Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Primitive Love - Italian International Film vs Something Weird Video

Primitive Love (aka L'amore primitivo) (1964), the Jayne Mansfield vehicle that uses a flimsy Italian sex comedy backdrop as an excuse to showcase some wholly unremarkable mondo fodder, has been released on DVD by both Italian International Film (IIF) in 2006 and Something Weird Video (SWV) in 2001, the latter including the film as a mondo double bill with Mondo Balordo (aka A Fool's World) (1964).


Both releases come with their share of faults. The IIF release presents us with an excessively dark widescreen version, while the SWV release of the film is a notably lighter fullscreen print, albeit one that's heavily cut, missing nearly twelve minutes of footage compared to the IIF release (see Appendix 1 for a comprehensive listing of the cuts).

(Note that the thumbnail images have been uniformly resized for convenience; click the images to view them in their native aspect ratio.)

IIF's widescreen transfer results in some unfortunate redactions of mildly lascivious scenes, for instance curtailing our view of Mansfield's legs in one scene and cutting out a native's breasts in another. The darkness of IIF's print also renders the scenes in the already-darkened hotel room nearly indistinguishable from a blackened screen, while SWV's print uses an irritating blue filter (that's absent from the IIF print) for many of the outdoor scenes, as well as possessing an equally irksome bright strip on the right side of the frame for the last third of the film.

The IIF DVD release presumably comes with Italian and English audio options alongside Italian hearing-impaired subtitles (though our copy used for review only included the Italian audio track), while the SWV DVD comes with just the English audio, sans any subtitles. The Italian narration is done by an impersonal male narrator, while the English narrative is conducted by Mansfield herself, which lends itself to greater coalescence with the plot as Mansfield is supposed to be showing the film she made to a professor friend of hers.

As previously mentioned, we also found the SWV release to include a number of cuts when compared to the IIF release. Curiously enough, however, none of the risque scenes which involve any titillation nor any of the scenes of the copious on-screen animal death are missing from the SWV cut (a chicken, hog, alligator, shark, and snake are all executed on camera; not to mention the Philippine cock fight, complete with razor talons). Instead, the cuts are fairly innocuous, or at least as innocuous as any act of gross censorship can hope to be, generally consisting of either abridgments or outright excisions of the various bits of mondo-anthropological footage, although they do tend to slightly disrupt the film's continuity at times due to their crass abruptness.

Considering the deficiencies of both releases, it's thus difficult to recommend a clear winner. Those who have at least one of the two releases can thus at least content themselves with the fact that they're ultimately not missing all that much on the other release, although mondo completists will of course do well to procure both.

Appendix 1. Scenes present in the Italian IIF Release of Primitive Love but cut from the US SWV Release.

Format: Number. Start Time (Hours:Minutes:Seconds)-End Time (Hours:Minutes:Seconds) Scene Description/Comments.

Nota bene: Scene times are given with respect to the IIF release of the film, and as always timings may not be precise (assume a +/- two-second deviation at best).

  1. 00:15:27-00:19:50 Scenes of various tribes hunting with bows, mashing grain, dancing, and riding around the desert on camels; followed by a sequence with an exotic dancer. This is the only cut segment which contains any even remotely salacious footage.

  2. 00:49:51-00:50:59 Natives from the Philippines sitting around the campfire playing a bamboo instrument.

  3. 00:53:53-00:55:14 The scene of the African prostitutes undergoing a purification ritual is cut short in the SWV cut, missing their return to the village and the ensuing ceremony.

  4. 01:02:41-01:03:22 Men eating shark soup. Notably, the graphic scenes of sharks being hunted and slaughtered are present in both cuts, but the wholly tame soup-eating scene that follows is missing from the SWV print.

  5. 01:08:16-01:10:06 A woman with a baby walking through the docks and streets of Hong Kong.

  6. 01:21:31-01:24:00 The end credits in the IIF print appear over a series of green-tinged sculptures, while in the SWV print they're simply presented over a black screen. The music in the IIF print also goes on longer than in the SWV release, continuing on for more than a minute even after the credits are done. The credits in the IIF release are, expectedly, in Italian; however, the credits in the SWV print appear in Spanish!

Total amount of cuts: 00:11:52

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