Synopsis: Hong Kong, 1920: To please her decadent lover, a beautiful young British woman submits to a life of sexual slavery in an Asian brothel. Subjected to the depraved fetishes of both men and women, she discovers a myriad of carnal desires in a world of forbidden ecstasy.
Fruits Of Passion: The Story Of “O” Continued stars Klaus Kinski (Fitzcarraldo), and Arielle Dombasle (Lace, Pauline At The Beach). Censored in America for its graphic scenes of sexuality, this notorious erotic epic is now presented completely uncut and unrated for the first time ever.
eyelights: Klaus Kinski. the film’s aesthetic quality. its avant-gardist elements
eyesores: Isabelle Illiers. the plot (or lack thereof). the muddled English.
‘Les fruits de la passion’ is an interesting oddity that I stumbled upon just recently, while reading up on ‘Collections privées‘. I was curious to know more about Shûji Terayama, the director of the second short, having never heard of him before, and discovered that he made another erotic film, based on ‘Histoire d’O‘, called ‘Les fruits de la passion’.
I had never heard of it before. Already, the association with ‘Histoire d’O’ was compelling, but when I discovered that it was produced by the same people behind ‘Ai no korîda’ and ‘Ai no borei’, I was even more intrigued. It appears that they had originally sought Nagisa Ôshima to make three films for them, but, given that the second one wasn’t nearly as erotic as the first (as they had hoped!), they parted ways.
In came Shûji Terayama, who promised to deliver a more sexually-explicit film.
Reading all of this made me want to see ‘Les fruits de la passion’, but I couldn’t find it anywhere – at least, not locally, nor via online buyers. The DVD had long been out of print and couldn’t be found. Given that it completely fit my current theme, I was desperate enough as to want to watch it on VHS, but even that was impossible to find. So I got myself another source and ended up seeing it in relatively poor quality.
It turns out that it was a good thing that I didn’t spend too much time or money in acquiring it: ‘Les fruits de la passion’ simply isn’t worth it.
The film is in French, Mandarin and English. Thankfully, there are subtitles for the first two. However, we would also have needed some for the whole film, because there’s nothing worse than trying to decrypt French, Chinese and German actors trying to speak English phonetically; honestly, I understood no more than 20% of it. Mercifully, little of the film was in the language of the Bard.
While ‘Histoire d’O’ is based on the book by Anne Declos (under the pseudonym Pauline Réage), ‘Les fruits de la passion’ is based on ‘Retour à Roissy’, which is the sequel to the original story and which was published under her name even though she actually never wrote it. ‘Les fruits…’ plays as a follow-up to the movie version of ‘Histoire d’O’.
The problem here, however, is that it looks different, features a complete different cast and crew and doesn’t even bother to explain the back story of the characters so that the audience may understand how they got to where they are. Presumably, it was assumed that cinemagoers would already be familiar with the material and fill in the gaps.
The problem is that, without this knowledge, the film has absolutely no value. Whereas the first explains why the protagonist subjects herself to all forms of ignominy in the name of love, this one leaves her completely subjugated with no real explanation for it. Is she a prisoner? Is she suffering from serious self-esteem issues? Why would she submit to this treatment?
It doesn’t help that the “actress”, Isabelle Illiers is always so miserable-looking; she perpetually looks like she just cried her eyes out or is about to. She isn’t alluring at all. Following in Corinne Clery’s footsteps, as O, is a challenging enough task as it is with no charisma or looks to go on. Poor thing: watching her was like watching someone kick a puppy. Real sexy.
Thankfully, Klaus Kinski is surprisingly watchable here (I’m not much of a fan), even if he is naked half the time. Because, yes, Kinski does full frontal nudity in this film. In fact, unless they lit and edited the scene really well, he also did a sex scene with one of the actresses. It was surprising to see how graphic the film got, even with its lead actors.
In fact, there was a fair bit of nudity and sex (some unsimulated!), but very little of it was erotic or sensual. There were a few moments with Arielle Dombasle that were enjoyable, but I suspect that this was simply due to the rest being so unappealing. ‘Les fruits de la passion’ is kinky, yes, explicit, yes, but not even sexy. I can’t say it often enough: sex isn’t necessarily sexy.
Bizarrely, ‘Les fruits…’ doesn’t even focus on BDSM as much as the first film did – even though it’s a follow-up and it’s more graphic. I wonder who they thought their audience was. Similarly it has a different look. This is natural, given that the filmmakers are different, of course. It’s an appealing, slightly avant-gardist, style, but it’s not nearly as luscious as ‘Histoire d’O’.
Sexy films are all about creating a mood; it’s the key difference between erotica and porn. This often means leaving more to the imagination because it activates the largest erogenous zone, the brain. ‘Les fruits de la passion’ does anything but, and manages to bore the heck out of its audience with a wildly disinteresting and disinterested protagonist.
There is no passion to be seen here, and the fruits to be reaped are not even remotely sweet.
Date of viewing: June 21, 2013