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Walerian Borowczyk

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

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Overview

Walerian Borowczyk (September 2, 1923 – February 3, 2006) was a Polish film director. He directed 40 films between 1946 and 1988 and worked mostly in France.

Born in Kwilcz, he studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, then devoted himself to painting and lithography [1], including the creation of posters for the cinema [2], which earned him a national prize in 1953. In 1959, he settled in Paris.

After making animated films, Borowczyk moved into live-action features with Goto, l'île d'amour (Goto, Isle of Love) (1968) and Blanche (1971), both tales of illicit love thwarted by jealous husbands, and both starring his own wife, Ligia Branice. One of his most appreciated films of this period, Dzieje grzechu (A Story of Sin) (1975), which was nominated for Palme d'or, is an adaptation of a Polish literary classic by Stefan Żeromski. Contes immoraux (Immoral Tales) (1974) and his later work, including Interno di un convento (Behind Convent Walls) (1977) (inspired by Promenades dans Rome of Stendhal) and Cérémonie d'amour (Rites of Love) (1988) have been controversial, lauded by some for their unique surrealist vision and derided by others as contentless pornography. Especially, La bête (The Beast, 1975) (based on the novel Lokis by Prosper Mérimée and originally conceived in 1972 as a film on its own, but then in 1974 as the fifth story in Contes immoraux) was seen by many as a decline in the director's career after Dzieje grzechu, except in France, where it was hailed by prominent critics such as Ado Kyrou. His 1980 film Lulu was based on the eponymous character created by Frank Wedekind.

In 1981, he made Docteur Jekyll et les femmes (Blood of Dr Jekyll), a version of the Jekyll and Hyde story starring Udo Kier and Patrick Magee and depicting Jekyll's transformation as a violent rebellion against the Victorian morality. In his 1988 book Nightmare Movies, Kim Newman described the film as "dark, misanthropic and interestingly offensive". He made a brief return to animation with his 1984 short film Scherzo infernal. In 1987, he directed Emmanuelle 5, an installment of the Emmanuelle series, that was also released in a hardcore video-only version. He was unhappy with the project due to a dispute concerning the casting of lead actress Monique Gabrielle. In 1988 and 1990, he directed four episodes for the series Série rose: Les Chefs d’œuvre de la littérature érotique on M6.

Many of Borowczyk's films use historical settings, including Ars Amandi: l'arte di amare (The Art of Love) (1983), set in the time of Ovid (and featuring the poet as a character); Blanche, set during the Middle Ages; and three of the four episodes in Contes immoraux, set respectively in the nineteenth century, the sixteenth century, and the Borgia papacy.

Borowczyk was the author of two books; Anatomia diabła (Anatomy of Devil) (1992) and Moje polskie lata (My Polish Years) (2002).

He died of heart failure in Paris in 2006. He was 82 years old.

References

  1. ^ The New York Times
  2. ^ Gilliam, Terry (April 27, 2001). "Terry Gilliam Picks the Ten Best Animated Films of All Time". The Guardian. [1]

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