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Passion (Simona) 
Written by: on March 27th, 2009

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1974
Director: Patrick Longchamps
Writer: Patrick Longchamps
Cast: Laura Antonelli, Marc Audier, Ramon Berry, Maurizio Degli Esposti, Michel Lechat, Patrick Magee, Margot Margaret, Jo Maxane, Yvette Merlin, Quentin Milo, Germaine Pascal, John Trigger, Raf Vallone

DVD released: April 28th, 2009
Approximate running time: 86 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 full frame
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian
Subtitles: English
DVD Release: Mya Communication
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95

Synopsis: A young woman named Simona and her lover Georges, befriend a naïve young woman Marcelle, who they catch spying on them when they are making love. Ever since the tragic death of her mother, Marcelle has been sheltered away from the world by her possessive father. The two lovers’ corruption of the sexually repressed Marcelle ends tragically.

Passion was originally released under the title Simona, which also happens to be the name of the film lead character that is admirably portrayed by Laura Antonelli. The plot for this film is based on a novel titled Histoire de l’oeil (Story of the Eye), that was written by French author Georges Bataille whose works have often been compared to authors like Marquis De Sade and Friedrich Nietzsche. The screenplay for Passion was written by Patrick Longchamps who also directed the film. Trying to uncover any information about Patrick Longchamps, proved to be difficult and I was inclined at first into thinking that this name might be a alias? Especially since this film had an unusual release history and was originally delayed a few years after being completed. According to this article, Patrick Longchamps is indeed real and not an alias. Also that article suggests that the film may have been made as early as 1966 / 1967. The most common date listed as the film’s original release date is 1974. The score for Passion was composed by Fiorenzo Carpi whose other notable scores include a pair of Tinto Brass films The Howl and Salon Kitty.

The plot for Passion (Simona) feels disjointed and some of this is most likely due to the fact that the original source material Georges Bataille’s Histoire de l’oeil is told episodically via an unnamed male narrator. The film is bookend opening / closing with Simona who is attending a bull fight serves as the starting point for the memories which fill the remainder of the film. Many of the scenes which make up Simona’s recollections have a surreal quality to them, which almost makes one wonder if this is her skewed view of the events that had transpired. There are many great moments in this film with two of the more proactive being, a scene where we are lead to believe that Marcelle is riding a horse and when the camera pulls back it reveals that she is have sex with her uncle. The other standout scene is a flashback sequence that shows the events which lead to Marcelle’s mothers’ death. Even though the film puts Simona front and center as its lead character, the story actually focuses more on Marcelle.

This film is billed as one of Laura Antonelli’s first starring role, she does a good job capturing the playful and devious sides of Simona. Other notable films that she has appeared in include Massimo Dallamano’s Venus in Furs, The Eroticist and Malizia. Laura Antonelli’s shining moment in the film is a scene where Georges is rolling an egg over Simona’s naked body. The film features two superb performances from two veteran character actors that are cast in secondary roles. The ever so intense Patrick Magee (A Clockwork Orange) is cast as Marcelle’s father and Raf Vallone (A View from the Bridge) is cast as her perverted uncle. The film’s other two major players Maurizio Degli Esposti in the role of Georges and Margot Margaret in the role of Marcelle, are very good in their respective roles.

The DVD:

Passion is presented in a 4:3 full frame aspect ratio. This transfer has been flagged for progressive playback. The opening credits and end titles are presented in a letterboxed widescreen. The opening and closing credits which have some credits which are just off frame, lead me to believe that the 1.66:1 aspect ratio listed for this film on the IMDB is this film’s correct ratio and not the 4:3 ratio, that is it presented in. Colors and flesh tones fluctuate with some instances of washed out colors. Also details look to soft during the darker moments and there is noticeable edge enhancement. There is print damage that varies throughout and for the most part the print damage while noticeable it is kept in check for the bulk of the film.

This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in Italian. There are some minor issues with distortion and background noise. The audio while not dynamic it is more than adequate in presenting this film. This release comes with two subtitle options English and Italian. The subtitles are easy to read and follow.

This release comes with no extra content. Overall Passion gets a lackluster audio / video presentation.

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