Private Vices, Public Virtues is….an interesting film to say the least. It is the Miklós Jancsó telling of the story of Crown Prince Rudolf of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the events that lead to his death, and, quite possibly, the beginning of WWI. While the real story of Rudolf is quite unorthodox, this telling is bordering on bizarre, which is almost to be expected from a 70’s Italian-Yugoslavian sexploitation flick.
Mondo Macabro has brought this film back to life with this new release, which comes in the standard or Limited editions (only 1000 copies). This review will cover the Limited Edition only. Let’s jump in!
The Movie (3/5)
The Crown Prince Rudolf was a real person, who has a pretty interesting story. This film begins by introducing the character of Rudolf in much the same way that we will see him throughout the entire movie — naked. His introduction gives us insight into his thoughts and motives right off the bat. Bored with his wife, and unhappy with his father’s expectations of producing an heir and one day taking the crown, he vows to never have a child and to essentially embarrass his father into arresting him.
His master plan to accomplish this lofty goals is to invite a lot of friends over and throw a wild orgy, complete with incest, bisexual encounters, and drug use. Oh, and his wife isn’t invited.
This party leads to death and, potentially, WWI. That certainly escalated, right?
Of course I am oversimplifying things here, and glossing over the obvious commentary on class and power. I feel that most people will probably see this movie as a strange and unsettling sex film, which it really isn’t. In fact, the entire time I was watching this film I was reminded of Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom (minus the extremely dark overtone). Both films take a sexualized stab at power and classist society, and both can be awkward at times. I will stress that Private Vices, Public Virtues is not at all degrading or hard to watch like Salo. In fact, this movie was a much brighter counter to Salo, in that the motives the Prince was promoting were more of a free love sort of vibe while still pushing against society. Sort of a strange comparison, I know, but it stuck with me.
This movie firmly falls in the line of cult cinema that I’ve been easing my way into over the last year or two. Most people will have little to no interest in a film like this, but anyone who is interested in the time period or who likes the odd and unique will surely find something worth watching.
The Picture 4/5
The transfer for this release is very clean, with a new 2k scan of the original camera negative. It always impresses me what can be done with old film like this. Apart from a few scenes with a bit of a dreamlike haze quality to them, the film looks fantastic. Bright and vivid colors look great after 40 years, and plenty of fine detail shows through very clearly.
The Sound 5/5
While the audio is not particularly action packed or exciting, it certainly sounds decent, especially given its age. The dubbing is obvious and although fairly well done, there are a few scenes that just come across as awkward (especially when the characters are making animal noises; you’ll know it when you hear it). The music and voice levels are mixed well, with nothing getting lost in the mix.
The Features & Packaging 4.5/5
Unlike other Mondo Macabro Limited Editions, Private Vices, Public Virtues does not come in the shiny red case. Instead (due to lack of supply of red cases), they have opted for the standard blu-ray case with a fairly good looking slipcover. Inside the case we have a sleeve with art on one side (including your number out of 1000 copies), the typical red colored Mondo Macabro styled art on the blu-ray disc, and a 12 page booklet with an in depth and interesting essay on “Stripping Down the Ruling Class: Sex, Nudity, and Politics” by Max Weinstein and Joe Yanick.
Special Features include:
- Interview with writer Giovanna Gagliardo
- Interview with actress Pamela Villoresi
- Interview with film historian Michael Brooke
- Original Trailer
- Mondo Macabro trailers
While there aren’t a lot of features, these interviews will likely be a selling point for fans of the movie. The booklet (which is only present in the Limited Edition) is well made and interesting, but black and white only (apart from the covers). Overall, this is an attractive package that leaves little to complain about. That is, apart from not being in the red case that we are used to out of Mondo Macabro Limited Editions. Hopefully they bring those back in the future.
The Verdict 3.5/5
The audience for a film like Private Vices, Public Virtues is fairly limited, so chances are you already know if you’re interested. If a strange and interesting 70s sexploitation historical drama intrigues you then pick it up. Mondo Macabro has (as always) whipped up a fantastic package that will please any collector. If you are not entirely convinced, or are low on scratch, the standard edition will save you a few bucks. You can pick the LE up here and the standard will be available in October.
Note: This Blu Ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.