''Angels and Insects'' is a passion project -- Philip and Belinda Haas get more than they bargained for in their film exploring Victorian sexual practice

By Robin J. Schwartz
Updated January 26, 1996 at 05:00 AM EST

Husband-and-wife team Philip and Belinda Haas wanted compelling, imaginative sex scenes in Angels & Insects, their sly commentary on Victorian mating rituals (which, between them, they directed, produced, edited, and adapted from A.S. Byatt’s novella Morpho Eugenia). But they got more than they bargained for when, in a pivotal moment, a character is caught flagrante delicto and leaps from bed, revealing an unmistakable erection.

”We didn’t actually plan what his physical reaction was going to be,” says Belinda, ”although it happened to serve the story very well.” Chosen over a second, less pointed take, the shots expose the amoral Edgar, played by Douglas Henshall, in all his baseness. ”It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, this is better because it’ll get us an X,”’ says Philip. ”It was just more.potent.” To avoid a ratings board battle, Angels & Insects, which debuts in New York on Jan. 26, will be released unrated.