Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 27th, 2007
Theatrical Release Dates: France/Japan 1979
Directors: Just Jaeckin, Shuji Terayama, Walerian Borowczyk
Cast: Roland Blanche, Marie-Catherine Conti, Laura Gemser, Juzo Itami, Hiromi Kawai
DVD released: January 30th, 2007
Approximate running time: 103 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono French, Dolby Digital English (Kusa Meika)
DVD Release: Severin Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
L’Ile Aux Sirenes: A sailor after being tossed from his boat washes up on a tropical island. At first his loneliness drives him mad as he looks for a way off this deserted island. One day he soon discovers that he is not alone when he comes across a beautiful native girl and when around the same time rescue ship passes the island he decides to reach out for their help and stay on the island instead. She takes him to here home where she has four other women who are waiting for them. The women wait on his every beck and call including stratifying his sex drive. Has he found heaven or do these women have ulterior motives for helping the castaway?
Anyone who is even remotely familiar with erotic cinema from the 1970’s and early 1980’s knows who director Just Jaeckin is. Some of his films include Emmanuelle, Lady Chatterley’s Lover and The Perils of Gwendoline are some of his most famous films. His entry for this anthology of stories titled “L’Ile Aux Sirene” has all the hallmarks that we have come expect when watching a Just Jaeckin film. The tropical location and cast of beautiful women are all exquisitely photographed and used to their fullest.
The main reason to watch this film is of course the lovely Laura Gemser who is impossible not to become infatuated with. Let’s face it if you on a deserted island wouldn’t you want a woman like Laura Gemser to stalk you. The film also features a space out score that is a cross between disco and a porno soundtrack. The films ending is an oddly appropriate and fitting ending to the action that precedes it. Overall L’Ile Aux Sirenes is without a doubt the best of the three stories which make up Private Collections.
Kusa Meika: A young boy named Akira becomes infatuated with a crazy spin-tress who lost her mind after being jilted by a former lover. The young boys’ mother warns him of this woman’s evil ways and he refuses to listen to his mother. Can Akira get this woman out of his system or has he gone too far too ever break free of her hold on him?
This is the most abstract of the three tales; still it is filled with the strongest visuals. Kusa Meika is also the strongest graphically when it comes to sexual content of the three tales in this collection. One thing that hurts this story is that you either can watch it with French or English narration over the original Japanese dialog. I have never been a fan of this type of narration and it is a pity that this story doesn’t come with a Japanese language option. Overall Kusa Meika is the least accessible of the three tales included in this collection.
L’Armoir: A wealthy man encounters with a prostitute while on vacation in Paris.
L’Armoir is the third and final tale included in the Private Collections and it was directed by the legendary erotic filmmaker Walerian Borowczyk. Like many of his previous films this one is period costume drama. This segment is sumptuously photographed soft focus giving this segment an artistic edge over the other two included in this collection. Despite being the shortest of the three segments I found L’Armoir to be the most tedious and lacking of erotica. I have seen over a half dozen of Walerian Borowczyk and L’Armoir is the first time that I have walked away from one of his films disappointed with the end result.
Severin Films presents Private Collections in an anamorphic widescreen which retains the film’s original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Once again this is another solid transfer from Severin that boasts vivid colors and razor sharp detail in the background and foreground. The source material used is in immaculate shape and print damage is nonexistent.
This release comes with two audio options. You can either watch the film in French or you can watch the Just Jaeckin and Walerian Borowczyk in French while the Shuji Terayama segment is narrated in English. Even though Japanese is listed as a language there is no Japanese included for this release outside of some titles in Japanese. Both audio mixes are in good shape and free of any distortion or major sound defects. Dialog is clear and removable English subtitles have been included.
Extras include a trailer for Private Collections, biographies for Just Jaeckin, Shuji Terayama and Walerian Borowczyk. The main extra is a nine minute interview with director Just Jaeckin who discusses how he looked at making this film like he was taking a holiday since he even years later still doesn’t like it that much. Overall Severin Films have done an amazing job bringing another classic erotica film to DVD with their solid DVD presentation and handful of interesting extras.