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3.8 out of 5 stars24
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 23 October 2001
First saw this when it used to show at the Prince Charles cinema off Leicester Square, London, in 1979 and it blew my mind!
Now, after all these years I finally get to see what it was that affected me so and it still sends shivers up my back and has me checking the door or the windows to see if anyone's watching me watching it.
You feel pervy watching it and slightly uncomfortable but luckily you can convince yourself that you are watching a cinematic genius at work, so that's okay. Not sure my wife would agree, though!
Horses erections and the Beast itself getting its rocks off are unexpected and still quite shocking, even 20+ years on [you find yourself thinking 'Oh, Walerian, you didn't really have to go that far and show the whole thing!'], but I thoroughly recommend this to anyone who can see beyond the so-called smut and see this film for what it is - a gem among the mundane.
Rory Baxter
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on 3 August 2007
Walerian Borowczyk's explicit and insane la Bête (The Beast) is a directly adult reflection of the sexual undertones in many fairy tales. There are segments in la Bête that are unflinching enough to be deemed pornographic but they are done in such a silly and shocking way we cannot assume that Borowcyzk's goals are to titillate. I mean come on, the film opens with a close-up of a female horse's private parts and a male horse jumps right into the mix soon thereafter. There is also a tremendous amount of (human) nudity in la Bête and while gratuitous, it does seem to be appropriate within the film, even though it isn't necessarily erotic. I don't think it is possible to categorize this movie and that in and of itself is a strength for me. From beginning to end, I had no idea what to expect.

The film takes place in the Esperance house that is awaiting a wedding between the family's son and Lucy. The family is full of chaos and everyone seems to have something to hide. Lucy becomes fascinated with the family's notorious ancestor Romilda, who apparently had a sexual encounter that Lucy reads about with a very well endowed beast in the woods nearby. Lucy imagines the experience Romilda went through graphically, and she almost seems to fantasize about the ordeal. We see the sequence almost in its entirety. It consists of Romilda (Sirpa Lane) running around gradually losing her clothes with some harpsichord music playing and eventually she succumbs to the beast's advances and gets it on with his giant prosthetic phallus. It is graphic enough that it would be nearly impossible to say it isn't shocking, but it is funny enough that the audience will laugh uncomfortably until it concludes. You certainly won't forget this sequence and there are several more memorable parts before and after.

Just because someone may care I won't reveal how la Bête ends. Walerian Borowcyzk actually does seem to have a way with making movies. His other films are for the most part straight-forward erotica but he has the ability to make beautiful shots and here he even puts together an interesting, albeit strictly comedic, commentary on human and animal sexual impulse. I don't want to mislead anyone here; the priorities of this movie are by no means it's potentially significant insights. I don't know what Borowcyzk's intentions are but la Bête is certainly one of a kind.

The Cult Epics three disc release is worth owning if you enjoy rare and unique films. Especially ones that push the limit like this one. We have the dubbed version and the director's cut in here, as well as a great stills gallery and a hilarious trailer that shows almost the entire sequence with the beast and Sirpa Lane, but with a black bar over the graphic footage...as if we don't know what could be happening. On the third disc we have over one hundred minutes of silent behind the scenes footage and several other interesting features. The book that comes with this edition is probably the best aspect of the Cult Epics release. It has stills of some of the more noteworthy content and explains the film in far better detail than I have. This is recommended for collectors and definitely for those of us not easily offended.
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on 8 March 2015
Controversial and banned almost everywhere on its first release, it was in the early 1990’s that ‘La Bête’ was finally released in the UK as an uncut version, albeit only at a few art-house cinemas. I still recall watching it amongst a clearly uncomfortable audience, who “didn't know what to do with their hands”, to paraphrase my companion at the cinema. While it was shocking even for me to see a film that was so explicit in its closing sequences at an ordinary theatre, I didn't find it pornographic. Instead, it came across as an erotic but thought-provoking, hilarious and unflinching satire that dealt with religion and sexuality in an admirably feminist stance.

Feminist in that it was possibly the first, mainstream movie to explore female sexual fantasies in a relatively non-exploitative manner and to portray a female orgasm that looked genuine. The story also is told from a female perspective, which would have been refreshing in the 70’s for an erotic tale.

Today, ‘La Bête’ stands as a unique and groundbreaking film from a maverick director, who never managed to surpass its appeal since, although he continued to explore similar themes in his later work. This is a movie that only the open-minded can enjoy and appreciate, for it brutally challenges the societal perceptions of female sexuality.

BrownPolar
April 2008
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on 24 October 2014
Amazon really need to start having their reviews specific to the format. Many of the reviews here are for old VHS copies and this Blu ray is a completely different...Beast (sorry). Two discs and a booklet all made with great attention to detail and love (yes!) for their subject. The extras here include a "Making of" piece which features a (silent) 16 mm film of Boro directing scenes. It is absolutely fascinating and you do feel you are watching something rare and special. If you have any interest in this director it will completely captivate you. The Beast itself is exactly as it should be with all its bits intact. It may not be his best film but this package is a must have for any lover of European art/porn cinema or the genius of Borowczyk.
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on 13 March 2015
An iconic 1970s film which makes an unforgettable impact. Brilliantly directed in stunning locations and with a haunting soundtrack. Not a horror film but a fantastical, dark, erotic masterpiece. Great reproduction in this DVD set.
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on 13 March 2011
'The Beast' is a film of 2 halves, the first a pretty dull set up of an aristocratic wedding, the second is an odd mix of dream sequences about The Beast who looks like a man in a fancy dress rat costume with a telescope between its thighs.
It's odd, sure, but is it entertaining? The 'erotic' scenes includes some horse on horse action and The Beast raping an 18th century aristocratic ancestor of the main family, if you imagine Benny Hill going hardcore, then you get the picture.
As far as being legitimate art house cinema goes, it's no more legitimate than the likes of Tinto Brass or Jess Franco.
Why was it banned for 25 years? The scenes containing The Beast are very OTT and leave nothing to the imagination, it's all prosthetics of course but I wouldn't want him cropping up chasing me through the woods in one of my saucy dreams.
All in all you have to wonder what type of film he was aiming for, erotic? comedy? horror? or an erotic comedy horror? To be honest I think he failed on all 3 counts.
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on 31 December 2014
I purchased this DVD because I remembered viewing it on Tv "FILM4 EXTREME Channel a few years ago.i was quite shocked at that time because the content was totally unexpected.Now that I have purchased the DVD i have come to the conclusion that there is more to this film than I had realised on my first view.Well worth the purchase and needs to be viewed a few times to understand the reason for the extreme content.
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on 23 September 2003
The Beast is a landmark study of animalism in all its guises, forms and extremities, from the sexuality of beasts to the bestiality of humans, literal or not... The sensibility of the film is decidedly '70s, yet the sheer strength of its psychological insight and the eerie quality of its cinematography has remained unscathed by time. In terms of explicitness, the film's ability to shock has been, of course, severely compromised by the explosion of pornography that marked the '80s (the sex-scenes as they stand would be utterly ridiculous in a less reflective film), but The Beast never aimed at shock for shock's sake. Categorising the Beast under "erotic" cinema - with the derogatory insinuations of the term - is unjust. The Beast is a great European masterpiece. Borowczyk is leagues ahead of Franco or Brass even at their most illuminated...
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on 23 November 2014
Got to be 5 stars from me. First saw this in a members cinema club in the early '80s. Within about 10 minutes of the film starting there was a steady stream of people exiting. For myself - never seen anything like it. Mind-blowing stuff. A weird mix of melodrama, black comedy and porn. Unbelievable attention to detail and shock scene piled upon shock scene until one can take no more. If you aren't broadminded and have a low shock threshold don't bother with it. I always find this film cheers me up when I'm in a bad mood. Despite the gargantuan amount of filth it makes me smile.
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on 18 July 2008
A thread about this film on imdb is titled "This film is effing Nuts" and that sums it up really!

I read that the "Beast" sequence in the movie was filmed first and was originally to be one of the stories in another movie, "Immoral Tales", but Borowczyk thought he could build a feature film around it. I don't think he succeeded.

It has a bit of everything, French farce, anti-clericalism, equine sex scenes along with familial murder. However I found the whole thing a bit forced.
For example we are expected to believe that the (very attractive) heiress continues to be interested in the French nobleman's son, even though he has shocking table manners and can't string two words together! His father had written the son's letters to her that had persuaded her to come to Europe but she should have realised something was up when she met him in person.

The slightly mysoginistic theme of the film is continued as we are expected to believe that the 18th century woman being "ravished" by the beast begins to enjoy being penetrated by his huge member, and suffers no physical damage. I know it's meant to be part of a dream but still!

The rest of the film looks as if it was filmed at a different time to the "Beast" scenes as they don't blend together well at all. The mad Benny Hill style music over the rape scenes make it seem even more ridiculous.

The director certainly succeeds in shocking the audience, which one suspects was the main aim of the film, but I think he succeeds at liitle else.

Having said all that the film is worth watching at least once because you're unlikely to see anything quite like it. Not for the faint hearted though!
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