Christmas. We’re a week into December and we’re already sick of it. Here at Impact Film & TV, we’re continuing with our list. It’s day eight and we’re taking a trip to a mythical land straight out of Disney. If Disney made porn…
Walerian Borowczyk’s soft-core masterpiece La Bête is a film of contradictions. Set in an imposing mansion in rural France, the costumes and stilted dialogue are old fashioned whilst the period is contemporary. The upper lips are stiff, but still the eroticism gushes forth.
In an atmosphere of mystery and fear, Mathurin, the dim-witted heir, is getting married, an arrangement which comes with a peculiar set of unexplained conditions.
His bride-to-be is completely unfazed, instead reacting with girlish delight and curiosity at the copulation of horses, drawings depicting bestiality and the story of Romilda de l’Esperance, who was rumoured to have been killed by a beast residing in the woods around the mansion.
Populated by a cast of increasingly farcical and somewhat oversexed characters, the film culminates in an extensive and surprisingly graphic dream sequence featuring a joyous romp between Romilda and the mythical beast. Lasting several minutes and set to tinkling harpsichord music, the viewer is treated to endless quantities of ejaculate, before the beast is finally fucked to death by the hitherto fearful Romilda.
Despite the understandable controversy this film has generated, its main feat is in Borowczyk’s remarkable balancing act. In creating a film which is crass and slapstick, yet laden with highbrow symbolism, he’s produced nothing less than a work of art – an incisive exploration of the fine line between man and beast.