[ REVIEW ]

INDY MOVIE REVIEW
 
Behind Convent Walls (1978)
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Director:Walerian Borowczyk Producer:Giuseppe Vezzani Story by:Stendhal (novel) Screenplay by:Walerian Borowczyk  

Music by:Sergio Montori Cinematography:Luciano Tovoli   Edited by:Walerian Borowczyk  Running time:95 min 

Country:Italy Language:Italian Genre:Drama, Romance Subtitle:English  Starring: Ligia Branice ... Sister Clara,
Howard Ross ... Rodrigo Landriani
, Marina Pierro ... Sister Veronica, Gabriella Giacobbe ... Abbess Flavia Orsini,
Rodolfo Dal Pra ... Bishop
, Loredana Martinez ... Sister Martina, Mario Maranzana ... Father Confessor,

Alex Partexano ... Silva (as Alessandro Partexano)

 
 
    A zealous, handsome priest, who is the confessor for a convent full of women, encourages the equally zealous abbess of one such institution to enforce the same strict rules on these unfortunate women that are applied to others. In doing so, they uncover a snake pit of sexual couplings, both lesbian and heterosexual, as well as many tools for masturbation. At the same time, a particularly disturbed inmate manages to poison herself and many of the other novitiates in yet another scandal which is covered up by church authorities.

     Inspired by a passage in Stendhal’s Promenades dans Rome, Borowczyk’s first Italian production concerns the antics of a convent full of sexually repressed nuns. Deceptively frivolous, Borowczyk’s film is nevertheless a serious exploration of the relationship between flesh and spirit. Likened to Boccaccio by Alberto Moravia, Behind Convent Walls features striking handheld cinematography by Luciano Tovoli and the final performance of Borowczyk’s wife, Ligia Branice. Note: contains explicit sexual content.


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An artistic peak among all "Convent Erotica" movies.
8/10
Author: Armando Mariani from Mexico
31 May 2005
I''ve watched quite a number of so called "Nunsploitation" or "Convent Erotica" movies and at least eight of Walerian Borowczyk''s erotic escapades and I think that "Interno di un Convento" aka "Behind the Convent Walls", truly deserves the term "Art-House Movie". In my opinion, it has to be considered one of the few artistic peaks, among the several dozens stinkers (mainly purely exploitative), which crowded European screens, during the ''70 and ''80s. The director shows us here more then a glimpse of his cinematic genius, crafting a little movie on a "shoestring budged", full of mesmerizing images and sounds. The cinematography (the movie seems almost entirely shot on a hand-held camera and in natural light) is simply gorgeous. Streams of bright sunlight flow towards the viewers from the background windows of beautiful Renaissance settings, creating dream-like visuals, in which the bodies of the female interpreters, quite often involved in steamy erotic games, appear almost floating weightlessly at mid air. By the way, Marina Pierro as "Sister Veronica" and Ligia Branice as "Sister Clara", are unbelievably beautiful even in (or half out) their rough monastic robes. The Mediaeval harpsichord, violin and organ scores, which underline the most climatic sequences, provide the proper musical frame for this dark tale of forbidden love affairs, sacrilegious erotic rituals, psychological and physical abuse and murder. The movie has a few dull moments where it seems that it is going nowhere, but then it gets back on track with a few pleasant surprises. There are two sequences which, personally, I consider among the most outstanding of the whole picture. The first begins with a flock of nuns busy cleaning up and decorating the chapel using straws of red carnations. Suddenly one of them, practicing on her violin, strikes a few musical notes of what seems to be a very lively tune. This attracts the attention of all the other nuns, who start looking at her in great expectation...Encouraged by her sisters, she strikes another series of notes, which immediately originates giggling of approval from the audience... Another nun joins right in playing the organ and they both start an improvised duet playing a very captivating "pagan" tune. Like stricken by a sudden electric discharge, the nuns immediately forget all about their work duties. The whole Sisterhood improvises a party and start dancing and jumping around happy and thoughtlessly. The camera jumps right in the middle of this improvised party, cavorting around with the nuns, by means of circular dancing movements at the rhythm of the music. It''s an amazing apotheosis of flying black veils, black gowns, white undergarment and red carnations... You can almost feel the sense of relieve of the poor nuns, who get carried away in a temporary escape from the frustration of their austere and mortifying living routine. The other sequence is the one everybody who has seen the movie, obviously talks about... It''s probably the only really explicit and graphic scene of the whole movie, but I think that the way it has been shot and directed, makes this sequence beautiful and not disturbing. Borowczyk unveils here the deepest roots of his erotic fantasies. He shows us a nun deeply (and desperately) in love with Christ. Spiritual love is not sufficient for her; her repressed senses demand to be also physically possessed by him. She reaches her objective, with the help of a home-made wooden dildo, with a Christ-like face painted on one end and a mirror...and a big deal of imagination. WOW! Definitely eroticism at his peak and definitely... not a movie for everyone! I give this one an (enthusiastic) 8 out of 10.

Convent erotica from Walerian Borowczyk

9/10
Author: Falconeer from Deutschland
13 January 2007
A stern Mother Superior tries to maintain order in the convent, and to protect the nuns from evil temptation in this beautifully wrought ''nunsploitation'' film from cult director Walerian Borowczyk. While the plot here is standard fare, it is the breathtaking imagery that takes center stage, and makes this film so special. One of the most ''fluid'' films I have ever seen, the characters and the images are constantly moving, an effect helped to some degree by the hand-held camera technique. White is the predominant color here, as sunlight streams through the windows of the convent, illuminating the naturally beautiful nuns as they go about their days, gathering roses, preparing food, masturbating and copulating (!). All this while the mother superior races around, spying and searching the bed chambers of the nuns, forever looking for evidence of sin. Religious imagery abounds, in the form of bleeding stigmata and a dildo with the face of Jesus etched onto it. Light and comical at times, but turning considerably darker towards the films climax. The cinematographer also worked on Argento''s ''Suspiria'', which explains this films gorgeous look. It would certainly be a shame and do great injustice to Borowczyk''s beautiful film to place it in the same category as the ''nusploit'' dreck of Joe D''Amato and some of the others, as ''Interno di un Convento'' is on another level entirely. This is my favorite film from Borowczyk next to his "La Marge" with Sylvia Kristel and Joe Dallesandro. And of the ''nunsploit genre, ''Behind Convent Walls'' is one of the absolute finest examples, along with "The Nuns of Verona", "Sacrilege", and the dazzling Japanese "Convent of the Holy Beast". I have yet to see Jess Franco''s "Love Letters of A Portuguese Nun", but I heard this is quite good as well. For Behind Convent Walls'' there is a great new DVD featuring a beautiful widescreen transfer, and including extra information on Borowczyk''s work.








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