Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 29th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: Poland, 1975
Director: Walerian Borowczyk
Writer: Walerian Borowczyk
Cast: Grazyna Dlugolecka, Jerzy Zelnik, Olgierd Lukaszewicz, Roman Wilhelmi, Marek Walczewski, Karolina Lubienska, Zdzislaw Mrozewski, Mieczyslaw Voit, Marek Bargielowski, Jolanta Szemberg, Zbigniew Zapasiewicz, Wladyslaw Hancza, Jadwiga Chojnacka
BluRay released: March 13th, 2017 (UK), March 28th, 2017 (USA)
Approximate running times: 130 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: LPCM Mono Polish
BluRay Release: Arrow Academy USA
Region Coding: Region Free / Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £24.99 (UK)
Synopsis: Eva has fallen in love with the new lodger Lukasz Niepolomski who has moved into her parents’ place. Their brief affair is quickly ended when he is unable to get a divorce from his wife. They are later reunited when he is wounded during a duel. Eva stays with him and nurses him back to health. Lukasz goes to Rome to once and for all finalize his divorce so that he can finally be with Eva. While in Rome his is imprisoned and when Eva hears about this she rushes to be by his side. When she arrives she soon discovers that his has already left. Eva spends the next few years traveling around Europe looking for Lukasz.
Story of Sin is loosely based on Stefan Zeromski novel Dzieje grzechu (Story of Sin). And when viewed in the larger context of Walerian Borowczyk’s oeuvre, it is astonishing that the same person that directed this poetic period drama would later direct in the same year the borderline pornographic film The Beast.
Though this film’s subject matter features themes that are predominate throughout the majority of film directed by Walerian Borowczzy. With the one major difference between Story of Sin and Walerian Borowczzy more well-known subversive films being is the subtle and not pervasive way in which the story is told.
The film is filled with lush photography and long languid shots that are rarely interrupted by kick edits. And the films strongest asset is actress Grazyna Dlugolecka who made her acting debut in the film as Eva. Her transformation from a naïve young woman into a victim who has lost all of herself worth is heartbreaking and tragic. Throughout the film her character meets several shady men who make promises to her that they never planned to keep.
Standout moments include, a scene where Eva has just received roses and she covers her body as she lay naked in bed. Other standout moments include, a scene where Eva is cornered and forced to be the property of one of the men has been obsessing over her. And a scene where Eva lights the apartment she has been staying at on fire, after she helped rob and murder another one of her admires.
From a production stand point, there is not a single area where this film does not deliver in spades. The narrative is meticulously constructed and pacing is never an issues as key moments are given an ample amount of time to resonate. The characters are well defined and their motivations are never in doubt? Ultimately Story of Sin is an extraordinary melodrama that has languished in the shadows for far too long.
Story of Sin comes on a 50 GB dual layer (45.8 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The transfer for this release comes from a new 2K restoration from the original film negative and the end result is a spectacular looking transfer that is on par with Arrow’s other Walerian Borowczyk releases. Grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in Polish and removable English subtitles have also been included with this release. The soundtrack for this release was sourced from the original re-recorded 35mm magnetic tape. Dialog comes through with the utmost clarity, everything sounds balanced and robust when its needs too, especially the film’s main theme. Range wise this is an area that far exceeds all expectations as there is a tremendous amount of depth and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented throughout.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 10 seconds), an introduction before the film with poster designer Andrzej Klimowski (8 minutes 20 seconds), a video essay by Daniel Bird titled Stories of Sin (11 minutes 49 seconds), a featurette titled The Music Box (19 minutes), an interview with actress Grazyna Dlugolecka titled The First Sinner (23 minutes 33 seconds, in Polish with English subtitles) and an audio commentary with Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger.
Topics discussed in the interview with Grazyna Dlugolecka include, how she first encountered Walerian Borowczyk after doing a retrospective of his films while attending drama school, how Story of Sin was originally going to star Ligia Branice and why she was not ultimately cast, her thoughts about Walerian Borowczyk and comments about various films that he directed, how the film was adapted from a novel written by Stefan Zeromski, nudity, the cast, collaborating with Walerian Borowczyk and his creative process, key moments, onset memories, the film’s Palme d’Or nomination at Cannes and why she was unable to attend, how Story of Sin affected his career as an actress and how Walerian Borowczyk take on eroticism greatly differs compared to other filmmakers.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, how they first became aware of Walerian Borowczyk, Story of Sin and how it is not as well-known as his more subversive films, the novel which the film was adapted from, Walerian Borowczyk’s diversity as a filmmaker, information about Grazyna Dlugolecka and their thoughts about her performance, the cast, their thoughts about other films also directed by Walerian Borowczyk, themes and recurring obsessions of Walerian Borowczyk and the depiction of women in his films.
Other extras include, a video essay on Borowczyk and Lenica’s contributions to newsreels and documentaries on art history titled Miscellaneous (7 minutes 4 seconds), a short news reel documentary about poster art co-written by Borowczyk titled Street Art (11 minutes 34 seconds, in Polish with English subtitles), an interview with Juliusz Zamecznik, son of photographer and graphic artist Wojciech Zamecznik titled Tools of the Trade (6 minutes 24 seconds), an interview with poster artist, illustrator and print maker Teresa Byszewska, who appears briefly in Dom titled Poster Girl (4 minutes 3 seconds, in Polish with English subtitles) and new 2K restorations from the original negatives of Borowczyk’s ground-breaking Polish shorts co-directed by Jan Lenica, Once Upon a Time (9 minutes 11 seconds, an optional audio commentary track with art historian Szymon Bojko), Dom (11 minutes 27 seconds, an optional audio commentary track with composer Wlodzimierz Kotonsk) and The School (7 minutes 24 seconds, an optional audio commentary track with Daniel Bird).
Topics discussed in the interview with Teresa Byszewska include, art school, Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica contributions to animation and how their creative process differs.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary for Once Upon a Time include, his thoughts about the film and Walerian Borowczyk. This extra is in Polish with English subtitles.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary for Dom include, his various collaborations with Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica. This extra is in Polish with English subtitles.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary for The School include, information about this short film, how this was Walerian Borowczyk first solo collaboration without Jan Lenica, his thoughts about The School and how it relates to other films directed by Walerian Borowczyk.
Rounding out the extras is reversible cover art featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Andrzej Klimowski and a forty-four page booklet with cast & crew info for Story of Sin, an essay titled Andrzej Zulawski on Story of Sin, an essay titled Borowczyk: Movie Magician written by Szymon Bojko, Walerian Borowczyk: An Interview (Interview was conducted in 1975), An Interview with director Stanislaw Rozewicz, an essay titled Poland’s Immoral Subconscious: Borowczyk’s Polish Years written by Daniel Bird, Short Films and Miscellaneous (Cast & Crew information for the short films included with this release) and information about the restorations.
Also, included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Story of Sin is another exceptional release from Arrow who continue to raise the bar when it comes to special edition releases, highly recommended.