(Lisa Danvers, Paloma Picasso, et al / Blu ray / NR / (1974) 2015 / Arrow Films)
Overview: Walerian Borowczyk's first erotic feature, Immoral Tales tells four stories, each delving back further in time, as if to suggest that the same issues recur constantly throughout human civilization, whether involving notorious historical figures like Lucrezia Borgia and Erzsébet Báthory, or present-day teenagers.
Blu ray Verdict: Newly re-mastered in HD and from the original negative, 'Immoral Tales' consists of four stories, each of feminine eroticism through the ages. They work back through time, beginning with a contemporary surrealist story of a 20-year-old man initiating his cousin in a sex act on the beach, timing his ecstasy to the ebb and flow of the waves. In the second story, Charlotte Alexandra stars as a girl whose dedication to God reveals itself as a burning lust when she is unjustly banished to her room for three days.
The Countess Bathory episode – starring Paloma Picasso – is largely the study of liquids on flesh, while the final story follows a visit by Lucrezia Borgia to see her father Pope Alexander VI and brother Cardinal Cesare Borgia, and details the bawdiness that follows. And by "bawdiness," I actually mean a quite shocking ménage ŕ trois that is very in your face viewing!
I mean, I know the story is about the love affair between Lucrezia Borgia and her father, the Pope plus another man, but the sex sequences are disturbing and shocking, even to me! This story is very powerful in its depiction of religious corruption. The second tale is by the far the most erotic. Elsewhere the film is a little slow – but well worth seeing. Actually, 'Immoral Tales' is definitely worth seeing, but certainly for those who are open minded and don't mind the various actions that happen on screen. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
New high definition digital transfers of two versions of the feature, the familiar four-part edition and the original five-part conception including the short film 'The Beast of Gévaudan' (which later became the feature 'The Beast')
Uncompressed Mono 2.0 PCM Audio
Optional English subtitles
Introduction by Borowczyk expert Daniel Bird
Love Reveals Itself, a new interview programme featuring production manager Dominique Duvergé-Ségrétin and cinematographer Noël Véry
Obscure Pleasures: A Portrait of Walerian Borowczyk, a newly-edited archival interview in which the filmmaker discusses painting, cinema and sex
Blow Ups, a visual essay by Daniel Bird about Borowczyk's works on paper
Reversible sleeve featuring Borowczyk's own original poster design
Illustrated booklet containing new writing on the film by by Daniel Bird and an archive piece by Philip Strick