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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Borowczyk's best film?
**THIS REVIEW IS BY FILM CRITIC FABRIZO FOGLIATO WHICH I HAVE TRANSLATED FROM THE ITALIAN. WARNING CONTAINS SPOILERS!!**

Blanche (1971) is the third feature film directed by Walerian Borowczyk after Theatre de Monsieur et Madame Kabal (The theatre of Mr. and Mrs. Kabal, 1967) and Goto, l'île d 'amour (Goto, Island of Love, 1968). Just prior to this feature, the...
Published 4 months ago by Mr. N. R. Birkhead

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars White load of rubbish!
Dull and non nonsensical. Everything takes place in a castle, seems a bit like a (very bad) play. Survived about 45 minutes before turning it off. Deserves to be left in the vault of long forgotten films.
Published 10 days ago by davewoll


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Borowczyk's best film?, 14 Aug 2014
This review is from: Blanche (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
**THIS REVIEW IS BY FILM CRITIC FABRIZO FOGLIATO WHICH I HAVE TRANSLATED FROM THE ITALIAN. WARNING CONTAINS SPOILERS!!**

Blanche (1971) is the third feature film directed by Walerian Borowczyk after Theatre de Monsieur et Madame Kabal (The theatre of Mr. and Mrs. Kabal, 1967) and Goto, l'île d 'amour (Goto, Island of Love, 1968). Just prior to this feature, the Borowczyk directs The Phonographe (1969) a ten minute short with animated drawings, in which he retrieves and reanimates the re-enactment of a past linked to present culture. Inanimate objects are charged with as much emotional energy and sensitivity as the living: the phonograph becomes the elected paradigm character according to Borowczyk. The same unique prerogative or modus operandi is also at work in Blanche, Borowczyk's first color film. The narrative is represented by a continuous and persistent exaltation of detail, which aims to transform the inanimate object into a kind of fetish necessary to animate and realise the subtle mise en scene in which actors operate : the Borowczyk objective here is to give life to what is "dead", by representing such things as a sort of emotional extension of characters that with the continuation of the film's story, these dead things accumulate more living elements, so to speak.

Blanche was inspired by Mazepa Julius Slowacki's literary work and is typical in its Polish romanticism, in which the representation of an era, the depiction of a "poetic" past and the suggestions of art and nature go hand in hand with the description of aspects of the past as authentic as fantastic: the world of Mazepa is full of dreamlike and spiritual aspects, combined with the representation of a violent and bloody tragedy which harks back to heroic chivalry. Walerian Borowczyk, following the text of Slowacki, transfers the story to France, c. 1200, AD which provides the film's essential historical breath, being congenial to Borowczyk as a lyrical and tragic elegy. It is also inspired by the staging of the paintings of Bruegel and Giotto, and incorporating the work of Carl Orff's musical score.

In Blanche, we witness Borowczyk employing a distinctive synergistic process, in which art, sound, movement, image and dramatic reconstruction - meticulous attention to detail and sets - find their realisation through the representation of an assembly of neuroticly ordered obsessions. These hard and fast details translate events into a dreamlike synthesis of rare beauty breathless action. Blanche is built on a documentary-like precision of tens of details arranged obsessively as on the stage of a theatre, from which arises the spiritual corruption and fundamental ambivalence that permeates the film (both in terms of reality and spirituality). It then becomes difficult to distinguish between the boundary of fiction and reality; the film begins to unfold as a waking dream, or indeed a nightmare. Moreover, Blanche is Borowczyk's initial step towards working as an author of the "dynamics of gaze" school of thought in the auteur's realm. In fact, what is striking is the directorial voyeurism that becomes one of the most confusing and predominant elements to the viewer within the film. This intense voyeurism is key to understanding the film's texture, which is almost a tapestry of organic ingredients.

Blanche is a deeply erotic film, or perhaps the film in which Borowczyk is best able to depict the destructive force of his beloved eroticism. However, this idea is handled in a very subtle manner. This is achieved almost by sleight of hand: through the representation of the caste system's paradox whereby the female body (Blanche) is meticulously documented and studied obsessively, cravenly; Blanche is permanently wrapped in a tight robe which both accentuates and mutes the physical form of the heroine. The film opens with an emblematic image of a naked Blanche, interrupting the opening credits, appearing wet while emerging from a bath: a furtive representation, almost guilty in its gaze, however, acting as a harbinger for subsequent events. The tragedy is already contained in this short shot the woman: her body, her implicit eroticism and the strength of her femininity are the point of origin from which the film's long chain tragedies flow. The next scene, one of the party, is divided by its cold recording of details: the misbehaving dwarf gets kicked; a dog that sneaks between the legs of the people; a monkey placed on the shoulder of the king; the inexhaustible move the characters, the sweet song of the troubadour. The frenzy of the interior contrasts nicely with the fixity of the exterior in which the image of a castle-fortress, steep as a cliff face and soaring into the sky; it fits in a natural context of Renaissance beauty where nature takes on mild textural tones and poetic photography, a pastel-colored Guy Durban.

This telegraphing process of symbolic details amplifies the alternating representation of relational dynamics by contrasting the stillness and silence of the external environment with the chaos of the festival that acts as a preamble to the tragedy. This is the only time the film is playful and joyful, as if relief from filming Blanche's wrap-around robe which hides her white flesh while she moves between men dressed in heavy leather, chainmail and aprons. Blanche in all this is an innocent victim, guilty only of having a body able to seduce men: she apparently does nothing to covet their desire, however the condition of her repression, the suggestiveness of certain statements tend to represent her as "executioner", although she is never compromised by adultery. Her long robe that covers even her head is not enough to remove her from the sense of death is present in the film, as well as the future disasters being underscored by the persistent presence of flowers that, when tragedy is nearing its completion become dry and withered.

Blanche's "purity" is not only nominal, but despite this her manoeuvres as a lone woman in the context of young and old men leads inevitably to be the defining element around which is unleashed a 'guerilla war' for the conquest of her body. The dynamics of this sly and subtle seductiveness (even implicit ones) are described by Borowczyk through the gradual removal of accessories: the scene becomes progressively more sparse as the characters move as if on a stage, initiating a long series of cruelty. The spontaneous rebellion and repression of Blanche's flesh is combined with the hypocrisy and bigotry of the court and intersects with the depiction of the female face and Christ Pantocrator mosaics with the constant references to religious symbols arranged on the walls of the castle.

Suddenly, after the intervention of the king in defense of the page Bartholomew, the film's tone becomes bleak and dark, completely removing all elements of light and begins its decent into the locked, claustrophobic and suffocating atmosphere of the castle. Borowczyk achieves this sense of imprisonment through the alternation of filmic close-ups and medium shots, and a sequential reference to the seed image present in one of the first frames of the film: a white dove locked in a cage. A narrow cage, which is shown several times throughout the duration of the film, a metaphor for the labyrinthine space (and alluding to Escher creeks, tunnels, passages ...) environments of the manor from which emerges a complex and disturbing depiction of the community that lives in it. Only at the end, when the film breaks its spatial geometry and apparent hallucination, when the narrative structure is fragmented and multiplies, the disturbing tendencies of erotic human instincts, Blanche becomes an abstract work in which the absolutely brilliant sequence showing Bartholomew tied to a horse and dragged through the heath, becomes both the pinnacle of the film as well as defining the point of view of the director in terms of depicting the inherent barbarity and base instincts of man. (As if the barbaric act somehow simultaneously illustrates and explodes the built up sexual tension of the whole film.) This sweeping sequence of Bartholomew and the horse in its breathtaking alternating action results in the representation of an "impossible" savage primitivism dominated by the chaos of the staging.

The final sequences of the coffins is immersed in the absence of colour, and Borowczyk here enhances the ambiguity of his reality as well as emphasising the peculiarity of the classic Borowczyk metaphor: the dove locked in a cage is the animal representation of the woman protagonist of the film, who unconsciously leads the destruction of the family and inevitably, herself. That the poison which kills Blanche is taken from a missal clergyman is a clear sign of 'critical intent' of Borowczyk, who does not conceal his wish to highlight the hypocrisy and dangers of a religious caste system that is totally devoid of spirituality and sincerity. It is no accident that it is seven monks who accompany the king whilst hiding weapons inside the ecclesiastical robes. In summary, Blanche reveals the aesthetics of space as a place in which hidden passions consume the protagonists, in which the gaze of the director (and the viewer) is forced towards a sensual and erotic voyeurism. In Blanche props and paraphernalia are silent and latent, although it is they - the inanimate animate - which represent the true charges of eroticism. That man, of any age, is powerfully attracted by the carnality of the female form, which, although hidden, contains within itself the contagion of perversion and the seed of death. Prima facie, Blanche can reveal elements of misogyny; in reality, within the film depicts a form of a warning about the dangers inherent in eroticism: Blanche, then, is the first step of Borowczyk's filmography that intends to uncover the roots of a "natural "Eros and pronounce the inextricable link it has with Thanatos, the daemon personification of death!

Fabrizio Fogliato
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant medieval drama, 18 Nov 2010
This review is from: Blanche [VHS] (VHS Tape)
A very entertaining tragic love story set in medieval France . Beautiful, virtuous wife married to an aged husband is persued by three men , a king , his page and her son in law! There are sword fights , people being walled up and all kinds of intriques.Great shame it is not on DVD.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars White load of rubbish!, 7 Dec 2014
This review is from: Blanche (DVD)
Dull and non nonsensical. Everything takes place in a castle, seems a bit like a (very bad) play. Survived about 45 minutes before turning it off. Deserves to be left in the vault of long forgotten films.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Insomniacs cure!, 5 Dec 2014
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Mr. C. Wortley-ponter (Aylesbury,Bucks.,UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blanche (DVD)
Avoid this drivel at all costs! Complete and utter garbage masquerading as art.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull and boring, 28 Oct 2014
This review is from: Blanche (DVD)
Was thoroughly bored watching this slow plodding film. I thought the acting was poor and the whole film was drawn out. Wouldn't recommend it.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 26 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Blanche (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
Good, very theatrical, but fine.
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0 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 13 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Blanche (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
Yet to watch it.
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Blanche (Blu-ray + DVD)
Blanche (Blu-ray + DVD) by Walerian Borowczyk (Blu-ray - 2014)
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