Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 21st, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1977
Director: Walerian Borowczyk
Cast: Ligia Branice, Howard Ross, Marina Pierro, Gabriella Giacobbe, Rodolfo Dal Pra, Loredana Martínez, Olivia Pascal
DVD Released: 2003
Approximate Running Time: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Nouveaux Pictures
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: $31.95
Synopsis: Abbess Flavia Orsini struggles to retain control of a convent filled with sexual repressed nuns. The Mother Superior’s niece Clara is her strongest ally as she believes that a spiritual calling lead her to the monastery. Will Abbess Flavia Orsini quench the lustful desires that burn in virtually every one of the nuns at the monastery before their wicked ways convert her niece Clara into a sinner?Behind Convent Walls is loosely based on Roman Walks, a story written by the notorious 19th century French author Stendhal. This film follows all the standard clichés that we have come to expect from the Nunsploitation genre like sexual repression and the liberation that comes ultimately from giving in to their desires.
Director Walerian Borowczyk takes on this genre with an artistic quality that has been rarely seen before as he shifts the focus away from the genre’s more exploitative plot devices and gives the viewer a more human look into the nuns who were sent to the monastery by their parents and their subsequent plight. Abbess Flavia Orsini’s own quest for control over these women only further separate her from them and the on setting reality of what is going on around her. The Abbess’s unwilling to compromise ultimately leads to her tragic demise.
The film’s most infamous scene which involves a nun named Clara who comes across a large piece of wood that is lying in pile of glass. She takes the wood and some of the fragments of glass back to her room to craft a large wooden dildo. This scene is nothing short of amazing as Ligia Branice the actress who portrays Clara looses herself in the moment. This is a bold scene that dances the line between art and pornography and as usual director Walerian Borowczyk beautifully captures this moment of pure ecstasy.
Behind Convent Walls was photographed by Cinematographer Luciano Tovoli who would also photograph the visual masterpiece Suspiria with the same artistry that he would also employee with his breathtaking use of soft focus lighting that gives the nuns a more angelic like look that remains even while they are doing naughty deeds. Overall Behind Convent Walls is filled with many splendid images and has more then it’s fare share of naked flesh on parade which make this film one of Walerian Borowczyk’s easiest films to digest.
Nouveaux Pictures presents Behind Convent Walls in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Outside of some noticeable grain and some minor print damage the image looks solid. This transfer was sourced from an uncut print and now the infamous scene were a nun pleasures herself with a dildo is now intact.
This release comes with only one audio option the film’s original English language track. The audio is crisp as the music and effects sound evenly balanced. There are some minor instances of background hiss and outside of this the rest of the mix is more than satisfactory.
Extras for this release include a gallery of photos and ten minute featurette titled “Behind the Walls” which includes interviews with Borowczyk expert/retrospective programmer Daniel Bird, Sam Dunn and Mondo Erotico webmaster Marc Morris. For its short length these collections of talking heads experts cover a lot of ground and add plenty of insight into Behind Convent Walls.
Nouveaux Pictures release not only comes with a few interesting extras it also presents the film fully uncut and in all of its glory, recommended.