The setting is the home of a decaying family of French aristocrats. The Marquis del’Espérance (whose name is deliberately ironic) is desperate to marry his son Maturin to heiressLucy Broadhurst. Their marriage is in the will of ancestors, but with many conditions. Maturin’sgreat-uncle is desperate to stop the marriage, believing for some reason that it will kill Maturin.Meanwhile, Lucy has vivid dreams of Romilda de l’Espérance who, two centuries before, had avery erotic encounter with a beast in the woods.
Borowczyk takes the story of Beauty and the Beast to its logical conclusion, and the result isdream-like, surreal, poetic, shocking, and very funny. His style has long been noted for itsfetishization of inanimate objects and its attention to the erotics of the small details, and nowhereis this clearer than in The Beast. The visuals are gorgeously lush, drawing the viewer intoa world of heady eroticism. Among Cult Epics’ erotica releases, this is the jewel in the crown.A major release.
The mono sound is clean enough, but is almost thirty years old, and the age is apparent.Though there is some distortion and buzz now and then, there is no background hiss. The soundgets the job done, in other words, and not much more, but a stereo remix likely wouldn’t havebeen appropriate.
Here is where the presentation shines. The colours are sumptuous, especially the reds, whichborder on the obscene (and I mean that as a compliment). The print is in very fine condition, withno speckles or damage, and what little grain or softness there might be is due to the age of thefilm, and not the transfer. The aspect ratio is anamorphic 1.85:1 (continuing Cult Epics’ welcometrend this way), and you can appreciate just how good this looks by comparing it to the“Complete Version” on disc 3, which is in rough shape indeed.
Three discs, with a Discs 1 and 2 being devoted to two different versions of the film:“Director’s Cut” on 1 and “Complete Version” on 2. The latter is a Dutch print that resurfacedrecently, and features scenes and dialogue that Borowczyk cut for pacing reasons. It should benoted that these two cuts, running 94 and 98 minutes respectively, are still less than the 104minutes European sources cite for the film.
Disc 1 also has the theatrical trailer, and all three discs have still galleries. Disc 2 has abiography of the director (running just over five minutes, and featuring many examples of hisartwork), a introduction to the film and the documentary by Borowczyk, and a 105-minutemaking-of documentary, “Beast Bis.” This last is footage of the making of the film, but is notaccompanied by any narration, or any sound at all, for that matter. Better still is a 52-pagebooklet loaded with pictures and an in-depth essay on Borowczyk’s work. The disc menus arebasic.
This ain’t Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, that’s for damn sure. Smart, gorgeous, and overthe top, this is a masterpiece of its kind.