16 August, 2009


The real deal...

I recently revisited the original Spanish version of CECILIA, which Eurocine expanded and reedited. Lensed on the same Sintra, Portugal locations as A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD (1971), I noted that the location of the title character's (Muriel Montossey aka Vicky Adams) nude swim is the same as the nude swim which Christina Von Blanc took in VIRGIN... nine years earlier. This time I noticed that the camera angles are also the same! Some would criticize this as laziness or unimaginative repetition. For me it creates a welcome sense of obsessive (mine) deja vu.

There's an excellent review [in Spanish] by Alex on his essential Jess Franco blog, EL FRANCONOMICON of the original 1980 Spanish version of what later became CECILIA when Eurocine took over and had actor-director Olivier Mathot film about twenty minutes of inserts shot in France. Mathot aka Cole Polly/Claude Plaut, is a better actor (a Franco icon in EXORCISM/THE SADIST OF NOTRE DAME and a number of his 70s French films) than director. The inserts are rather bland, silly and add nothing, but disrupt the mood of hermetic eroticism of the original. As Jess Franco insists on the CECILIA DVD interview featurette, "There is no Cecilia!" The Mathot footage features the actor at a party with some upscale hedonists who have nothing to do with the main plot and some tourist views of Emmanuelle/Cecilia in Paris.

CECILIA runs about 105m and is out on an excellent BU DVD with a French language track as well as in English. Aberraciones is in Spanish only on the 85m print I have [thanks to ECC], shorter than the 98m print reviewed by Alex. But it's far superior in terms of a mood of exotic, humid fantasy. It all takes place in the lush tropical gardens near Sintra, Portugal, and, as pointed out above, the location itself acts as Franco's commentary and allows him to create his personal environment for his take on the EMMANUELLE franchise.

The Eurocine-Mathot shot inserts are glossy sleaze, Franco's film is pulp poetry. There's a difference. You don't need to understand Spanish to understand that the film's focus is on female degradation/humiliation/rape fantasies within the structure of an open, "romantic" marriage. At the end, Franco seems to lean toward heterosexual monogamy as a nesting preference, after bursts of dangerous sexual experimentation.

Tropical plants and wild flowers abound from the opening credit sequence to the final image of a floral arrangement, a Buddha like ceramic and a tray of long stemmed glasses. Pull focus. Fin.

In between are long, languorous strolls by the characters and Soler's very mobile camera, slowly tracking past the tropical vegetation decorating the fantasy villa, a castle of erotic hallucinations.

If you've only seen CECILIA it's worth giving Aberraciones sexuales de una mujer casada a look. It's shorter, more to-the-point, plays best in Spanish and is 100% Jess Franco....

Thanks to Alex for the image.

Thanks to Eric Cotenas for helping me see ABERACCIONES SEXUALES DE UNA MUJER CASADA.

(C) Robert Monell, 2009

1 comment:

vikas pereira said...

Dear Bob

Do you know who is the young actor last victim of Irina (Lina Romay) in Jess Franco's MIL SEXOS TIENE LA NOCHE.?
He's the boy she mets in the park and after she kills him making love.
I whish to know it.
Thank you