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Walerian Borowczyk, Surrealist Auteur, Dies

Walerian Borowczyk, an internationally known surrealist filmmaker, died of heart trouble on Feb. 3, 2006, in Paris, where he had resided since the late 1950s, reports THE NEW YORK TIMES. He was 82.

Originally trained as a painter and graphic artist, he made several dozen films, both animated and live-action, in the decades after World War II. Terry Gilliam, Jan Svankmajer and the Brothers Quay site him as an influence.

Working first in his native Poland then later in France, Borowczyk often dealt with the competing lures of sex and death. His live-action films featured candid, often explicit, depictions of sexual acts.

His best-known live-action work includes GOTO, L'ÎLE D'AMOUR (GOTO, ISLAND OF LOVE, 1968); BLANCHE (1971); CONTES IMMORAUX (IMMORAL TALES, 1974); and, most notoriously, LA BÊTE (THE BEAST, 1975).

His animated films included DOM (HOUSE, 1958), made with Jan Lenica; LES ASTRONAUTES (1959), with Chris Marker; RENAISSANCE (1963); and the feature THÉÂTRE DE M. ET MME. KABAL (MR. AND MRS. KABAL'S THEATER, 1967).

In the 1950s and 60s, Borowczyk was widely considered one of the most eminent animators in the world. His techniques included manipulating cutout geometric shapes and painting directly onto lengths of film.

RENAISSANCE opens with a room full of destroyed objects. Playing in reverse, a pile of feathers reforms into a stuffed owl; a tangle of metal becomes a trumpet; and the last object becomes a grenade, which pulls its own pin.

Known as Boro, he was born in Kwilcz, near Poznan, in 1923. After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, he served as an illustrator of film posters. In the years before his death, Borowczyk had devoted himself to painting, sculpture and writing.

"I look through the camera's viewfinder and I eliminate: that's the secret," he said in an interview quoted in the reference book WORLD FILM DIRECTORS (H. W. Wilson, 1988). "I also eliminate collaborators who dare to haggle over my ideas with me. I know it all. And that's often had members of my team in tears."

His wife, Ligia Branice, who starred in several of his films, is his only known survivor.

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