life and career in Paris, where he directed a string of short films using different types of animation techniques. His first live-action feature, “Goto, Island of Love”, adapted with ease to the prevailing trends in the modernist cinema of the 1960s. In “Blanche”, he delivered a sample of things to come: a story set in a past era, framed with a historian’s eye for period detail and an artistic sensitivity to the beauty of the image. The veiled eroticism of “Blanche” was later made explicit in films that were decisively sexual and subversive ("Contes immoraux", "Behind Convent Walls", "La Bête”).
Following his burst onto the scene of the French arthouse cinema, the director returned to his native Poland to shoot a film in the tradition of the naturalistic novel. Mood and outline are decidedly dismal, its point of departure the struggle of a woman left to fend for herself in the early 20th century.
Borowczyk's first live-action feature is a playful allegory and political satire about the survivors of a natural disaster. Cut off from the outside world on a remote island, they indoctrinate a future generation. A bizarre film that doesn't shy away from alienating its audience to get its unique vision across.
The beautiful Ligia Branice plays a most desirable lady-in-waiting. As pure as the driven snow, ‘Blanche’ arouses all that lay eyes upon her, but she doesn’t really benefit from her sexual magnetism. Painterly analysis of the dynamics between male and female that ultimately leave woman a victim.
With this work, Borowczyk’s standing as ‘artful pornographer’ was set in stone. Scanty as the morals of these stories may be, their enormous historical scope is anything but. An exploration of taboo and deviant sexuality in an erotic quadriptych that sheds a daring light on what would normally be left unseen.
A rich heiress, after having been arranged to be married to a young man from an aristocratic family, spends a weary night in her new home where she dreams of being violated by a strange beast. The inflammatory subject matter created quite a stir when “The Beast” was first released upon an audience.
An erotic compendium that details the unconventional exploits of three young female protagonists and is set throughout the ages. Most notorious and subversive is the middle episode where a young girl finds sexual awakening through the kindness of her innocent, fluffy little bunny rabbit.
Married to the quarrelsome (and bionic!) Mrs. Kabal, Mr. Kabal has his hands full with trying to silence his beloved but domineering dragon of a wife. This truly unique and grotesque curio is a mash-up of different animation techniques and shows a reverse "Punch & Judy" to hilarious effect.
In this exploitative portrayal of life in an Italian cloister, Mother Superior runs into problems trying to keep the hormonally-challenged nuns and their vows of chastity in check. A delicious attack on catholic hypocrisy with equal doses of lunacy and poetry, gorgeously lensed by Luciano Tovoli (“Suspiria”).