Friday, December 9, 2011

The Sins Of Madame Bovary

Released by: One 7 Movies
Released on: 3/8/2011
Director: Hans Schott-Schobinger
Cast: Edwige Fenech, Gerhard Riedmann, Franco Ressel, Peter Carsten
Year: 1969
Purchase From Amazon

The Movie:

An Italian/German co-production from 1969, Hans Schott-Schobinger’s The Sins Of Madame Bovery isn’t the most exciting film ever made but it does have some historical importance if only for the fact that it’s the film where Sergio Martino (here serving as the director’s assistant) met the lovely and talented Edwige Fenech who would go on to star in quite a few of his films in the seventies.

The film more or less follows the novel of the same name, written by French author Gustave Flaubert, in which a female aristocrat named Emma Bovary (Fenech), a stunningly beautiful woman who is understandably upset about the lack of attention afforded her by her husband, Charles (Gerhard Riedmann). While Emma’s life is a cushy one – she’s got all the money she could want and lives in a beautiful home – she wants more than just the finest possessions and accommodations. Her marriage to Charles is more or less a loveless affair that offers her no real satisfaction and so she takes it upon herself to get what she can out of life before her looks and youthful vigor start to fade.

With Charles rarely home and instead out tending to the needs to ailing children in the area, Emma basically screws her way through the cast of men who wind up at her door for various assorted reasons. As her morality becomes considerably looser, those around her start to also feel the effects of her titular sins and she and they all soon realize that actions do indeed carry consequence.

Melodramatic to a fault and rather slow in spots, The Sins Of Madame Bovery nevertheless succeeds almost entirely on two key qualities – the star power of its sumptuous female lead and the ace cinematography which comes courtesy of Klaus von Rautenfeld who was quite prolific throughout the sixties and whose experience shows in almost every frame. If the plot is a bit predictable and more than a little slow, the film is nothing short of fantastic to look at with the camera capturing all manner of detail, both appropriate and not so appropriate (Fenech’s make up is decidedly not Victorian era at all and would look more at home in a mod go-go club).

Edwige’s lead performance is as strong as the material will allow for. She’s quite convincing as the woman who is just starting to come to terms with the fact that her life is going nowhere and that her years are slowly starting to accumulate. While still quite youthful here, she’s got that right sort of presence that makes you say, hmmm, yeah she’s a smoking hot fox right now but yeah, she’s right, she’s not going to be young forever. You don’t necessarily always sympathize with her immorality nor does the movie really ask you to but you can at least understand her plight and why she would be compelled to cheat on her inattentive husband.

The supporting cast doesn’t get much to do here, this really is all Edwige’s show from start to finish and the camera absolutely loves her, but that’s not to say that the rest of the actors in the picture are wasted or disposable. Riedmann’s performance is expectedly distant and lets us understand further her motivation while a bit part from Franco Ressel helps solidify just where exactly Emma’s character is headed and why. If it isn’t the most thought provoking film you’re ever likely to see it does offer a perky Ms. Fenech the chance to strut in her birthday suit and vamp it up – for many, that’s reason enough alone to seek this one out.

Video/Audio/Extras:

One 7 Movies presents The Sins Of Madame Bovary in a good 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that appears to be the proper aspect ratio for the picture. Aside from some color fading here and there the picture is generally in quite good shape showing fairly strong detail for an older picture. There are no problems with compression artifacts or edge enhancement and if a bit of print damage shows up here and there, so be it. There’s really not much to complain about here in terms of picture quality – it’s not going to knock you down and drool but it does the trick.

The only audio option provided is an Italian language Dolby Digital Mono mix with optional subtitles provided in English only. There’s a bit of background hiss here and there if you listen for it but aside from that, this is a clean track with properly balanced levels and no obvious problems to report.

Extras are slim, limited to a still gallery and a static menu.

The Final Word:

If The Sins Of Madame Bovary is slow, well, at least it offers some fleeting nudity courtesy of the impossibly beautiful Ms. Fenech and some truly impressive production design. Even when the film is moving at a snail’s pace it always looks amazing and as a showcase for Edwige to prove that she was both talented and beautiful, it’s an effective enough film. One 7 Movies’ DVD release doesn’t have much in the way of extra features but it looks and sounds quite good – the cult of Edwige should be pleased with their efforts!

No comments: