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David Leland Heads Into 'Virgin Territory'

23 Aug, 2008 By: Billy Gil

Actor Hayden Christensen and Writer/director David Leland.

What started as an idea to make an updated film version of Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron ended as Virgin Territory, a bawdy period comedy heading to DVD ($26.97) Aug. 26 from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Virgin Territory stars Hayden Christensen as Lorenzo di Lamberti, a lovable scoundrel with plenty of ladies-in-waiting. But the one he wants is the one he can’t seem to have, lovely Pampinea (Mischa Barton), who is betrothed to marry Count Dzerzhinsky (“Brothers & Sisters’” Matthew Rhys) and is also being vigorously pursued by villainous nobleman Gerbino (Tim Roth).

Writer-director David Leland said he didn’t want to make the film episodic — The Decameron consists of 100 novellas. Rather, he focused on some of the steamier aspects, such as adapting the story of a character (in this case, Christensen’s) who pretends to be deaf and mute in order to work as a gardener at a convent. Needless to say the nuns don’t exactly hold to their vows of chastity.

“If it wasn’t racy, then I think it wouldn’t be true to Boccaccio,” Leland said. “What Boccaccio did is put together stories he had picked up all over the place. A lot of the stories were stories you’d hear guys tell each other in the pub.”

But, as with most adaptations, Leland took some liberties with the stories.

“The part about the young men running off into the countryside and having sex with farm girls … that’s entirely an invention of my torrid mind,” Leland said. “We did set out to kind of see how far we could push it in terms of that.”

The DVD is being released under Anchor Bay’s new Unzipped label, and as such, offers sexy special features including uncensored scenes deemed too provocative for the film itself. Featurettes include “David Walliams: Cart Pusher” and one on designer Roberto Cavalli’s costume work.

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