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Story of Sin Blu-Ray Review

April 19, 2017 | Posted by Joseph Lee
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Story of Sin Blu-Ray Review  

*Grazyna Dlugolecka as Ewa Pobratynska
*Jerzy Zelnik as Lukasz Niepolomski
*Olgierd Łukaszewicz as Count Zygmunt Szczerbic
*Roman Wilhelmi as Antoni Pochron
*Marek Walczewski as Plaza-Splawski
*Karolina Lubienska as Mrs. Pobratynska
*Zdzislaw Mrozewski as Mr. Pobratynski
*Mieczyslaw Voit as Count Cyprian Bodzanta
*Marek Bargielowski as Adolf Horst

Story: A young religious girl falls in love with a man and quickly throws her life away just to have him.

What would you do for love? How far would you go to achieve your goals? There’s a saying that love makes you do crazy and that’s the theme that gets explored in the Polish film Story of Sin from director Walerian Borowczyk. Although it’s only really love from the point of view of Ewa. From the outside, it appears to be nothing more than lust, especially since she appears to lose her mind over the course of the film. If it’s romance, it’s romance in its most extreme form.

Story of Sin is definitely a character piece about the fall of a teenager who never quite gains any maturity but grows up thanks to the harsh world she finds herself in. Within the 130 minutes she does things that most people won’t just for the chance to be with a man she thinks she’s in love with. It’s hard to say what she does without spoiling it, but she goes from a innocent blank slate to a weathered and unlikable, yet tragic character quickly.

However, there are some story issues with Story of Sin that prevent it from being as good as it could have been. The first half is very good. The characters are established and the romance between Lukasz and Ewa, while forced, is well-written. In fact, the pacing of the romance feels intentional, as she’s naive and there’s an obvious sexual tension that she doesn’t seem emotionally equipped to handle. It’s interesting to watch how hard the first love hits her and how quickly it consumes her thoughts.

The problem is that after Lukasz departs the story for the remainder of the film. She tries to hunt him down and get him back, having affairs with other people and committing heinous acts along the way. It hurts the character but makes sense given the story progression. The problem is that once Lukasz is out of the picture, it sort of meanders along until the predictable ending. It plays more like a loosely-connected series of vignettes than a narrative and there’s no real flow to what we see.

Borowczyk had some controversy through his career for his portrayal of eroticism. There’s some of that too, but Story of Sin is relatively tame in what it shows, considering its name. There’s not as much nudity as you’d expect but it’s more about letting the audience put together the steamy stuff in their heads. When it comes to a particularly disturbing act, it’s definitely best not to show it.

Story of Sin may not be the best example of Borowczyk’s work if you’re looking to get into the polish director’s filmography. It’s disjointed, it has some scenery-chewing from its cast (particularly Ewa’s parents) and it runs out of steam halfway through. However, there is some great cinematography and a performance from its lead that carries the film to the end.

Film: 6.0

Arrow Academy releases Story of Sin with a Polish LPCM Mono track. I noticed no real issues in the audio track. It’s not a great track and it’s not too flash, but it gets the job done.

Audio: 7.0

Story of Sin is presented with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.66:1. Like the audio, it looks good, even great in some scenes. It definitely looks great for its age.

Video: 8.0

Special Features

Audio Commentary with Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger: There’s a lot of historical information about the making of the film here, but like other commentaries of this type, it’s very dry. It’s really for aspiring film historians only.

Introduction by Andrzej Klimowski: The poster designer speaks about his work with the director and gives a little bit of info on the film.

The First Sinner: Grazyna Dlugolecka, who played Ewa, speaks for half an hour about her work on the film and her issues with the director.

The Music Box: Film critic David Thompson talks about Borowczyk using classical music for his films, including Mendelssohn for this one.

Short Films and Miscellaneous: Just a block of various segments and short films. There are three shorts using animation and photography (“Once Upon A Time”, “Dom” and “The School”) with optional commentary by art historian Szymon Bojko (“Once Upon A Time”), composer Wlodzimierz Kotonski (“Dom”) and Daniel Bird (all three). “Miscellaneous” is a visual essay about Borowczyk work on newsreels and documentaries with Lenica. “Street Art” is a short written by Borowczyk about posters. “Tools of the Trade” has Julius Zamecznik talking about the equipment Borowczyk and Lenica used to make “Once Upon a Time.” Finally, “Poster Girl” talks with “Dom” star and Teresa Byszewska.

Finally, there is also a trailer.

If you are a fan of Borowczyk’s work, then you will love the special features of this set. If you’re not, then chances are you won’t be picking this up anyway. If you do happen to get it, then the features are still decent enough and worth at least one viewing.

Special Features: 7.5

The final score: review Good
The 411
Story of Sin hasn't held up well in the 42 years since it was released, as its plodding story and occasionally hammy acting tend to hurt it. There's still enough there of value for those interested. Arrow Academy's set delivers on those who are interested in Borowczyk's work, although anyone but hardcore film buffs will likely not be interested.

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Story of Sin, Joseph Lee