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Image, The

Synapse Films // Unrated // June 25, 2002
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Buzz Burgess | posted October 22, 2002 | E-mail the Author

The Movie

Sadomasochism and eroticism so compelling and extreme
you will find yourself squirming in your seat.


Considered one of the best independent filmmakers
of the 60's and 70's, Metzger began his career importing
erotic melodramas for distribution in the U.S. Soon
after he began creating his own softcore, releasing
Therese and Isabelle and The Lickerish
Quartet
. Compared to others in the genre, his works
were more literate and better overall than those of
his competitors. Entering the 70's, he started migrating
toward more explicit film making while continuing to
maintain the look and feel of an upscale production.
Following his last literary adaption (Score)
and immediately before his best known work The Opening
of Misty Beethoven
, Randy expands on his experimentation
with bondage as contained in another of his works (Camille
2000
).


The Image, (L'Image / The Punishment of Anne), is Radley
Metzger's masterful 1975 recreation of Catherine Robbe-Grillet's
(Jean de Berg) 1956 novel of a young girl caught up in
a Ménage à trois of humiliation and torture.

The story is narrated by Jean (Carl Parker), one of
the principals, as a re-collection of past events. Jean,
in recluse while writing a novel, re-enters the social
scene at a party where he comes across Claire (Marilyn
Roberts), an old acquaintance. Showing no immediate
interest in her, he is intrigued by her friend Anne
(Mary Mendum). Claire invites him to join them after
the party, wherein he discovers the SM relationship
between the two women in which Claire is the master
and Anne is the slave. As the movie progresses, he finds
himself becoming slowly involved and intertwined in
an atmosphere of bondage, eroticism and humiliation.
Beautifully photographed and physiologically complex,
events finally come full circle whereby the master becomes
the slave.


As in his other films and in typical Metzger fashion,
it is the women who are at the forefront to be studied
and investigated. He delivers the events through the
eyes of the masochist, a much less explored and accepted
view than those of the sadist. He draws you in, little
by little, into this world of uncomfortable pleasures
experienced by Anne; the brutal and calculated treatment
of her tormentor Claire and ultimately, Jean. Each encounter
is developed in detail, methodically, exposing a bit
more of the confusing emotions and inner turmoil of
its participants. And just when you think you've come
to the point where you can accept what is happening,
you are hit with a climatic scene so profound and intense
you may find yourself turning away. It's a study in
reality, much more believable and effective than modern
horror shockers. It's at this point a shift in authority
of the characters takes place, leading to an ending
that will make you think, "I should've seen that
coming."


Video

94 minutes, uncut and uncensored. Digitally mastered
from Metzger's original camera negatives, the quality
is simply amazing. The anamorphic DVD offering is presented
in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Shot on location
in Paris and New York, it is one of the best transfers
of a film I have seen. There is some minor loss of detail
in a few of the shadows but these are problems that
occurred during the filming, not the transfer and do
not detract from viewing experience.


Audio

Original mono (English), DS 2.0 (English) and Isolated
Musical Score. Free from hiss and distortion in all
three modes. The surround version presents the dialog
in the center with the score surrounding. Clean and
clear with music pleasing and appropriate for a film
of this genre. Thanks to Synapse for providing the isolated
musical score. A nice feature.


Menus

Basic with music fill. Scene selection with titles from
the novel. Extras.


Extras

Liner notes from Stephen R. Bissette, Cast and crew
filmographies, Trailers of Camille 2000, Therese and
Isabelle, The Lickerish Quartet, Carmen and Baby; all
in non-anamorphic (letterbox) format.


Final Thoughts

Metzger, known for his other works such as Score
and The Opening of Misty Beethoven has created a piece
argued by some to be the best erotic film ever made.
If you are not easily shocked and would like to see
the best of genre the 1970's had to offer, then you
should view this one. But note, send the kids out to
play because the scenes of explicit sexual behavior
is for mature viewers only. The disc supports parental
lock, whew!


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