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Rapture (DVD)

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The Emperor is pleased to review such a classy production. 'Classy' is not usually an adjective that we are used to using in describing porno. Perhaps being the product of porn veteran William Higgins makes all the difference.

First of all, a great deal of thought and effort has gone into the direction and production of "Rapture," and it shows. Here, we have a video with unidentified performers. We can venture a guess at a few identities, but will have to remain in the dark about the rest. Some important artistic background (those of you who prefer to remain cinematically unenlightened may skip this section): This is a re-telling of the 1971 Luchino Visconti film "Death In Venice," which itself was based on the (gay) German author Thomas Mann's story of the same name. In brief, it related the story of an aging German professor who develops an obsession for a delicate Italian twink while vacationing in Venice at the turn of the century.

Unfortunately, Venice is overwhelmed by a cholera epidemic, and the old man dies while adoring the object of his desire from afar. The Visconti film is NOT one of our favorite movies -- too depressing. Higgins' 1999 version pays continual homage to Visconti: he dresses his protagonist in a hat and jacket similar to Dirk Bogarde's in the original film; he even uses the same Mahler music as part of his soundtrack. However, Higgins sets his story in Prague, and provides a much happier ending -- no cholera! (As well as many diversions with other cute young men.) There now, don't you feel better having learned some cinema history with your porn?

Pavel Dubcek plays the protagonist. Considerably younger that Mann or Visconti's old German professor, he is much more apt to consummate his lust. In fact, as the story opens Pavel has sex with a boy on a bearskin rug in front of a fireplace with a chicken roasting in it. Chicken?! The chicken isn't only in the fireplace, as you'll soon see. The two suggestively eat fruit and wine, Tom Jones-style (another cinematic allusion), then suck for a while until Pavel fucks the young man every-which-way. This scene is introduced by an intertitle, "Nessun dorma" (nobody sleeps), which also happens to be the title of the lovely opera soundtrack that accompanies it. In fact, opera music provides much of the lush soundtrack to this film, and our opera consultant, the lovely Empress Regina Romaine, assures us that each and every one has been carefully selected for its connections with the mood or action of the video. We have to say that this is not always equally effective, as the soaring strains of the music sometimes seem out-of-keeping with the youthful sexual hijinks of the performers. Imagine opera as background music to "Beverly Hills 90210".

Pavel visits the market to buy some apples. Note his clever trick: he drops his apples in front of the man he's cruising. Pavel follows him to an outdoor cafe where they cruise each other mercilessly. As his paramour leaves, Pavel sacrifices his remaining apples to the garbage to free his hands for other things. His blondish mate retreats to an arcade filled with men in uniform. To the tune of a cute 1920s French song that seemed very in keeping with the scene, he rambles down the hall making his selection. As he moves into a booth -- surprise! We've never seen an arcade booth that was a luxurious bedroom with a four-poster bed and striped wallpaper. Blond stud has some chest hair (unusual in this bevy of young beauties) and he and his skinny partner suck until blondie gets fucked by a dildo and by the skinny guy's long dick.

Back to our hero-protagonist, who is taking a scenic tour of Prague. He spies four young men in uniform, one in sailor whites. Ah, just what he's been looking for! Pavel immediately becomes obsessive. Cut to two boys in fatigues lounging around a picturesque cottage straight out of Grimm's fairy tales. The two accost an adorable fisherboy and tease him about not catching anything. Well, he's about to catch some trouser trout, doesn't that count? Suddenly, one of them offers him "American chicken!" and out of nowhere pulls out a nice roast chicken. Hey, wait a minute; wasn't that roasting on the fire in the opening scene? Fisherboy is another Pavel, Pavel Korsakov, and he's a fine specimen, with an adorable face and hard, muscular body. The three of them suck and fuck among some picturesque ruins after seducing each other by slurping on an ice-cream bar and -- unbelievably -- a cucumber carved into a dildo. Here is where the soaring strains of violins accompanying the foreskin play begin to seem a little overdramatic. One man mostly watches; the other two fuck and suck, with beautiful Pavel Korsakov doing bottom duties.

Our hero is pursuing the young sailor through the picturesque streets of Prague. Cut to: four soldiers playing war-games out in the woods. One pisses just above and behind two of his comrades, who discuss strategy on the walkie-talkie and conclude by wondering if a shower has sprung up -- they felt some sprinkles. Har har. A very angry officer yells at them on the walkie-talkie, and one has to leave. The two remaining lads soon resort to sex to pass the time. It's another beautiful setting near a rustic stone wall in the woods. As the two skinny, hairless young men suck each other, the third soldier reappears, watching quietly from afar and whacking his meat.

The other two successfully sneak up from behind (just how good at soldiering could these guys be?). One of these three men is Andel, sporting a high-and-tight haircut. We understand Andel was actually in the Czech military, so we wonder if this sort of thing goes on all the time and that's why he's so good at it. Andel and one of his friends bottom, and all shoot to the tune of Puccini's "O Mio Babbino Caro" (Oh my sweet little boy -- one of those very appropriate uses of opera that we mentioned, since this phrase aptly sums up the appeal of sweet little Andel). The group continues playing and we get some more cum-shots.

Meanwhile, Pavel has pursued his sailor into a church, where he seems to be praying intently. Perhaps he's praying that this weirdo will quit following him all over Prague. An intertitle proclaims "Costa diva," which refers to an opera as well as to the next scene, taking place on the beach. (We prefer an alternate interpretation: "divas cost!").

The sailor and his friends have all changed into swimsuits. Sailor boy is wearing a boyish one-piece almost identical to the one worn by his predecessor in the Visconti film. Pavel Korsakov is back here as well, but the other two cute boys have no other scenes. After one hunky pal wrestles the sailor to the ground, he sulks and walks out into the water, holding out his hand.

Suddenly, Pavel's hand joins his, and the two are transported to yet another fabulous bedroom set. They suck and 69, then Pavel launches a LONG fuck of the sailor in multiple positions. The two come to the emotionally-charged music of "Madame Butterfly." Then in one final scene the two simultaneously receive communion wafers from an absolutely adorable priest (Jan Dvorak) back in the church, and then swim off together into the sunset.

Well. What a spectacle. We must say that this is probably the most artistically lavish and stylish video we have ever seen. The attention to beautiful sets rivals (perhaps even surpasses) Kristen Bjorn. The scenes are skillfully lit, even the outdoor scenes, which couldn't have been easy. The soundtrack, while not always appropriate, is nonetheless stirring and lovely. We found the many allusions to Visconti and to other films and opera clever and intriguing. But the sex scenes could have been more tightly edited. Still, the guys are attractive, and their dicks are hard, and the whole package taken together is certainly a worthwhile effort. Higgins has put far more thought and effort into this than is common, and he is to be applauded for his achievements. Perhaps we shall make him a duke, that's SIR William Higgins, thank you!

DVD features: The full-length feature; interactive menus; digitally remastered; chapter selections; slide-show gallery; and no regional coding (playable worldwide).

A DVD Review by The Porn Emperor ( http://www.ManNet.com )

*** Highly Recommended ***

Starring Pavel Dubcek (a.k.a. Max Pellion), Jirka Kalvoda (a.k.a. Ales Hanak), Andel, El Greco, Pepa, Adam Novatny, Martin Pravada, Pavel Korsakov and Tabor Schindler. Also starring Jan Dvorak (a.k.a. Pavel Novotny, Max Orloff) in a non-sexual role.

Directed by Wim Hof (a.k.a. William Higgins) and Pavel Nikos.

An All Worlds DVD.

DVD features include Interactive Menus; Chapter Index; Jump to Your Favorite Scenes; DVD-ROM Compatible; No Regional Coding for World Wide Playback.

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