Eugenie… The Story Of Her Journey Into Perversion
Released by: Blue Underground
Released on: December 15th, 2015.
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Christopher Lee, Maria Rohm, Jack Taylor, Marie Liljedahl, Paul Muller
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Jess Franco’s adaptation of the Marquis de Sade’s Philosophy In The Boudoir was 1970’s Eugenie… The Story Of Her Journey Into Perversion, a film that cast the gorgeous Marie Liljedahl in the title role, a beautiful but chaste young woman named Eugenie. Her father, Mistival (Paul Muller), clearly has a thing for a woman named Marianne Saint-Ange (Maria Rohm) but she resists his advances until they make a deal – Marianne will give herself to Mistival should he allow his daughter to accompany her to her family’s estate on a remote tropical island for a few days. He agrees, and gets what he wants from the woman, and from there the two young women head to the mansion with Marianne’s half-brother, Mirvel (Jack Taylor), along for the ride.
Once they arrive at the home, it becomes quite clear quite quickly that Marianne and Mirvel have less than the purest of intentions for Eugenie. From here, they indoctrinate her into their world of kink and shape young Eugenie into a plaything of sorts before it’s time for Dolmance (Christopher Lee) to make his appearance…
Also known as De Sade ’70 and written by producer Harry Alan Towers, this (at the time) modern day take on de Sade’s work pretty impressive. While obviously the location dressing and costumes are of the film’s period, the entirely decadent atmosphere of de Sade’s writing really shines through as we watch the more dominant factors at play essentially ‘break’ this teenaged girl (Liljedahl was definitely of age here, but she looks younger than she was when the film was made). As such, you need to be prepared for some rather taboo subject material when voyaging down a cinematic rabbit hole such as this, but that’s par for the course with most of Franco’s films made during and after this period.
Featuring plenty of exotic locations and fancy costumes to dress up the orgiastic proceedings in a veneer of class, the film moves at a good pace and features some pretty impressive set pieces, one of the most memorable being the scene in which Lee himself reads from de Sade’s writings while a gaggle of participants indulge their carnal cravings all about him. It’s odd seeing Lee in a film like this but he does a great job in the part, using his fairly regel screen presence well and really turning in a memorable performance. Jack Taylor and the beautiful Maria Rohm are also very good here, their on-screen relationship clearly alluding that their relations extend past simply sharing a parent while Paul Muller as Eugenie’s lecherous father is also quite good. Really though, as good as the main cast members are it’s Marie Liljedahl who is the most memorable here. She’s gorgeous to be sure but you feel for her as she’s put through a sexual ringer of sorts. The physical side of her performance is completely convincing and she really makes quite an impression here. It’s also amusing to see Franco himself pop up in the movie as one of the men who appears in a scene best described as ritualistic.
In terms of the film’s production values, Franco and Towers are firing on all cylinders here. The cinematography is top notch (aside from the occasional focus issue) and the use of color is frequently stunning. The locations secured for the shoot suit the story perfectly and the wardrobe choices are both elegant and, in certain cases, quite alluring. Add to that a truly excellent score from composer Bruno Nicolai and it’s easy to see why this film is as well regarded by both Franco fans and Euro-cult aficionados alike.
Blue Underground presents Eugenie on Blu-ray in its proper 2.35.1 widescreen aspect ratio in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer that renders the previous DVD release obsolete by comparison. The first thing you’re likely to notice here is the colors reproduction which, at times, is flat out stunning. Every hue is presented brightly and boldly yet it never seems oversaturated or too pumped up for its own good. Black levels are also very strong here, while skin tones also look lifelike and natural. This being a Franco film and all, it won’t surprise those familiar with his work to note that there are occasional soft and out of focus shots, but that’s just part of the man’s style. Blue Underground’s transfer is a very good one and the image is pretty much pristine.
The English language DTS-HD Mono track, which comes with optional subtitles available in English SDH, French and Spanish, also sounds quite good. The jazzy score has nice depth and range to it while the dialogue is clean, clear, nicely balanced and easy to follow. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion and this just sounds more natural and lifelike than the thinner sounding DVD release.
Carried over from that DVD release is the Perversion Stories featurette that runs seventeen minutes in length. Here we get some interesting interviews with Jess Franco, producer Harry Alan Towers and cast members Marie Liljedahl and Christopher Lee, though the latter two are featured here only briefly. Franco is his typical ‘tell it like it is’ self as he shares his thoughts on the film and the cast, Towers quickly offers some thoughts on how Liljedahl and Lee wound up in the film while Lee himself notes his surprise at being top billed in a film like this. Liljedahl is quite charming here as she talks about her appreciation for this particular film and how much she enjoyed working with some of her fellow cast members.
New to this release is an eighteen minute piece called Stephen Thrower On Eugenie, which is what it sounds like – an interview with the man who wrote Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco about his thoughts on the film, how it compares to some of Franco’s other films, the effectiveness of certain scenes and performances and quite a bit more. The disc also includes a theatrical trailer for the feature, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release we also get a DVD version (a downscaled version of the new Blu-ray disc, not a port of the older DVD release from years back) with identical features.
There’s more to it than just that, however. Along with the discs inside the Blu-ray case is a slick full color booklet containing an essay on the film by Thrower and a third disc which is a CD including the complete Bruno Nicolai soundtrack for the film – a very nice touch that should make a lot of Franco fans very happy. On top of that, if you’re not keen on the newly commissioned painted cover art, the sleeve is reversible and features an alternate image on the flip side.
The Final Word:
Eugenie… The Story Of Her Journey Into Perversion is widely, and rightfully, regarded as one of Jess Franco’s most polished pictures and it’s hard to deny just what a great looking film this is. On top of that the cast all deliver fine work and the story is both alluring and intriguing. It still might not be enough to convince the naysayers but anyone with an interest in Franco should consider this one essential, particularly when offered up in such a beautiful package as this three disc set from Blue Underground.
Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!
harry alan towers,
marquis de sade,
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