The Beast

The Beast

The Beast

directed by Walerian Borowczyk

starring Sirpa Lane, Lisbeth Hummel, and Elisabeth Kaza

Argos Film/Arrow

It’s hard marrying off your mutant son; but it’s a job that must be done. In order to assure an inheritance, Lucy (Lisbeth Hummel) must marry Mathurin de l’Esperance (Pierre Benedetti). He’s not all that interested in women – breeding horses is more to this taste and he has a few other quirks, not the least of which is an embarrassing deformity. But more than that the wedding must be blessed by the missing Cardinal Joseph de Balo who is brother of Mathurin’s uncle Romilda (Sirpa Lane). But there’s some sort of weird disagreement between Romilda and his brother (and Mathurin’s dad) Pierre (Guy Tréjan). Pierre blatantly abuses Romilda, and you can tell this is not a happy family.

OK, this is 110 % a sex opera; this movie isn’t about plot so much as sexuality. If it can move, someone or something will couple with it. Director Borowczyk specializes in lust made visual and this is an elegant example. We start with the horses, advance to the pedophile priest (Roland Armontel) and his protégés Modeste (Thierry Bourdon) and Théodore (Anna Baldaccini). As a background fornication, Butler Iffany (Hassane Fall) does Mathurin’s sister Clarisse (Pascale Rivault), and Romilda seems to get off on abuse from his brother. There’s even a fantasy scene where Lucy gets raped by a Wookie-like monster; this sequence also showed up in Borowczyk’s Immoral Tales. Lucy is innocent yet knowing, and her chauffer might be James Earl Jones’s brother as he intones “I’m sorry ma’am, but I don’t know France all that well.”

There’s a Downton Abbey feel to this film, but a naughty version of it. It’s lovingly shot with high production values and professional actors. I liked this film but I feel really guilty about liking it. The horses were just doing their thing, but everyone else was paid for penetration. But I’ll assume they enjoyed the project. Borowczyk certainly did.

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