On the countryside of a 19th century central European empire, Crown Prince Rudolf resides at his manor estate with his nanny, faithful servants, and armed guards. However, the Prince abstains from being stately and goes against his father’s, the Emperor’s, wishes. Instead, the pan-sexual Prince frolics through life with his two lovers, his half brother and half sister. Their apathetic about the Emperor’s inclinations and enjoying the carnal pleasures, juvenile games, and the ecstasy of free-spirit inducing drugs with their communal aristocratic friends and feral manor servants. The Prince plans to humiliate his stern father by hosting the biggest festivity with dancing and champagne, laced with uppers that has his guest losing their clothes and parading amongst the grounds in a merry-go-round of uninhibited jovial madness that sends his the Prince’s father into an uproar that calls for the execution of his son and his lovers.
The 1976 “Public Vices, Public Virtues” is a circus of eroticism with a belly full of symbolism and ambiguity. Hungarian director Miklós Jancsó has developed a masterpiece from a script co-written with Giovanna Gagliardo that’s loosely based off the infamous 19th century murder-suicide known as the “Mayerling Incident,” which involved Prince Rudolf, the Crown Prince of Austria and the son of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. Jancsó, called “the greatest Hungarian film director of all time” by his peers, maintains elements of the tragically historical event and morphs it into a melodramatic comedy penned with singsongy dialogue and communicated through various performances of the arts.
Fellow Hungarian Lajos Balázsovits encompasses the lead role of Prince Rudolf who ravages the screen with a lighthearted and uncut male nudity performance that sets an artistic and ethereal tone of beauty, of love, and of revolt. Alongside Lajos Balázsovits comes cult actors such as Tinto Brass regular Franco Branciaroli (“The Key,” “The Voyeur” which he was spectacular), Teresa Ann Savoy (“Salon Kitty,” “Caligula”), Laura Betti (“A Bay of Blood”), and “Night Sun’s” Pamela Villoresi to be at Jancsó disposal to be free to unclothe in a joyous protest against a ruthless and steely ruler. The mutton chops of Emperor Franz Joseph make a resembling appearance as part of the lucrative backdrop for the boisterous sexual revolution that stormed the cinema markets and Balázsovits fully submerges into a pan-sexual role, gladly submitting himself to women, men, and even his goggly-eyed Nanny, Laura Betti, who gets to touch the royal scepter in more ways than one.
The co-produced Italian and Yugoslavian “Public Vices, Public Virtues” has an astonishing production value for soft core erotica. The elaborate, detailed wardrobe and authentic appeal to recreate the 19th century era is stunningly breathtaking and highly infatuating to be in the midst of an amorous atmosphere. With the costumes and manor home, the cash flow trends toward the amount of extras casted to prance and dance in an everlasting parade of jubilance. “Inglorious Bastards” and “The New York Ripper” composer Francesco De Masi displays his brass, as in brass instruments, continuously conducting a marching tune to the aristocratic orgy that doesn’t attest to a viewer allurement, but does put into place a bit of pizzaz into the melodrama. De Masi’s soundtrack compliments the nursery rhymes and classical scores that round out this Filmes Cinematografica and Jadran Film production.
Proclaimed the wild side of world cinema, Mondo Macabro releases “Private Vices, Public Virtues” on a glorious restored and uncut Blu-ray region ABC release. The original negative restored and transferred to a single layer BD25 displays a vibrant 1080p and progressive widescreen presentation. I’m amazed at the retaining of the natural coloring, the amount of spacial depth, and prolific details that doesn’t display a hint of compression artefacts and maintains very low digital noise interference, especially in the black levels. The LPCM audio contains an English dub track and an Italian track with optional English subtitles on both. The digitized analog audio clearly expresses itself without hisses, pops, or other types of disruption. Mondo Macabro stuffs this Blu-ray with exclusive bonus material including three interviews with writer Giavanna Gagliardo, actress Pamela Villosesi, and film historian Michael Brooke. The original theatrical trailer and Mondo Macabro previews bring up the bonus feature rear. “Private Vices, Public Virtue,” to the naked eye, is 104 minutes of a frisky spectacle of the utmost buffoonery, but in the trenches, the Miklós Jancsó film is a Hungarian filmmaker’s undercurrent of inspiration and revolution against oppression and Mondo Macabro just highly defined the era!