Sunday, 6 April 2008

Immoral Tales (1974)

Walerian Borowczyk started his career as a painter, then moved into animation, before finally starting to make movies with live actors. You might expect that his movies would therefore look like a series of still images that have been animated, and in the case of Contes immoraux (Immoral Tales) you’d be absolutely right. The movie comprises four short pieces, but they’re completely plotless. In fact what Borowczyk seems mostly interested in is textures and patterns. He achieved considerable notoriety in the 1970s with his erotic films, of which Immoral Tales is probably the best-known. Despite truly staggering amounts of nudity the results are strangely non-erotic, perhaps because there’s a certain lifelessness to the images. It’s as if he’s only interested in the bodies for the interesting patterns he can create with them. Of the four tales the most interesting is the one featuring Paloma Picasso (yes, the daughter of the painter) as Elisabeth Bathory, the Hungarian noblewoman who bathed in the blood of virgins and was one of the sources for the legends of vampires. It was a major hit in 1974 (despite its extreme artiness), although Borowczyk now seems to be all but forgotten. One of those movies that could only have been made in the 70s, with that characteristic 70s blend of the arty and the erotic. I definitely wouldn’t recommend buying this one unless you’re sure you like Borowczyk’s movies – otherwise rent it first.

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