Story of O, The (1975)

“O wondered why she found her terror so delicious.”

Synopsis:
At the request of her lover (Udo Kier), a woman (Corinne Clery) is given the pseudonym “O” and trained to become a willing sex slave to men.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Unfortunately, there’s little to enjoy and much to be offended by in this dull, slowly-paced, lushly photographed erotic classic (based on the French novel by “Pauline Reage”). As Peary notes, the pain “O” suffers at the hands of the “debonairly repulsive” men around her is rarely mitigated by any signs of overt pleasure; we hear her voicing her consent, yet it’s hard not to feel like she’s got some serious psychological issues for agreeing to this kind of torture. Equally disturbing is the fact that, other than in the final, extremely brief closing shot, it is uniformly women who are abused by men in this film, rather than an equal interplay existing between both. Indeed, as pointed out in the MediaScreen.com review — the only recent review I could find online that seems to corroborate my distaste for the film — in an age of increased awareness about the dire situation for women in many countries around the world, it’s especially disturbing to see women abused at the hands of dominant men.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Corinne Clery’s surprisingly nuanced performance as O
    Corinne Clery
  • Beautiful soft-filter cinematography
    Walking
  • Sumptuous, elaborate sets
    Set

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a brief look simply for its place in erotic cinema history. But don’t expect to enjoy it.

Links:

3 Responses to “Story of O, The (1975)”

  1. I haven’t seen this movie yet, but I bought the soundtrack by Pierre Bachelet, which is gorgeous – among my favorites, particularly “O et la Chateau de Roissy”, which is reminiscent of the music by Vangelis from the TV series COSMOS. The CD overall is just beautiful 70s French loungy pop.

  2. First viewing. Rather in agreement with the assessment overall…’cept that I can’t see it as worth a look “for its place in erotic cinema history”. Mainly because, as stated in the review, it’s so frickin’ DULL! It adds so little to hold its place.

    It is definitely beautifully photographed, its production design is extremely impressive, and there is a nice score. The extent of its eroticism, however, is negligible. For the most part, the sex here seems a chore for the participants to get through.

    It’s certainly a chore to watch!

    This is the kind of movie you sit through wondering, ‘Do any of these people work?!’

    I’d have more ‘respect’ for it if it were more entertainingly bad…

    [ – it does have a fair share of howlers in the dialogue:

    Anne-Marie: Have you been beaten recently?
    O: 2 or 3 weeks ago. About that.
    Anne-Marie: You will not be beaten here. Only this once. For your arrival.]

    …alas, however, it takes itself very seriously.

    Director Just Jaeckin – the French Adrian Lyne, apparently – did not make that many films. But, like this one, they’re all on the ‘form over content’ side. Except perhaps his 1981 version of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ – which does have yet another wooden performance by Sylvia Kristel, but also features a marvelous incarnation of Mellors via actor Nicholas Clay. Yum! Great movie?, no; compelling?…well, a guilty pleasure.

  3. Oh, right, O is a photographer. Still…

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