France 1971, “Blanche” (original title), 92 min, colour, French dir Walerian Borowczyk sc Walerian Borowczyk, based on the play by Juliusz Słowacki cam Guy Durban ed Walerian Borowczyk, Charles Bretoneiche mus Christian Boissonnade, Annie Challan, Agnès Faucheux, Maurice-Pierre Gourrier cast Ligia Branice, Michel Simon, Georges Wilson, Jacques Perrin, Lawrence Trimble prod Philippe d’Argila, Dominique Duvergé pc Télépresse Films, Abel & Charton, sales Friends of Walerian Borowczyk: Dominique Duvergé-Ségrétin aw Berlin IFF 1972: Grand Prix
Arguably Borowczyk’s most personal film, Blanche transposes Juliusz Słowacki’s romantic drama Mazepa from eighteenth century Poland to thirteenth century France. Borowczyk’s wife, Ligia, gives a heart rending performances as Blanche, the young, beautiful wife to aging, almost senile baron, played by the legendary Swiss actor Michel Simon. When an amorous king pays a visit, not only does he fall under Blanche’s spell, but also his page, the infamous philander Monsieur Bartolomeo… Stunningly designed and immaculately photographed, Borowczyk transforms what could easily have been a melodramatic period drama into something altogether more bizarre and disturbing. Blanche also features a groundbreaking soundtrack featuring ancient musical arrangements drawn from the Carmina Burana. Selected as one of the BFI’s 360 Classic Feature Films, Blanche left an indelible impression on a generation of visionary filmmakers including Terry Gilliam and Neil Jordan.