Immoral Women is kind of a follow-up to Walerian Borowczyk's
more famous Immoral Tales, in which the director presented five short stories
with strong erotic elements. This time there are three erotic stories and their common
element is not really the heroines' immorality, as the English title implies, but rather their ability to
triumph over the men who would dominate them. All three segments would probably be
properly characterized as very dark comedies.
The erotic juxtaposition of humans and animals, often
full-fledged bestiality, is a recurring theme in Walerian Borowczyk's work. In
his most famous film, The Beast, a woman is raped by an undefined beast which
seems to be somewhere between a biological gorilla and a mythological werewolf,
and the film begins with a graphic portrayal of a stallion mounting a filly. The
Immoral Women trilogy has two stories which feature Borowczyk's curious
obsession with human/animal interaction. One takes place in contemporary Paris,
the other in some undefined period in the 18th or 19th century.
The modern-day story is fairly routine and not particularly
erotic. A rich woman is kidnapped and held for ransom. Her husband does not seem
to feel any real urgency about getting her back, and the kidnapper decides to
rape her while they wait for the husband to act. Her faithful dog, a large and
vicious protector, finally tracks her down and manages to dispose of both the
slimy husband and the pitiless kidnapper. The film ends with an embrace between
the naked damsel in distress and her canine rescuer. This story is tame
and conventional by Borowczyk's standards and doesn't even include much nudity.
The animal-themed period piece is by far the most erotic and
interesting of the three segments. Gaelle Legrand plays a teenager who seems to
be acting younger than her age. Although her physical development is complete,
she spends her days cuddling her pet rabbit Pinky, even using the bunny for
various erotic practices. Her parents feel that she needs to be broken of her
obsession with the rabbit, so they cruelly cook it for the family dinner,
telling her that she is eating lamb when she is actually eating poor old Pinky.
That seems fitting and symmetrical, since Pinky had been ... um ... eating her
in a previous scene. When the insensitive parents finally confess Pinky's fate
to their daughter, she does what I think any of us would do in her situation.
She sneaks out of the house naked and has sex with the local butcher, thus
giving the director a chance to juxtapose human sex with more living and dead
animals. The brutal butcher takes her virginity on the straw of his animal pen,
their experience augmented by the bleating of the sheep awaiting
slaughter. The rutting couple is also surrounded by stripped carcasses.
Eventually, Gaelle tricks the witless butcher into killing himself, then uses
his knives to slit the throats of her sleeping parents. She leaves behind enough
evidence to make it seem that the butcher had killed her parents before hanging
himself in shame. The story concludes with her in an orphanage, relating her
tale to an eager bedtime audience of her peers.
The third tale, the only one without any implicit or explicit
bestiality, tales place in Renaissance Italy and is a
much more familiar type of ribald story about a beautiful peasant woman who uses sex
to manipulate a prosperous artist and a wealthy art patron until they are both dead and she is back in her village with chests full of
their riches to share with her true love. This segment is the most blatantly comical
of the three and often edges over into true farce, with wacky falls through trap doors,
slapstick pokes in the eyeballs, and poison cakes swapped for real ones. As in the
contemporary tale, there is not much female nudity, although plenty of naked
males air out their penises while cavorting around Raphael's studio. The narrative
of this segment is not edited very smoothly, but
the segment is made watchable by a combination of humor, the exceptional facial beauty of
Marina Pierro, and some surprisingly excellent production values for a film
without a major studio budget. I found it fun to watch.
Lovers of Eurotica will find this anthology well worth watching for
First, the disc is a loving restoration of a film which has
never been made available before in any acceptable version on any home medium.
There has never been a DVD at all, and the video tapes were of inferior
quality. This version has been fully restored from a negative, and is totally
uncut and uncensored, thus representing a quantum leap from any version ever
previously available to the public.
Second, the middle segment, featuring Gaelle Legrand and
Pinky, is one of the classics of transgressive cinema, and ranks among
Borowczyk's best achievements. This segment is so good that it makes up for
any disappointment one might experience with the others. The darkly humorous
plot is clever, if totally demented. The parents are comically cruel. The sick
humor works fairly well. (I have to love the sadistic humor in the shot of Pinky's carcass hanging
in the manor's window, with the fluffy skin hanging down below the stripped
meat.) The photography is both artistic and technically competent. The
imagery is richly imagined. Gaelle's masturbation with the bunny is a classic
erotic scene, strangely beautiful and slowly erotic, yet comical at the same
time. The sex scene with the butcher is quite wild and spirited. In addition,
Gaelle has a spectacular body and is completely naked for much of the
segment's running time.