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Seven Deadly Sins

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Casanova '70
The Old Crocodile
The Cherry Orchard
Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour's Wife
Kriemhild's Revenge
Greedy Humpty Dumpty
Oblomov
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From the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch, to Dante’s Divine Comedy, to David Fincher’s gory serial-killer thriller Seven, artists and philosophers have long been intrigued by the Seven Deadly Sins. Originating in Christian theology, this list of absolute no-no’s has found its way into the common vernacular, offering a moral framework that is still relevant today even if society at large is much less fearful of its implications.

Whether in the context of religious themes or not, filmmakers have reveled in portraying human vice on screen, at times depicting characters at their weakest and most wicked. Sounds like fun, right? Witness wanton displays of lust, gluttony, pride, envy, wrath, greed and sloth from a safe distance with our Journey through the Seven Deadly Sins.

Casanova '70

(1965) directed by Mario Monicelli, 115 minutes

Lust. Italian sex comedies were wildly popular in the 1960s through the early 1980s, attracting audiences with a randy mix of raunchy humor and erotic shenanigans. Heartthrob Marcello Mastroianni stars in this particularly outrageous entry into the genre, playing a horny NATO officer who can only get aroused in the presence of extreme danger. He spends most of the film bedding beautiful women under the threat of bodily harm or worse. In spite of its silly premise, Casanova ’70 struck a chord with audiences and critics, garnering a nomination for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards in 1966.

The Old Crocodile

(2005) directed by Koji Yamamura, 13 minutes

Gluttony. A whiny old crocodile suffers such a severe case of the munchies that he’s soon devouring his family and friends without a second thought. Because of his unquenchable appetite, the selfish croc is (justly) cast out from his home, a disgraced pariah of the animal kingdom. Let this be a lesson to all of you: hunger is no excuse to eat your great grandson. With this twisted fable, Oscar-nominated Japanese filmmaker Koji Yamamura employs a distinct, simple animation style and a darkly funny tone to depict a case of gluttony taken to the extreme.

The Cherry Orchard

(1999) directed by Michael Cacoyannis, 141 minutes

Pride. Anton Chekhov’s classic tale of an aristocratic Russian family that has fallen on hard times receives a wonderful and mostly faithful screen adaption at the hands of Greek director Michael Cacoyannis. The cherry orchard at the crux of the story is a source of overwhelming pride for the careless aristocrat Madame Ranevskaya (played by the incomparable Charlotte Rampling), so much so that she is unwilling to part with it even when faced with financial ruin. Set in a period of Russian history after the abolition of serfdom when many families lost much of their wealth, The Cherry Orchard depicts with great nuance the vanity with which the aristocracy ignored the shifting social and political landscape.

Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour's Wife

(1996) directed by Phil Mulloy, 9 minutes

Envy. In a series of short films, British animator Phil Mulloy has created what very well may be the most perverse interpretation of the Ten Commandments in history. Mulloy is fascinated with the dark-side of humanity and his contempt is evident in this work, using the Tenth Commandment and a sleazy character named Buck to explore some disturbing themes. While it’s true that Buck covets his neighbor’s wife, it’s her dog, the receiver of all her affection, that he truly envies. So infatuated is he with his neighbor that he devises a plan to switch places with the canine and then proceeds to commit some pretty heinous acts.

Kriemhild's Revenge

(1924) directed by Fritz Lang, 148 minutes

Wrath. Fritz Lang brings his distinctly dark touch to this adaptation of the German epic Nibelungenlied, an early exploration of the lengths humans will go to exact revenge on those who have wronged them. The grieving Queen Kriemhild is the central character of this tragedy, the second in Lang’s two-part series. After her husband Siegfried is killed at the conclusion of the previous film (Siegfried), the steely Kriemhild vows to avenge his death by any means necessary, even if it entails murdering her brothers and marrying Attila the Hun. Lang’s masterful directorial style is on full display here and he wisely uses close-ups of Kriemhild’s piercing stare to artfully convey the psyche of a woman hell-bent on payback.

Greedy Humpty Dumpty

(1936) directed by Dave Fleischer, 7 minutes

Greed. With Greedy Humpty Dumpty, Dave Fleischer takes the classic nursery rhyme and refashions it into a musical morality tale of greed run amok. In his version, Humpty Dumpty is not an innocent victim but rather a moneygrubbing slave driver consumed by a delirious desire for gold. It’s this crippling greed and hubris that leads to his fabled downfall. Along with his two brothers, Dave Fleischer was known for his subversive take on familiar archetypes and a perverse, devilish humor, which are on full display in this animated throwback.

Oblomov

(1979) directed by Nikita Mikhalkov, 140 minutes

Sloth. There’s nothing wrong with taking a load off from time to time, but Ilya Ilyich Oblomov, the titular character of this Russian melodrama, sets an entirely new precedent for laziness. Indifferent to the world around him, Oblomov spends most of his time lying in bed as if auditioning for a stage production of Rip Van Winkle. Much like the characters in The Cherry Orchard, Oblomov is used as a proxy to comment on the do-nothing landed gentry of nineteenth century Russia who lived off the fat of the land while contributing little, if anything, to society.