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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rough melodramatic realities
74uk Story of a sin (Dzieje grzechu) by Walerian Borowczyk (1975, 130')

Some films are review minefields, but one should occasionally accept even challenges with big odds, especially if it is for some totally reception problem ridden and hence multiply misrepresented work of collective national genius like Dzieje grzechu: The only Poland-produced film by Polish...
Published on 16 May 2012 by Dr René Codoni

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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Contains one of the most ecstatic (but brief) sex scenes I have ever seen
Normally I really hate it when a piece of great 'classical' music is used on a film soundtrack, and for a whole lot of reasons. Herzog and John Boorman have ruined most of their films for this reason. Think of 'Nosferatu' and 'Excalibur'. If you don't know the music you are lucky and it might not be so bad but even then, if you are good with music, you should notice there...
Published on 14 Nov 2008 by Basilides


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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Contains one of the most ecstatic (but brief) sex scenes I have ever seen, 14 Nov 2008
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This review is from: The Story Of Sin [DVD] (DVD)
Normally I really hate it when a piece of great 'classical' music is used on a film soundtrack, and for a whole lot of reasons. Herzog and John Boorman have ruined most of their films for this reason. Think of 'Nosferatu' and 'Excalibur'. If you don't know the music you are lucky and it might not be so bad but even then, if you are good with music, you should notice there is something wrong.
This film, however, manages to pull it off triumphantly. No other piece of specially written music could have worked so well as Mendelsohn's Violin Concerto does. The result is one of the most unforgettable, beautiful, lyrical sex scenes I have ever seen. It explodes onto the screen in sound and images that are as near to ecstatic as seems possible. It even provides a valuable insight into the concerto. The violin is well enough recorded for the time , so full and strong, that it is possible to internalise it in a surprising way. And it is perhaps surprising in itself that the violin can so well represent sexual ecstasy - but high frequency sound is something this scene shares in common with the justly famous airoplane sex scene in 'Emmanuelle 1'.
When I say 'beautiful' and 'lyrical' don't imagine that it is not essentially and strongly erotic because that of course is the whole point. There are plenty of Hollywood sex scenes trying to be lyrical and beautiful but they miss the mark and end up with something that is just kitsch and sexually dishonest. And that sort of thing is so common because it is so easy to do. A scene like this needs to be disturbing and surprising in some way for it to be of real value. See my reviews of comparable scenes in other films such as 'The Postman Always Rings Twice'.
And again, lyrical it may be but smooth and polished this scene is not. It is filmed with unstable hand held camera (this is an early 70's film before steadycam) and the effect of lyricism is produced by the beauty of the girl's body itself and its movement, and of course the intense lyricism of the violin. The camerawork itself has all the fumbling, jerky quality that passionate first-time sex has so often in real life.

The story is based on a classic Polish realist novel about a girl from a respectable family fallen on hard times who falls in love with a lodger and has a baby by him and without him being aware of what has happened as a result of having moved to another city. She has the baby suddenly and alone and disposes of it straight away. This is the 'sin' which sends her on a downward spiral into the criminal underworld in a typical late 19thc manner. The film has a convincing realist look throughout despite or perhaps because of various references to contemporary schools of painting. As always Boro likes to observe the texture and surfaces of things like such painters.
But what is in the end important about the film is the element of transcendance that is occasionally present through the music I have mentioned or through the beauty of some of the visual images and the girl herself.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Very poor film which i couldn, 5 July 2014
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This review is from: The Story Of Sin [DVD] (DVD)
Very poor film which i couldn,t follow most of the time with an annoying commentary most of the time
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rough melodramatic realities, 16 May 2012
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This review is from: The Story Of Sin [DVD] (DVD)
74uk Story of a sin (Dzieje grzechu) by Walerian Borowczyk (1975, 130')

Some films are review minefields, but one should occasionally accept even challenges with big odds, especially if it is for some totally reception problem ridden and hence multiply misrepresented work of collective national genius like Dzieje grzechu: The only Poland-produced film by Polish director Walerian Borowczyk, after the novel by Polish novelist Stefan Zeromski (1864-1925), which had first appeared as a newspaper serial in 1908, then as movies in 1911 and 1933. The all Polish film crew is headed, in the role of Ewa, by the stupendous young Polish actress Grazyna Dlugolecka (*1951)''''. Underlying music is the Violin concerto in e minor op 64 by (oops, German) Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, performed by Konstanty Andrzej Kulka and the Polish Orkiestra Filharmonii Narodowej, conducted by Jerzy Katlewicz'.''

Before killing the child she had from a married man, a young woman is forced to become the mistress of a criminal who has her work as a prostitute. She will die in the arms of he first lover. Ewa, a religious young virgin, burns from love for Lucas, who is in the process of divorce. Via the elements of melodramatic style around 1900, this becomes a stylized and tearful story of a young woman becoming a child murderess out of love. Daughter of minor land owners, Ewa leaves her familiy and travels throughout Europe in pursuit of her love, Lucas. Her violent passion lets her fall ever deeper: she kills two people, becomes a prostitute out of her own will, and loses her own life in trying to shield her lover from a bullet.

Story of a sin is the only full length film Borowczyk (1923-2006), famous graphic artist, sculptor and film maker, ever turned in his native Poland. Despite its sensationalist subject matter, the relative restraint of Story of a Sin may surprise, even disappoint. There are some beautiful images, including a Warsaw park shot like an impressionist painting, and Ewa's naked body covered in red rose petals, as well as Borowczyk's near-trademark fixation with and on objects (shoes, canes, phonographs etc). Next to Dlugolecka's Ewa are some memorable performances from her co-stars (notably Roman Wilhelmi and Marek Walczewski as the larcenous debauchers Pochron and Plaza-Splawski). Being full of time-consuming melodramatic incidents and crazy coincidences, the film runs into considerable length, delivering, however, in the process, a detailed insight into Polish sentimentality.

To a considerable extent, Borowczyk's own reputation - his other films - is at the origin of many misunderstandings of his Story of a sin, which in a way is a conventional story of a woman's life destroyed by love, not unlike Madame Bovary or Kenji Mizoguchi's The Life of Oharu (1952). Borowczyk had moved to Paris at the beginning of the sixties, where he made a number of innovative short films, some animated, some a mixture of animation with live action. By the 1970s, he had established himself as one of Europe's leading arthouse directors, with films like Goto, Island of Love (1968) and Immoral Tales (1973), earning him the reputation as a master of artful eroticism. So in 1975, when he shot his classic moral tale, Borowczyk's career was at its peak. Unfortunately for him (although fortunately for filmgoers), in the same year, he also released the delicately shocking class satire La Bête, certainly a far more interesting film, but one whose explicit perversity would doom the director to a future of soft core sex movies (like 1987's `Emmanuelle V' (sic)).

PS Apologies - I have deliberately left all diacritic marks from Polish letters as the various computer transcription systems (not least amazon's) tend to render them incompletely and often wrongly.

uk-16 May 2012
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Glad I watched it but a little disappointed, 20 Mar 2010
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Agnieszka (Ireland/Poland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Story Of Sin [DVD] (DVD)
I read the book first and liked it very much. As usual, I wanted to compare with the film adaptation. I think the events and characters were selected very well, it's never possible to keep all the content in a movie. However, as I am a period drama freak, I could not accept the inacurracies of the costumes used. The only thing I would say in their defence in this matter - Poland generaly wore poor clothes at that time so can't really be surprised. It was the drawback of all movies from tha era ...
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