The Film (4/5)
Ewa is a young woman who lives with her parents in a boarding house in Warsaw. One day her parents take in a boarder Lukasz Niepolomski, who is visiting Warsaw trying to get a divorce from his estranged wife. Ewa falls in love with Lukasz, and they begin to have an affair. This is promptly interrupted when he gets involved in a duel over her, and then most leave to go to Rome to continue trying to get his divorce. She ended up pregnant with his child, and kicked out of her home. She was then forced to work at a sweatshop while waiting for him, and miscarried. The man who he shot then gets involved and helps her get to Rome, unfortunately, he has already left to find her. This is only the beginning of Ewa’s story of obsessive love. She seemingly is always one step behind Lukasz, and will do anything to be with him. However, this leads her down some dark and strange places from gambling dens in France to a life of prostitution, and even a pseudo-utopian commune.
Story of Sin is the 7th feature film directed by Walerian Borowczyk, and oddly the only one directed by Borowczyk in his native Poland. The film is adapted from Stefan Zeromski's book, and had previously adapted to the screen twice. The film might not have been have been a Borowczyk original, but it seems he truly took to the material, because visually and thematically this feels very much in line with his earlier and later works.
The film deals in the subject of repression of Ewa physically and sexually, and the visuals help to convey that. From the opening moments in the church and her parents home one begins to feel that this environment is restrictive to the people who live in it. The film has plenty of sex and nudity, keeping it in the same zone as Borowczyk's other works, but it's quite a bit more restrained than in his earlier works. Since the film is about repression this seems more in keeping with the tone of the film. The film had what appears to be a larger budget than what Borowczyk had access to previously and it really shows on screen with more broad visuals than he had represented previously.
Arrow's Story of Sin restoring is stunning. The Blu-ray is presented 1:66:1 in a 1080p transfer that is well detailed and natural looking. Colors are stable, damage is restrained and minimal, and blacks are nice and deep.
Audio is presented in an LPCM mono track in Polish. The track is quite solid with dialogue and score coming through nicely. I did not detect any issues.
Arrow has provided an excellent slate of extra feature for their Story of Sin Blu-ray, including a slate of Borowczyk's short films that have been unreleased in the U.S., an interview with the lead actress in the film, one with a Polish illustrator, and a composer who discusses Borowczyk's work. We also get a visual essay on the film by Daniel Bird. The centerpiece of the release is the positively in depth and informative commentary track by Diabolique Magazine's Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan. We also get a trailer and liner notes.
I was always a tiny bit (and tiny bit is an understatement) jealous of the U.K. Arrow Academy releases, and now that they are coming over with such fine material as Borowczyk's Story of Sin I couldn't be more pleased. The Blu-ray looks and sounds amazing, and is loaded up with many fine extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.