Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 12th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Spain, 1979
Director: Jesus Franco
Writer: Jesus Franco
Cast: Lina Romay, Armando Borges, Aida Gouveia, Albino Graziani, Susan Hemingway, Fernando Pereira, Mel Rodrigo
Approximate running time: 81 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.55:1 Letterboxed Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Castilian
DVD Release: Magna Films
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (Spain)
Retail Price: $18.95
Synopsis: Martine de Bressac returns home after a brief stay in a mental institution only to discover that her husband Armand who has been having an affair with a man named Fiore who works for them. Norma is a novice nun who violated body is discovered in the woods by Armand who takes the young woman home. Armand, Norma and Fiore conspire to rid themselves of Martine by murdering her and taking her fortune.
Sinfonía Erótica sees Jess Franco returning once again to the writings of the Marquis De Sade for inspiration. The plot center’s around wealthy woman whose husband wants to dispose of her and collect her riches. Franco confines the action to one house and the grounds surrounding it. The plot unfolds is a dream like way with visuals and music coexisting as one. The story features strong characters like Martine de Bressac the wealthy wife and a nun named Norma. The sex scenes are very raw and at times animalistic. Franco also uses sound to heighten the mood with moaning and other sexual sounds echoed. The location used also serves the story well with its archaic looking structure. Despite the films deliberately slow pacing the film never loses any of its charm. Jealously seems to be the main factor that ties all the characters together. The films ending is a nice twist that is all to appropriate for what leads up to it.
The cast is lead by the mesmerizing performance from Lina Romay as the jilted wife who is tormented by her unfaithful husband. There are plenty of moments where Romay fondles herself and a sensual lesbian trust with Susan Hayward character Norma. Another stand out performance is that of actress Susan Hayward who is very satisfying in a non victim role. The rest of the cast as whole are very good in their respective roles. Sinfonía Erótica holds up well with the rest of Jess Franco’s Marquis De Sade adaptations. One of the Sinfonía Erótica’s greatest strengths is how the story is told is such a way that discerning what is real and what is a dream/nightmare is not ever defined. The films score is mostly comprised of Franz Liszt’s Dream of Love No.3.
Ultimately Sinfonía Erótica another superb Marquis De Sade adaption form Jess Franco that is highlighted by Lina Romay’s most accomplished performance of her career.
The DVD back cover lists that Sinfonía Erotica is presented in a 1.55:1 aspect ratio. The image is only slightly letterboxed at the top and bottom of the frame. The letterboxing is framed in such a way that the image is essentially full frame. Cropping does appear to minimal as the original aspect ratio is most likely a 1.66:1 framing. Colors looked muted, details look soft and there is minimal print damage throughout. Overall the image is watchable even though it leaves a lot of room for improvement.
One audio option has been included with this release a Dolby Digital mono mix in Castilian. The audio has background noise and there are some instances of distortion. The audio also sounds muffled and thin. No subtitles have been included with this release.
Extra content include cast & crew lists, extensive filmographies for Lina Romay & Jess Franco and liner notes about the film written by Francesco Cesari. The main extra is a nine minute short based on the works of the Marquis De Sade. Jess Franco and Lina Romay had hand in the production and Jess Franco even has a cameo in the short.
Manga Films Sinfonía Erotica release leaves a lot of room for improvement with its less than stellar audio/video presentation and until a better or more definitive release comes along this release will have to do.