I revisited Sebastiano Montresor’s directorial debut, “L’eredità di Caino” [Eng. Title: The Heritage of Cain”] with some more background information about the work. The title alludes to a collection of works by Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, and the film is an interpretation of one of his novellas “Venus in Furs” (Ger. Venus im Pelz).
I haven’t read ‘Venus in Furs’ – so my only knowledge of the story in whatever form is through a Jesus Franco film by the same name.
But Montresor’s interpretation is a different animal altogether, ambitious in its scope and experimental in the way it discards traditional story-telling methods, and deconstructs the characters into exaggerated – even distorted versions of themselves in order to portray the ‘supersensualism’ of Lui the protagonist, as he debases himself in front of the ‘Venus’ he so covets.
Here’s what I gathered from the film. As part of an arrangement, Lui degrades himself in order to win the affections of Wanda (Venus, Mistress), in the same manner he becomes a willing slave of prostitute Anna – his goal – shall we say is ‘sexual bliss’, symbolised by a naked woman whose face is encased in a gas mask. We see Lui realising the truth about himself and the object of his fetish as the film progresses.
The film has a claustrophobic feel about it, shot entirely within a chequered black and white space. Some of the visual elements are reminiscent of a Peter Greenaway, but while I am unsure of some of the symbolism – like Wanda in a bathtub filled with milk and some rather unsavoury flies – they contain striking imagery nevertheless. There are also a couple of unpleasant scenes where Lui (uninhibitedly played by Filippo Trini) performs some degrading acts upon himself, looked on by a plainly unmoved Wanda, and the ever-present masked woman. One could reasonably assume the film is highly stylised, with Montresor pulling out all stops to make his scenes as he puts it, ‘hyper-realistic’ – even if it means resorting to theatrics.
The film is however beautifully composed, with some interesting editing and sound. This sure is a unique film, with some bold performances by actors depicting some shockingly perverse acts. I’ve made a couple of compilations for this post (with a degree of trepidation nevertheless), featuring Lucia Mascino who plays Wanda, and Anna Mascino who plays prostitute Anna. More about the film can be found in the official website.