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The Many Sins of Walerian Borowczyk

MUBI Special

From his early, influential animated shorts and his brief moment of international acclaim for his features in the late ’60s and early ’70s, to his evolution into pornography-tinged art (or is it art-tinged pornography?) films, Polish director Walerian Borowczyk has always provoked audiences and pushed boundaries. Our survey covers the entire range of his career, beginning with an early collaboration with Chris Marker and ending with an exploration of the sexual mores of the ’80s.

Love Rites

Walerian Borowczyk France, 1987

expired 154 days ago

Our Walerian Borowczyk retrospective climaxes (apologies) with his final film, alas. More sexually restrained—relatively—than the dizzyingly pink heights of Boro’s late 60s and 70s cinema, this adaptation of André Pieyre de Mandiargues’s novel still plunges into contemporary sexual mores with glee.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne

Walerian Borowczyk West Germany, 1981

expired 162 days ago

Robert Louis Stevenson’s sinister modern fairy tale of respectable surfaces and beastly underbellies is the perfect playground for the moral inquiry and surreal excess Walerian Borowczyk seeks. Riffing on the source with frenzied abandon, it also stars the great Udo Kier as the two-faced Doctor!

Behind Convent Walls

Walerian Borowczyk Italy, 1978

expired 167 days ago

Off to Italy for Walerian Borowczyk, who takes inspiration from Stendhal for a classic setting of sexual repression, oppression, and uninhibited release: a nunnery! Co-starring Borowczyk’s wife Ligia Branice (La Jetée) and shot in glorious soft-focus glowing light by Dario Argento’s cinematographer.

Venus on the Half-Shell

Walerian Borowczyk France, 1975

expired 174 days ago

A nice break—short and illustrated—in our Walerian Borowczyk retrospective. An affectionate sketch of the voluptuous erotic (of course!), animist pastels by Bona de Mandiargues, wife of the surrealist writer who narrates the erotica collage A Private Collection. Bona meets Boro!

The Beast

Walerian Borowczyk France, 1975

expired 181 days ago

The beginning of the end for Walerian Borowczyk? Or the birth of a new phase, far beyond Buñuel, pushing the level of nudity, perversity and directness of non-pornographic cinema to new levels? Perhaps: But you’ve been warned! This black (and “pink”!) comic farce delights as much as it offends.

Immoral Tales

Walerian Borowczyk France, 1973

expired 189 days ago

Borowczyk’s first sin? By some critical accounts, this film is when Boro went too far with his soft-core, erotic provocations, leaving behind the “art” in favor of exploitation. That didn’t stop it being a huge hit in France (surprise!), but with the result of dangerous damage to Boro’s reputation.

A Private Collection

Walerian Borowczyk France, 1973

expired 194 days ago

Like any good animator, Borowczyk is a collector par excellence. It’s a quality that often playfully reveals itself in his films, and literally so in this gleeful, perverse hodgepodge of the erotic that in fact comments on the nature of sex. Commentary by surrealist André Pieyre de Mandiargues!

Mr. and Mrs. Kabal's Theatre

Walerian Borowczyk France, 1967

expired 202 days ago

After working in shorts for a decade, Borowczyk finally leapt to his feature film debut while retaining all the originality of his bizarre and inventive animation (with touches of color-swathed live action!). The ’60s featured many unconventional portraits of marriage but none so strange as this!

The Game of Angels

Walerian Borowczyk France, 1964

expired 210 days ago

Borowczyk is most famous for his approach of filming provocative material with “inappropriate” style. While that accusation would later be made against sex in his films, this also can be seen here in his animation of camp experience. Terry Gilliam named it one of the best animated films of all time!

The Astronauts

Walerian Borowczyk, Chris Marker France, 1959

expired 219 days ago

We’re excited to launch our 10-film series on controversial expat Polish director Walerian Borowczyk. Beginning his directing career in animation—inspiring Jan Švankmajer, Terry Gilliam, and the Quays—his ingenious first film was made in France using friend Chris Marker’s name to help it get made.

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