Immoral Tales

Borowczyk's four lewd, weird films don't really cohere without watching the introductory fifth. A Private Collection is just a catalogue of obscene objects, mostly of Borowczyk's own manufacture. In the enclosed space of a bourgeois flat dark secrets are revealed which underline the hypocrisy of the 'moral police'.

All very well as a tirade against censoring sex. But it's the sense of confinement that lingers. Borowczyk's eroticism is strangely sequestered and controlling. He beavers away at these films in the same way as he does his animations and props. It's a private universe in which he has the final say.

Thus we get a domineering youth who commands his cousin to fellate him while he lectures her on the movement of the tides. Then a girl besotted with the omniscient voice of God –  which provides sexual comfort in an environment of abuse. Then Elizabeth Báthory using her noble status to round up and butcher maidens so she can bathe in their blood. And finally Lucrezia Borgia led into the papal palace to be 'worshipped' by her father and brother.

Borowczyk is detail-orientated. He lovingly lingers over the objects that crowd his films, which is why A Private Collection is the apotheosis of his erotica – human flesh removed entirely. He is a set designer with a camera, a builder of entrancing but lifeless tableaus.

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