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Dzieje Grzechu

Story of Sin

Poland 1975
produced by
Przedsiebiorstwo Realizacji Filmów, Zespol Filmowy "Tor"
directed by Walerian Borowczyk
starring Grazyna Dlugolecka, Jerzy Zelnik, Olgierd Lukaszewicz, Roman Wilhelmi, Marek Walczewski, Karolina Lubienska, Zdzislaw Mrozewski, Mieczyslaw Voit, Marek Bargielowski, Jolanta Szemberg, Zbigniew Zapasiewicz, Wladyslaw Hancza, Jadwiga Chojnacka, Boguslaw Sochnacki, Janusz Zakrzenski, Zbigniew Koczanowicz, Jan Piechocinski, Henryk Hunko, Tomasz Lengren, Bogdan Wisniewski, Paul Arenkens, Thea Schmidt-Keune, Jadwiga Siennicka, Barbara Marszalek, Maria Robaszkiewicz, Barbara Dembinska, Zofia Gienieczko, Ewa Jez, Maria Kowalik, Stanislaw Tylczynski, Tadeusz Teodorczyk, Irena Burawska, Piotr Augustyniak, Eugeniusz Korczarowski, Józef Lodynski, Zofia Wilczynska, Czeslaw Piaskowski, Dymitr Holówko, Jan Pawel Kruk, Mariusz Leszczynski, Karol Obidniak, Kazimierz Iwinski, Walerian Borowczyk, Zygmunt Samosiuk
screenplay by Walerian Borowczyk, based on the novel by Stefan Zeromski

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Poland, somewhen the late 19th/early 20th century: Young Ewa (Grazyna Dlugolecka) is so pure a woman that she goes to confession even if she has nothing to confess ... that is until she meets Lukasz (Jerzy Zelnik), the new lodger at her parents' (Karolina Lubienska, Zdzislav Morzewski) house. The two soon have an affair but keep it secret because he's technically still married and struggles to get a divorce - but when he just can't get it from the Polish church, he leaves one night and Ewa to forget him ... which she can't. Then she learns he has been wounded in a duel, hurries to his bedside and pretty much gets him back into the land of the living. Ultimately, Lukasz decides to go to Rome to get a divorce from the Vatican and leaves Ewa behind, promising a quick return ... but the return is delayed time and again, and in the meantime, Ewa finds out she's pregnant, has the child and kills it, and falls into the hands of Count Szczerbic (Olgierd Lukaszewicz), the very man who has wounded Lukasz in that duel but now promises to bring her to him ... but that goes awry when she ultimately learns that Lukasz has been divorced and remarried - after he has learned about Ewa traveling with the Count and made all the false assumptions. Ewa leaves the Count to fall into the hands of con-men Antoni (Roman Wilhelmi) and Plaza-Splawski (Marek Walczewski), who blackmail her into setting a death trap for Count Szczerbic, and it's only when she sees him killed that she feels real guilt, bolts, and is ultimately reduced to being a common prostitute. But her story's not over yet, as eventually Antoni and Plaza-Splawski catch up with her again, and they have some more sinister uses for her ...

 

The only feature film that cult director Walerian Borowczyk ever shot in his native Poland, Story of Sin is a historical epic that gets the genre right - interestingly by Borowczyk remaining Borowczyk throughout (apart from very restrained nudity and sex scenes that is): This film is not a mere sequence of events in opulent decors with big feelings superimposed but has a phantasmagorical quality all of its own, is rich on symbolism, doesn't shy away from intimate scenes, and even features some underlying directorial irony. Plus, while the decor's still fittingly opulent, it's atmospheric rather than kitschy. And add to all of this a very solid cast, and you've got yourself a pretty compelling movie.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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