Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 26th, 2006
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
DVD Released: 2003
Approximate Running Time: 130 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Polish
DVD Release: Nouveaux Pictures
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: $31.95
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.
Nouveaux Pictures presents Story of Sin in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The source print used is at times a little rough around the edges as there are many instances of nicks and scratches as well as noticeable cigarette burns. The colors fare better as there are no problems with colors bleeding into each other. Overall this transfer despite its flaws is more then watch able.
This release comes with only one audio option the film’s original Polish language track which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. The audio sounds too thin at times and I had to adjust the volume a few times. There is also some noticeable hiss throughout. The audio while not in the greatest shape is more than serviceable. Removable English subtitles have been included that are easy to read and follow.
The extras for this release include three text essay’s Dzieje Grzechu 2000, Stefan Zeromski and Father Walerien of the Devils: The Strange Case of Wayward Auteur. All three essay’s are well written and informative. Other extras include two interviews one with actress Grazyna Dlugolecka who discusses how she got the role of Eva and working with director Walerian Borowczzy. The second interview is with Walerian Borowczy who discusses sex and eroticism in his films. Rounding out the extras is an audio commentary with Walerian Borowczzy expert Daniel Bird who is filled with many great facts and stories about Borowczyk. The audio commentary does suffer from many instances of dead silence as Daniel Bird disappears from time to time.
Nouveaux Pictures Story of Sin DVD comes with some interesting extras that offer more insight into the film Story of Sin and while their audio/video presentation for the film is less than stellar is more than adequate until a more definitive release of this film comes along.