Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 19th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: 1959 (The Astronauts), 1968 (Goto, Island of Love), 1975 (The Beast), 1988 (Love Rites)
Director: Walerian Borowczy (Except for The Astronauts Walerian Borowczyk & Chris Marker)
Cast: Philippe Lifchitz (The Astronauts), Pierre Brasseur, Ligia Branice, Jean-Pierre Andréani (Goto, Island of Love), Sirpa Lane, Lisbeth Hummel, Elisabeth Kaza, Pierre Benedetti (The Beast), Marina Pierro, Mathieu Carrière, Josy Bernard (Love Rites)
DVD released:February 28th, 2006
Approximate running time: 372 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Goto Island of Love), 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (The Beast), 1.66:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen (Love Rites)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Freneh (All Three Films), Dolby Digital Mono English (The Beast)
Subtitles: English (All Three Films)
DVD Release: Cult Epics
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $59.95
Goto, Island of Love: Goto the third is a sadistic dictator who rules of the people on the remote island of Goto. Criminals are used as a form of entertainment with the winner of the death match given their freedom. Grozo who’s crime was stealing another man’s binoculars is forced to fight for his life against a man who has committed multiple murders. Grozo life is spared by Goto’s wife Glyssia and he is given the job of taking care of Goto’s dogs and catching all the flies on the island. Grozo who has become infatuated with Glyssia also has a desire to rule of the island of Goto.
Walerian Borowczyk with Goto Island of Love smoothly makes the transition from animation to live action features. Borowczyk directs the film with a silent film like quality as most of the action and compositions are a typical in their execution. Goto Island of Love is tame when compared to his later films, still there are many instances like the near naked women in the bath house or Glyssia and her lover making love in a horse stable that allude to themes he would further explore in later films. The films black and white photography perfectly complements Georg Friedrich Handel’s classic compositions. Grozo obsession with power and Glyssia leads to a powerful and tragic ending. Overall a mesmerizing film that filled with poetic images and a compelling story that is engaging tell the final moments.
The Beast: Lucy Broadhurst is an American heiress who travels to France with her aunt. She is going to France to meet her future husband Mathurin de l’Esperance for the first time. They have only spoken via the letters they wrote each other. The de l’Esperance’s were once wealthy French aristocrats who have fallen on hard time and now they are placing the burden of reclaiming their former glory on the shoulders of Mathurin. After Lucy’s arrival there is so much to do with only a matter of days to prepare before the date preordain for her and Mathurin’s wedding. While Lucy waits for her wedding day she dreams of the former lady of the house Romilda de l’Esperance who had a sexual encounter with beast. Will Lucy try to forget these things she has dreamed or have they aroused a desire that has always been hidden deep within her?
The Beast originally was to be part of Walerian Borowczyk’s anthology film Immoral Tales. Borowczyk would take what started out as a seventeen minute short and expand in into a feature length film.
The Beast immediately grabs your attention with its opening credits that have sounds of horses getting ready to copulate. The first images of the film are that of a male horse who aggressively pursues then mounts his female prey. This scene like many in this film is not for the faint of heart as we are shown in graphic detail the mating process of horses.
The plot starts off slowly as we are introduced too all the main players. After the arrival of the Lucy Broadhurst is when things start to get interesting with the best moments in the film being without a doubt the sexual encounter between Romilda de l’Esperance and The Beast. This scene despite being borderline pornographic is a thousand times more erotic then any sex scene in a porno. Romilda is defiant at first before ultimately becoming submissive so much so that she gets lost in her ecstasy.
Walerian Borowczyk has a distinct visual eye that is lyrical and lucid. Everything about The Beast is done with the utmost care and each scene is beautifully photographed by cinematography by Bernard Daillencourt. The Beast is a truly unique film from a one of a kind artist.
Love Rites: Hugo (Mathieu Carriere) becomes infatuated with Myriam (Marina Pierro) a prostitute after seeing her one day on the subway. Hugo’s growing obsession for Myriam leads him down a dark path where ecstasy and pain are one in the same.
Love Rites has all the markings that we have come to expect while watching a Walerian Borowczyk seductive imagery and adult themes. At time some of the action in the film feels forced as the camera movements is not as subtle as Borowczyk earlier films. The story starts off slowly before finally coming together in the final act. The strongest part of this film is its two leads Marina Pierro and Mathieu Carrière. Both give convincing performances that help elevate the films weak plot. Marina Pierro looks stunning in the film and she was the perfect choice for Myriam the black widow like seductress. Overall even though Love Rites is far from Borowczyk’s best work as a director it is still a fascinating swan song from one of cinema’s most unique filmmakers.
Cult Epics presents Goto Island of Love in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The black and white photography has solid blacks and the contrast looks dead on. There is some minor print damage and grain is kept to a minimum. Overall Cult Epic’s transfer looks stunning.
Goto Island of Love comes with one audio option French which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Dialog is crisp and easy to follow. There is some minor hiss, still nothing that ever becomes too distracting. The music and effects sounds evenly mixed. Overall this audio mix sounds pretty good considering the age of this film. English Subtitles have been included that are easy to read and follow.
Cult Epics presents The Beast in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Colors look nicely saturated and details remain sharp throughout. There is some minor print damage and grain is kept to a minimum. Overall Cult Epic’s did an amazing job with this transfer.
The Beast comes with two audio options French or English which are both presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Both tracks are free of any hiss or distortion and dialog is always easy to understand. The music and effects sounds evenly mixed. Overall despite sounding a tad thin at times these audio mixes more then get the job done. English Subtitles have been included that are easy to read and follow.
Cult Epics presents Love Rites in a letterboxed aspect ratio that looks like it faithfully retains the film’s original aspect ratio. Outside of some softness this non anamorphic transfer fares pretty good with solid colors and the print used is virtually free of any print damage. Overall Cult Epic’s transfer looks adequate with room for improvement.
Love Rites comes with one audio option French which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Dialog sound clear and there are no problems with hiss or distortion. The music and effects sound evenly mixed. Overall this audio mix fares slightly better than this films transfer. English Subtitles have been included that are easy to read and follow.
Extras for Goto, Island of Love include a trailer for the film, a filmography for the director and liner notes about the film.
The main extra for this release is a fourteen minute cartoon titled “The Astronauts” in which a man builds a spaceship out of newspapers. Outside of music and sound effects this short is virtually free on any dialog. This film is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The colors look strong with only some minor instances of faded colors. There is some minor print damage, still nothing that ever becomes too distracting. Overall it is an interesting short and Cult Epic’s transfer is more than satisfactory.
Extras for The Beast include a trailer for the film, a photo gallery with 16 stills and liner notes about the film. The extras are a bit sparse and not as extensive as Cult Epic’s three DVD set of The Beast which they released in 2004.
Extras for Love Rites include a photo gallery and liner notes about the film. Also this release comes with two versions of the film the eighty seven minute directors cut and a ninety seven minute cut of the film that is nice to have even if the added scenes offer very little in the way of enhancing the story or getting to know the characters.
Each of the three main features and the short film The Astronauts come with postcards that have an image from each film.
The Beast and Love Rites have both been released before while Goto Island of Love makes its DVD début in the set and all three titles are available separately.
Cult Epics Walerian Borowczyk collection collects three films from three distinctively different periods of Borowczyk’s long and varied career as a filmmaker, highly recommended.