From Germany, a failed attempt at artsploitation that was completed in 1975 but not released until two years later—and then promptly forgotten (aside from one scene). There’s a definite reason for that.
The film begins with a criminal trial centered on two young women, Andrea (Susanne Uhlen) and Simone (Anita Mally). They’ve committed a crime, the nature of which is revealed through extended flashbacks.
Those flashbacks detail how the gals find themselves adrift in Munich. Amid the city’s carefree vibe the two initiate a lesbian relationship. Concurrently, they become obsessed with the medieval philosopher Peter Abelard, whose grave they visit during a trip to Paris. Abelard, of course, was castrated, a fact that becomes quite pertinent to the remainder of the film—and also Andrea and Simone’s criminal trial, wherein they use quotes from a book of Abelard’s letters to defend their actions.
The gals start up a three-way relationship with a studly veterinarian named Georg (Christian Kohlund). The castration motif is furthered in a scene in which Georg has a horse “fixed” (shown in graphic detail), and finds its apex when Andrea and Simone learn that Georg has been carrying on an affair with a sexy actress (Christine Buchegger). Confronting Georg in his surgery room, they take an extremely impulsive and bloody action that leaves Georg irrevocably crippled and themselves screaming in horror at what they’ve done.
ABELARD has become notorious for the horse castration scene, although writer-director Franz Seitz lavishes far more screen time on the sexual encounters between the protagonists (while the climactic human castration takes place entirely off-screen). Yet despite those things ABELARD never succeeds as exploitation, being far too cerebral in tone, yet it’s certainly not art (horrific of otherwise).
For the most part the film is agonizingly dull, with a formless and meandering narrative that’s packed with lengthy montages of its principals wandering around Munich. To further pad the proceedings Franz Seitz includes a movie theater sequence in which his protagonists, and the audience, view a lengthy excerpt from DER PAUKENSPIELER, a 1967 anthology film partially directed by Seitz. Viewers with an interest in the latter film (which from what we’re shown here doesn’t look like much) or in 1970s-era Germany will be enchanted, but everyone else will likely be as bored as I was.
ABELARD—THE CASTRATION (ABELARD—DIE ENTMANNUNG)
Franz Seitz Filmproduktion
Director/Producer/Screenwriter: Franz Seitz
Cinematography: Heinz Schnackertz
Editing: Adolph Schlyssleder
Cast: Christian Kohlund, Susanne Uhlen, Anita Mally, Christine Buchegger, Hans Quest, Henner Quest, Gunther Malzacher, Charlotte Kerr, Reinhard Kolldehoff, Rolf Zacher