The Duke of Burgundy

"Peter Strickland’s latest outing, The Duke of Burgundy, was laced with its own surrealist elements. Its familiar tale of a reversal in the old Hegelian master/slave dialectic is given a twist by the film’s setting in an all-female universe. The lesbian relationship between gruff aristocrat Cynthia (played by Borgen star Sidse Babett Knudsen) and her softly-spoken housekeeper Evelyn (Strickland favourite Chiara d’Anna) derives its piquancy from the sadomasochistic role-play games the two engage in. Evelyn is scolded for her slipshod efforts at cleaning her master’s boots, whipped, urinated on (in a scene that takes place tastefully off-screen) and kept locked in a chest by the domineering Cynthia until she lets out the safety-word “pinastri”. Quelle surprise, then, that it is actually Evelyn who is in command, by way of instruction cards that Cynthia must obey to the letter lest she provoke the ire of her paramour. To compound the pervasive sense of Unheimlichkeit in the film, Cynthia also has a keen interest in moths, and gives lectures on the subject to the local lepidopterist society, the audience for which is partly populated by mannequin dolls. In the end, however, the main couple’s kinky exploits can not mask the fact that, after many years together, the passion in their relationship has waned, and is now replaced with mutual frustration and dissatisfaction – a universal predicament with which all long-term couples, regardless of their gender or sexual proclivities, will no doubt sympathise. While the film’s setting is deliberately left geographically and chronologically indistinct, the richly-toned colour palette, mannered acting and baroque decors of The Duke of Burgundy unambiguously render it a loving homage to a certain highly stylised vein of 1970s European erotic art cinema."
The Pinch Of Love
If you were fortunate enough in 2012 to allow director Peter Strickland to burst into your psyche with his tale of psychological horror in the delightfully fulfilling sensory cinema experience of ‘Berberian Sound Studio’, you would have been eagerly awaiting his follow up sensual delight in the beautiful form of ‘The Duke Of Burgundy’. Encompassing a tale that we all deal with to greater or lesser degrees, in the real potential horror story of human relationships, in particular those in the midst of a possible spiralling demise, though most folk probably use slightly less bondage and safety words in their relationship consoling. Their loss eh.
Based in a somewhat idyllic fairytale world of an almost overwhelming (but very welcoming) richness of femininity (there are no male characters at all), beauty and luxuriant nature (slowing reclaiming/embracing all the buildings), this is the world of Gaia writ large in the sumptuous calligraphy of the moving image.
In such a gorgeous, yet full, seemingly chaotic dance of nature (love), such as it the apparent erratic flight patterns of butterflies (the movie title being a reference to a type of butterfly, and the beauty lays in the dance not the understanding), it is the actual study of nature at talks they frequent that brings in the only potential masculine traits of western science and analysis, trying to bring order to chaos (understanding love), in the form of structure, routine, discipline, and of course well polished leather boots and some splendid bondage knots."



Feb/March Releases 2014:

Now on release Lars Von Trier's four hour (or 5 hour) epic master film Nymphomaniac is a wild, poetic drama about a woman's erotic journey from birth to the age of 50 as told by the main character, the self-diagnosed nymphomaniac of the provocative title - with perhaps, its little nod to 'O' ( )

Roman Polanski at 80 has just released his 21st film, The Venus in Furs. Based on the play by David Ives, portraying an actress (Emmanuelle Seigner) who is late for an audition for a inclined to masochism (Mathieu Amalric) Director, and embarks with him in a fierce battle of the sexes.

Asked if he had intentionally made a provocative movie Polanski replied, "this world suffers an increasingly absurd puritanism. Despite enormous advances in science and technology, man seems to be getting more stupid. We are returning to pre-Enlightenment times, and that's scary."




Valentine's Day 2015:




Fifty Shades of Grey actors and director announced


The most coveted roles in Hollywood have been handed to relatively unknown actress Dakota Johnson and British actor Charlie Hunnam, who will take on the leads in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. Various A-listers, including Harry Potter actress Emma Watson, Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke and even model Cara Delevingne, were all linked with the role of innocent college graduate Anastasia Steele.
But the 23-year-old daughter of actors Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, who appeared in The Social Network alongside Justin Timberlake, was revealed as the chosen actress by Fifty Shades author EL James.
Writing on Twitter, she said: "I am delighted to let you know that the lovely Dakota Johnson has agreed to be our Anastasia in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey.

British actor Charlie Hunnam is set to play billionaire Christian Grey in the big-screen adaptation.
The 33-year-old, who most recently starred in Guillermo del Toro's sci-fi film Pacific Rim, will take on the role of the wealthy business magnate, who seduces innocent college graduate Anastasia Steele in the upcoming film.
On Twitter, EL James, whose real name is Erika Leonard, said: "The gorgeous and talented Charlie Hunnam will be Christian Grey in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey."
Dubbed "mummy porn", the novel featured sado-masochistic sex and became the fastest-selling paperback of all time.
Artist turned filmmaker Sam Taylor-Wood is directing the big-screen version of the smash hit erotic novel.

Owen Bennett EXPRESS:
September 2, 2013 .

(Sam Taylor-Wood's artwork "Escape Artist" is featured above)



Review: The Story of O

June 2013: THE RABBLE take on Pauline Reage’s famous erotic novel Story of O, reinventing it as a surreal and erotic visual fantasia. We follow a woman known only as O as she submits to her lover’s demands – sex with men, sex with women, sex in public, sex with strangers, sex with machines – a festival of perversity, a denouncement of self...

(Melbourne Time Out) "I see you, O." Andrew Fuhrmann reviews the latest Neon Festival provocation: "The publication last year of the authorised French translation of Fifty Shades of Grey coincided with the re-release – this time in a 60th anniversary edition – of Anne Desclos's literary prize-winning erotic novel,Story of O. The French were all but gleeful in their derision. Compared to O, EL James was described as savourless, glossy porno-chic, and the "the greatest scam". The Anglo-American erotic mind, it was claimed, was evidently "stunted".This is much the same argument we see in outline in this latest, wildly imaginative stage adaptation of Desclos's pornographic fantasia.Conceived as a long love letter to the writer and publisher Jean Paulhan, Desclos's Story of O, describes the willing initiation of a beautiful young fashion photographer into a brutal life of sexual slavery, servicing both her lover, René, and a mysterious English aristocrat, Sir Stephen, O's cruel instructor in self-destruction.In The Rabble's extravagant and avid and genuinely provocative production what we get is not so much Desclos's pornographic masterpiece as a critical reinterpretation, informed principally by Susan Sontag's 1967 essay 'The Pornographic Imagination'. This is the essay in which Sontag argues for the liberating potential of high-art pornography, commending Desclos's erotic masterpiece as an example of demonic and original insight gleaned in self annihilation, and lauding the small circle of French intellectuals who take this potential seriously.Indeed, Sontag's enthusiastic programme is so much present here that at times this show appears more a theatrical representation of the essayist's dazzling advocacy than O's rather sombre progress toward absolute objectification..."

"Some may find it too shocking and I did see one walk out. It was telling though that half way through the act of leaving, the departing lady paused, transfixed by a development on stage, her decision to go made but the power of the piece not releasing her. I couldn’t have looked away for a second. Story of O is theatre that absolutely commands attention."
Melbourne: Concrete Playground


'O' Republished As Fifty Shades of Grey Succeeds In France

October 2012

TELEGRAPH: by Henry Samuel, Paris:
(50 Shades of Grey) has become the fastest-selling paperback since records started – 40m copies in 46 countries – and is the first e-book to have sold more than 1m copies.
Yet given the bad press it received in France, some thought the country might buck the global trend and see it ignored.
But two days after its launch, Cinquante Nuances de Grey as the French call it, was approaching the 100,000 mark nationwide, according to publisher LC Lattès.
Almost half of those copies were sold in Fnac bookshops, which said it had not registered such a buying frenzy since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Interest in the first instalment of British writer EL James' "mummy porn" trilogy, suggests the French pay little heed to the views of the literary establishment, which universally panned the work.
Fifty Shades of Grey recounts the relationship between Anastasia Steele, a 22-year old English literature graduate, and the handsome billionaire Christian Grey with a penchant for domination and bondage.
The message from Gallic critics was that a British author, who one said had "the writing level of a six-year old", had nothing to teach a country with a long history of erotic and sadomasochistic literature, from the Marquis de Sade to the Story of O, republished this week.
Sade was a French aristocrat who inspired the terms "sadistic" and "sadism" and blended flights of philosophy with often violent, often criminal sexual fantasies. Many of his works were written in prison, such as the 120 Days of Sodom, penned in the Bastille. He has appalled and inspired the French since his death in 1814, with the poet Guillaume Apollinaire calling him "the freest spirit that has yet existed".
The acclaimed 1954 novel Story of O, written by Anne Desclos under the pseudonym Pauline Réage, recounts the willing submission of a beautiful Parisian fashion photographer to her lover, René, with lashings of bondage and chains.
Les Inrocks magazine queried whether Fifty Shades' release hailed a "cultural shock between the Anglo-Saxon hypocrisy and the old authentic SM of the French", adding that it lacked any of the "philosophy" of the master-slave relationship found in the true "erotic heavyweights".
"What was all the fuss about?," asked Elle, which described the book as "Spiced-up Mills&Boon" whose sex scenes were "laughable". "Using crude words is not sufficient to create eroticism," it added.
Publishing 20 of the book's "most ridiculous quotes", Le Figaro newspaper wrote: "The only real surprise is in the style, which is far worse even than the disaster one might have expected." "Will Frenchwomen like it?," it asked. "One can only hope they haven't waited for this novel to find pleasure." With its "suspicious obsession with hygiene", the French would soon "tire of these Barbie Doll orgasms," it predicted.
The figures appear to have proved the claim wrong, while readers' comments are far less damning.
"It's poorly written, but I was totally possessed with this story right from the start. I didn't sleep for three nights," wrote Anna, a commentator on 20 Minutes website.
Another, Valérie, wrote: "A drug that one cannot do without and which leaves one full of eroticism."

18 October 2012
Emmanuelle star Sylvia Kristel
dies aged 60

Actress died in her sleep after battle with cancer.

Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel, who starred in the hit 1974 erotic French film ‘Emmanuelle’, has died aged 60.
The star had been suffering from cancer and was admitted to hospital in July after having a stroke.
Her agent, Marieke Verharen, confirmed the actress’s death, saying that “She died during the night during her sleep.”

Kristel rose to fame at the age of 22 when she starred in ‘Emmanuelle’, an erotic tale directed by Story of O director Just Jaeckin, about the sexual promiscuity of a man and his beautiful young wife (played by Kristel) in Thailand . Due to its raunchy nature, the film was banned in Paris for six months despite having been scheduled to premiere in the city. UK cinemagoers had to make do with a heavily censored version until 2007 when the unedited film was finally released.

The soft-focus French film was one of the first erotic movies to be shown in mainstream cinemas. Kristel went on to star in several sequels to ‘Emmanuelle’, as well as Hollywood movies including ‘Private Lessons’ in 1981.

She is survived by her partner Peter Brul and her son Arthur Kristel. She is to be buried at a private funeral.


Fifty Shades of Grey

It's pointless to deny that there's something going on here: EL James has now sold ( ) million copies of her Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy ...

July 2012: Story of O - the book, is back in the news as one to read on everybody's erotica booklists following in the wake of publishing sensation Fifty Shades of Grey.
A Story of O book jacket filled UK TV screens momentarily as part of the fairly explicit Channel 4 documentary Sex Story: Fifty Shades of Grey (29 July 2012)

Fifty Shades of Grey
has already created a nationwide obsession in the UK with all things erotic. Worldwide people can't stop talking about who should play the main characters in the movie version ("Speculation as to who will take on the roles of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in the film version of the hugely successful novel, Fifty Shades of Grey, has reached a whole new level...") - One newspaper predicts a "baby boom", - a blog page suggests the purchase of the Lelo Sensua Suede Whip ($40.00) - In the USA hardwear stores are ordering extra stock of quality rope...

"Tarzian Hardware in Park Slope, Brooklyn, has also seen a rash of rope sales..."

East Village Blogger Lindsay Mannering writes:

"Well slap my ass and call me Sally -- there's a run on rope in New York City. The Post talked to some hardware store owners in the Big Apple and discovered that, for some retailers, the sale of rope has increased ten fold over the last six months, and they say Fifty Shades of Grey is to thank. Apparently, women are coming in asking for soft-cotton clothesline ropes that are good for clean laundry ... and getting dirty.
I bet you thought you were so sneaky, asking the nice shopkeep to kindly show you to the ropes section, but honey, he, and every other shopkeep, is on to you. You ain't buyin' no rope to hang no clothes, and everyone knows it.
But that's not necessarily a bad thing.
No need to be shy or embarrassed about making a sexy purchase since, you know, everyone and their mother are running out to buy bondage material similar to that described in Fifty Shades. Sounds like you can even ask the hardware store guy some advice -- the employees in the New York stores, at least, have some great tips on what gauge rope will work best for your, uh, needs.
When something becomes pervasive, the taboo is sort of thrown out the window. How could you be bashful about it when you're just one of hundreds of thousands of women who are doing the same thing?
I say embrace Fifty Shades' popularity and take advantage of its ubiquity. It may seem like the book's not going anywhere any time soon, but like all things, it too shall pass. So seize the day -- go into a tool shop, ask for rope, and do it with gusto. Take comfort in your anonymity as well as your conspicuousness, then get your braided cord and go home and have some fun already.


Erika Leonard author of Fifty Shades of Grey said she has a short list of four men she sees as Christian Grey and about three as Anastasia Steele.
"I’m not telling anyone what they are because I’m not allowed to discuss the movie at all which is a real shame," she said. "Things are moving quite slowly on that but hopefully… it’s such fun and so hopefully after we’ve put a few things in place, it will all start to move on. We’ve still got to get the producers in place then deal with the script and all that. The actual film is a long way down the line."


Fifty Shades of Grey is bad for bondage (The Guardian)

"All the work that has been done to establish that BDSM is not a pathological symptom, but one of a wide range of normative human erotic interests, is in danger of being undermined by the success of Fifty Shades. Let's hope we do not return to the days when people were discriminated against – losing children, property, jobs – for their interest in BDSM. Remember, Fifty Shades is just another bodice-ripper. With cable ties." Pamela Stephenson Connolly

'O' READERS... in response to 50 Shades...

Margaret Drabble:
"The most erotic book I ever read was an anonymous novel called L'Histoire d'O, which I think was by a woman called Pauline Réage. It was a sado-masochistic romp and I was given a copy in France in the 1960s when it was probably illegal in England.

John Banville:
"I find The Story of O deeply erotic precisely because the woman at the centre of it holds all the power, even though she seems the one most cruelly treated. Also the book is beautifully and tenderly written, in its odd way. Someone with a decent prose style should do a proper translation of it."


including items from the What's New page of my original website:

  • Back in the early noughties it was rumoured on the London fetish scene that British actor Ralph Fiennes (pronounced /'reif 'fainz/) had taken a leading role in a privately financed and privately filmed version of Story of O shot in France. His agent maintained Fiennes was too busy at the time on major film and theatre projects. Fiennes has appeared in films such as Schindler's List, The English Patient, In Bruges, The Constant Gardener, Strange Days, Maid in Manhattan, Red Dragon and in the Harry Potter films as Lord Voldemort. Most recently he appeared in The Reader (2008), The Hurt Locker (2009) and also appeared as Hades in Clash of the Titans (2010).


  • Back in 2005 a theatre staging of 'Story of O' was promised for London. Did anything materialize? No further news came my way.

  • Cirque du Soleil around this time was sexing up their shows and promised an 'O' of their own. - "O", a Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas, turned out to have nothing to do with the 'O' we know and love but was.... "Inspired by the concept of infinity and by the pure form of the letter "O", - the title of this production is also a phonetic representation of the French word for water, the element embodied by this show. With an international cast performing in, on and above water, Cirque du Soleil's "O" tells the tale of theatre through the ages and frees us to lose ourselves in a world without limits. "O" pays tribute to the magic of the theatre from the simplest street performance to the most lavish of operas where anything is possible and where the drama of life plays itself out before our very eyes."


  • from The TIMES August 2003:

    "The Bookseller noted that the most stolen book in Norwegian bookshops was Pauline Reage's sado-masochistic The Story of O - to the extent that the publishers have now put a band round it saying "Norway's Most Stolen Book" ."


    September 26th 1978 found the London Evening Standard declaring on its front page (no less!)
    " London Bans The Story of O"... it was finally screened in London twenty one years later in December 1999.

  • ... tv Story of O ( 1974 / 2001 )

    The Just Jeakin movie finally made it onto British television screens at midnight on Sunday 18th March 2001. It was shown for the first time and in the original length French language version with English subtitles on Channel 4.
    "Refused a certificate when it was submitted in 1975, the British Board of Film Classification gave the film an18-certificate in February. It commented: "The film is very much a work of its time. Much of the action is conveyed by the facial expressions of the characters." Announcing the screening, a spokesman said: "Is this a dangerous piece of film-making? I really don't think so. If anyone was going to be morally outraged I would be very surprised."


  • Sleeping Beauty
    July 2011: Check out the film trailer for the soon to be released SLEEPING BEAUTY (2011): Sleeping Beauty is a haunting erotic fairytale about Lucy (Emily Browning), a young University student drawn into a mysterious hidden world of beauty and desire. Directed by Julia Leigh, Sleeping Beauty stars Emily Browning. The film will be premiered during Cannes Film Festival in France in May 2011. "Browning’s performance is utterly fearless, suffused with mystery, cold as ice. Leigh’s spare screenplay trusts the audience to fill in the imaginative spaces, and her framing is precise and economical. Fast-rising composer Ben Frost contributes a potent score. What a strange, ensnaring achievement, not least for a first-time feature, Sleeping Beauty is: no male director could have made it."
A strange marriage of Jane Campion and Lars Von Trier
that titillates, terrifies and haunts in equal measure.