Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Beast (Walerian Borowczyk, 1975)

The flaps resting on either side of its gaping maw pulsate with a quivering brand of anticipation. Awaiting the inevitable incursion of the shaft-like delivery system bobbing and weaving on the outskirts of its much sought after cranny, it prepares to receive a bountiful dollop of its sticky cargo. After it's finished discharging its seminal consignment all over the walls and floor of its spacious housing, it licks the fortuitous spillage off its besmirched hindquarters. Providing much needed protein (humping is hard work), and, at the same time, thoroughly cleaning the affected area, this impromptu tongue bath proves once and for all that there is in fact post-coital charity in the animal kingdom. I think I better mention—you know, before I go any further—that I'm talking about two horses copulating. In the misogynistic milieu that is human erotica, you never see a man clean up the mess he has made with his mouth or any other part of his body (he just sits there with this self-satisfied smirk on his face as his disease scurries in-between the creases of his victim's justifiably wrinkled brow), but things are different in the equine universe. Even though I didn't really want to watch horses "get it on," I'm glad I was able to learn something new about procreation. And it's not like I'm going out of my way to talk about the mating habits of horses, The Beast (La Bête) gives the viewer little choice in the matter. While it may sound like the kind of scene you might find languishing in exploitative trash like, Emanuelle in America (the movie where a woman famously gives a horse a handjob for no apparent reason), those familiar with the work of Walerian Borowczyk (Immoral Tales) know that he's not the type of director to go galloping haphazardly into the emasculating realm of horse porn. If two horses are seen fucking in the film's opening scene, there's bound to be a logical explanation. What I plan on doing for next couple of paragraphs is to try to understand what the film was attempting to say about human sexually, while, in the same breath, making, what I'm sure will be, a number of astute observations.

When the great Bonnie Pointer sings about there being a beast inside her in "The Beast In Me," she's speaking metaphorically. However, in this film, based on the novel "Lokis" by Prosper Mérimée, the beasts are all too real. Manifesting itself in two separate spheres of existence: one lives in modern day France, and takes shape in the form of a hirsute horse breeder with low self-esteem named Mathurin de l'Esperance (Pierre Benedetti), and the other as a monster with an enormous charred toadstool masquerading as a penis protruding from the centre of its beastly groin during the corset days of Marie Antoinette. Both, it turns out, are about to invade the personal space of Lucy Broadhurst (Lisbeth Hummel), a woman who loves nature, amateur photography, art, and the firm support that only a lively pair of pantyhose can provide. Dreaming of one, engaged to be married to the other, Lucy has no idea what she's gotten her cute little butt into when her Rolls-Royce limousine eventually arrives at the de l'Esperance estate.

Opening with the shot of a bearded man with a cast on his left hand, the aforementioned Mathurin de l'Esperance is tending to his horses. The film doesn't spare us from the sight of a black stallion struggling to mount a black mare, and why should it? There's something inherently funny about watching monkeys, dogs, and turtles trying to fuck, but there's nothing funny about horses when they "get busy." Whereas most animals thrust in a comical fashion, a horse approaches thrusting from a scholarly point-of-view. Gripping the mare's mane with its teeth, the stallion listens for the distinct smacking sound of its beckoning horse vagina, and readies his appropriately massive horse penis. As I've already stated, I found this sequence to be quite fascinating. It not only changed the way I view animal sexuality, it managed to calm my nerves with its Cries and Whispers-style method of depicting a world where horse cum is a valued commodity.

Blackmail and martial tomfoolery is in the air at the de l'Esperance residence, as Pierre de l'Esperance (Guy Tréjan), father of Mathurin, lays the groundwork for his son to marry Lucy Broadhurst, an aristocrat with a rose petal receptive blonde vagina. Scheming with his reluctant brother-in-law Duc Rammendelo De Balo (Marcel Dalio), Pierre invites a priest (Roland Armontel), along with two pansexual choir boys, Théodore (Anna Baldaccini) and Modeste (Thierry Bourdon), to perform a baptism (a ritual that involves getting your head dampened by a man wearing a white baptismal robe) on his adult son. The idea is to purify Mathurin before his bride shows up, and, of course, appease the church; who apparently frown upon marriages that involve people who are unbaptized.

Spiritual cleanliness is one thing, but what about Mathurin's unkempt appearance? This problem is solved with a quick makeover. Removing his hay-ridden clothing and giving him a shave, Pierre tries his best to clean up his slovenly son. Unfortunately, Pierre was unable to remove the unwieldy cast on his left hand (it hasn't healed yet) or to curb his feelings of low self-worth (he thinks he's ugly and unworthy of a woman like Lucy). But as far as makeovers go, I've seen worse. Judging by the frantic nature in which Pierre went about preparing his son, there must be a lot of money at stake. And it's obvious there is [a lot of money at stake] when we see the type of car Lucy and her Aunt Virginia (Elisabeth Kaza) are riding in as they mindlessly drive around the French countryside (their chauffeur has never been to France before) in search of the de l'Esperance estate.

As she's waiting for the chauffeur to remove an impasse in the road, Lucy decides take this opportunity to frolic in the surrounding forest. Grabbing her leopard print fur coat, Lucy proceeds to snap pictures with her camera. While she was lining up shots of things in natural world that peaked her interest, I couldn't help but notice that Lisbeth Hummel had the exact same eyes as me. Staring into her into her eyes was a strange phenomenon for me, as I rarely ever see my eyes represented in movies. Anyway, my identical eye twin displays her playful side as she runs through the dank undergrowth. Taking yet another wrong turn, they somehow end up at the de l'Esperance horse stables, where Lucy takes a quick picture of a horse cock just as it was about to enter a dark passageway. The stuffy Aunt Virginia chides Lucy for snapping this pic, but nothing can curtail the innate curiosity of the grey-eyed beauty. Just for the record: I loved the way Lucy would say, "Aunt Virginia," as every time she said it I would feel a slight twinge in the area where my pants usually dwell.

Finally arriving at their palatial destination, Lucy and Aunt Virginia are greeted by Duc Rammendelo De Balo, and invited into the sitting room (in a moment of accidental cuteness, the de l'Esperance's cat tries to rub its scent on the brim of Virginia's hat). With Pierre still "bathing his son," it's up to De Balo, an elderly gentlemen who gets around with the help of a wheelchair, to entertain their guests. This is when we learn a little more about the de l'Esperance family, particularly, the legend of Romilda de l'Esperance (Sirpa Lane), a woman whose claw mark-covered corset hangs proudly in a glass display case (the family's pride and joy).

Meanwhile, up in one of the bedrooms, Pierre's daughter, Clarisse de l'Esperance (Pascale Rivault), is busy fooling around with Ifany (Hassane Fall), the butler. And when I say, "fooling around," I mean they were trying to fornicate. Since Pierre is stressing out over the appearance of his socially awkward son (you would be "socially awkward," too, if you had to watch horses fuck all day), he's depending on Ifany to carry out menial tasks. Which means, every time Ifany was about to penetrate Clarisse's red badge of cuntly delights, Pierre would call for him.

Now, you would think Ifany would be the one getting his testicles all in a twist over these constant interruptions. Well, you would be wrong. Frustrated over the fact that she's being perpetually denied cock, Clarisse decides instead to grind her genitals against the wooden bed frame in an erotic manner. I know what your thinking, and you're right, she could get a splinter. But painful pussy splinters be damned, Clarisse wants satisfaction, and she wants it now. I'll admit, I lost track after while of how many times Ifany and Clarisse were interrupted. Nevertheless, I do know that Clarisse grinds against her bed frame twice; once while some children (a girl and a boy) were hiding in a closet. Children? Yeah, I have no idea whose children they were. I think they were brought over as props–you know, in order to make the de l'Esperance's seem like a normal family, and what's more normal than children?

What's not normal is the sheer amount of bestiality porn Lucy keeps coming across as she pokes around the house. Of course, it's not lying around in plain sight. But given Lucy's curious nature, she is literally finding it everywhere. Behind paintings, inside books that are clearly not marked "donkey with angel wings fucks muscular man in the ass," the place is rife with the stuff. Oddly turned on by the taboo bounty, Lucy grabs the photos she took in the forest (including the one she snapped at the horse stable), lines them up on her bed, lifts up her pleated skirt, pulls down her black panties and taupe pantyhose simultaneously, and proceeds to jab at her moist undercarriage with the fingers on her right hand.

To no one's surprise, the sight of her husband-to-be screaming, "I chew like a squirrel," over and over again at the dinner table has caused Lucy to wonder if this was all a mistake; I mean, talk about a terrible first impression. Doing what most women would do in this situation, Lucy puts on a silky, gossamer robe, admire the way it clings to her body, and goes to bed. Suddenly, we're transported to a lush field of grass containing one sheep and one lamb. The reason the air over the field is filled with harpsichord music is because Romilda de l'Esperance, the woman whose portrait and corset are proudly displayed in the de l'Esperance sitting room, is playing one in a nearby building. Wearing a blonde wig and a blue gown (one with splashes of white here and there), Romilda runs into to woods when she discovers that the smaller of the two lambs has wandered off. It would seem, to quote to popular nursery rhyme, that "Little Bo Peep has lost of her sheep"–well, at least one of them, anyway.

I won't lie. This is what I've been waiting for. The reason I endured the horse sex, the bed frame gratification, and the implied pedophilia (the priest was a little too chummy with those choir boys), was to see the gorgeous Sirpa Lane employ her first-rate gasp face in a wooded setting. And does she deliver the gasping goods. Realizing that she is not alone (the sound of something growling is a dead giveaway), Romilda flees when she sees this hairy creature lurking behind a tree. Clawing at her body, Romilda struggles to remain clothed. The beast is tearing away her frilly garments (the branches of the trees along the way are littered with her clothing), as it chases her through the woods. Luckily, it takes awhile for the beast to remove everything (her ensemble contains many layers). Eventually reduced to nothing but a corset, one blue shoe, a pair of white socks, and her wig, Romilda decides to climb a tree.

Nursing a scrape on her left thigh (which is a marvel of Finnish engineering), Romilda looses her balance and finds herself dangling from one of the tree's branches. The sight of her legs flailing gets the beast excited (the loosened drawstring of her corset starts to slap against her anus with every panicked kick). With the beast's face lapping up the nonexistent contents of her rarefied clit, and her sock-covered feet slamming against his fully erect charred toadstool penis (her other shoe falls off as a result of this untoward cock kicking), Romilda has been inadvertently placed in a situation that is beyond her control. As she tires, her foot-banging slowly morphs into a foot-job, which causes Romilda's sock-covered feet to resemble the horse vagina we saw during the film's opening scene the longer she dangles.

After it ejects a veritable deluge of gooey liquid all over her sock-covered feet (the sock on her right foot is dirtier than the sock on her left foot since it's been shoeless for a longer period of time), Romilda finally falls the ground (loosing her wig in the process). As the beast is rubbing her wig against his charred toadstool, Romilda makes a run for it. You don't have to admire the athleticism the ethereal Sirpa Lane displays as she runs scantily clad through the woods, but it wouldn't hurt if you did. Sadly, or, happily, depending on your outlook on life, the beast catches up with her and causes her to twitch with tongue-exposing ecstasy as he proceeds to plow into her with a mere pittance of the contents connected to his scorched crotch.

A hauntingly undignified, yet, at the same time, strangely elegant, examination of sexuality, Walerian Borowczyk's farcical fairy tale will leave you fully enriched. Sure, you might not be able to look at horses, bed frames, men with beards, corsets, socks, toadstools (charred or otherwise), or rose petals the same way ever again. But then again, looking at stuff is so overrated. The perfect film for deviants who want to feel as if they're watching a work of art–as supposed to an insipid pile of worthless trash–The Beast is pompous erotica at its finest. Oh, and remember kids, bestiality etchings mostly come out at night...mostly.


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6 comments:

  1. So once again a post of yours has me wandering over to my DVD closet...today I found my unwatched copy of the XXX version of THE BEAST IN SPACE!

    I'm sure you're wondering what the Hell else I have stashed in there that my spectacular optical orbits have yet to turn their intense but somehow gentle gaze upon.

    You'd think this closet would be a mess but I assure you that my Virgo sensibilities have made sure that all 12 shelves are alphabetized and perfectly organized.

    It's all just a matter of time...I have so many films to get to but so little time in my day. It's a shame you're in Canadia and not here to properly administer Dr. Brodsky's Ludovico technique on me to get my ass in gear.

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  2. Your DVD closet sounds a little like Chief Wiggum's forbidden closet of mystery.

    The XXX version, eh? That's the one to own.

    Funny you should mention the Ludovico technique and The Beast in Space, as the film's score reminded me of A Clockwork Orange.

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  3. Your Prosper Mérimée link is broken. :(

    I always liked Mérimée, but I'm not familiar with Lokis.

    The Jeopardy! TOC was about as exciting as the Watson showdown.

    About Patton: My pops is a history prof, and my husband is getting a degree in history. But that one stumped us. (I thought it was too easy to be Patton!)

    We finally saw a 2011 film in theaters: Moneyball. If you like baseball and statistics, that's the film for you!

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  4. The link seems to be working now (took away the grammatical flourishes).

    Great, now I feel bad. ;) But I feel a little better knowing you thought it was too easy, which happens a lot during the TOC. Anyway, I blame George C. Scott, who looks nothing like General Patton.

    Moneyball?!? I am, as you would say, speechless. :D I'd rather watch The Sinful Dwarf on a loop.

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  5. I was reading this review and rotting my soul with that clip earlier today. Only I should have been preparing for my feminist critical theory independent study. My professor noticed I wasn't articulating myself well.

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  6. You're priorities are out of whack. ;)

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