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Liberty in Restraint
Liberty in Restraint
Actors: Noel Graydon, Puck, Nikki, John Elliott, Mistress Felina
Director: Michael Ney
R     2008     1hr 30min

As an aspiring photographer the clandestine world of bondage and discipline, dominance-submission, sado-masochism, fetish fashion and alternative sex held a powerful attraction for Noel Graydon. For five years he trained ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Noel Graydon, Puck, Nikki, John Elliott, Mistress Felina
Director: Michael Ney
Creator: Barton Staggs
Studio: Sensory Image / Gallant Films / MVD
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 01/22/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2007
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 10
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Eye popping, jaw dropping, mind bending!
Michael Ney | Sydney, Australia | 12/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Liberty In Restraint, directed by Michael Ney, takes a tour around the controversial and forbidden world of sexual fetish in Sydney, through eyes of fine art fetish photographer Noel Graydon.

It's hard to imagine a more explosive scenario in today's Australia than the juxtaposing of a sexual fetish tableau based on the crucifixion, with real life characters from recent scandals involving priests and children. Just such a scenario is included in his 90 min documentary, which follows art photographer Noel Graydon through the underworld of BDSM - bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism. Made with the best of motives - to illuminate the subject and help our understanding of this aspect of the human condition - the film is neither exploitative nor offensive - although some people will take offence, for all the wrong reasons - and some will find the film's graphic content extreme and shocking.

Graydon's tableau, titled Suffer the Little Children, is a satire on Ruben's religious painting, Coup de Lance, depicting the crucifixion with a soldier's long lance piercing Jesus' ribcage. Graydon subverts this image by employing a fetish motif.

Wearing body tight black latex and rope bound, Graydon takes the Jesus position on the cross, his forehead pierced by fetish needles to replicate the crown of thorns; either side of him, similar figures in latex, and an assistant dressed as a nun in a gasmask. His wife Annette is dressed as a nurse, cradling their baby girl, "representing all innocent children, and to a great extent, hope." She, too has a (child's) gasmask, symbol of the dangerous, "fearful world" we live in, says Graydon.

Graydon, a lapsed Catholic, was nevertheless angered by what he calls the "Pell / Hollingworth paedophiles in the church" scandal in 2002; "Pell accused the gay community of being what he called ungodly; not welcome in his church and certainly not receiving communion. Why do I feel perfectly comfortable to leave my child with any of my queer friends, but there's no way I'd leave her with a catholic priest." Graydon's title, Suffer the Little Children, leaves the viewer in no doubt as to what he believes that object to be.

This piece of satire adds yet another layer to a film already layered with a rich mix of personal and social exploration. It's an eye popping, jaw dropping and mind bending essay on a 'scene' that is never seen and totally misunderstood.

Illumination comes in many guises; one guy thinks he likes being trussed up because it reminds him of the feelings of comfort and being loved as a toddler "wrapped in swaddling". For a woman brought up as a strict Catholic, being restrained in a sexual context releases her from feelings of sex related guilt. For others there is catharsis, pleasure through pain, creative fulfilment - especially in the striking Japanese rope bondage work - and for some it's simply fun to play submissive / dominant sex games. We discover DV8 House and mingle with costumed participants at fetish play parties like the Hellfire Club.

All through the film we track Graydon's progress through his career and his personal life. He took his first erotic photo at age 15, but soon needed some reason for people (his subjects) to be photographed naked. When he began photographing the BDSM scene, he quickly realised that he wanted to "look from the inside out, not from the outside in".

He put down the cameras and immersed himself in BDSM even becoming a male sex worker / BDSM Master for four years. Through his life, Graydon went through some painful lows, including chronic addiction to drugs like smack and speed, and got through it with a sense of achievement, and became a devoted father and loving husband.

Tragically, Noel died of a heart attack in July 2007.

We see him at work - the moving images capturing his struggle to capture his vision in stills. Given the subject matter, there are inevitable images of naked bodies being whipped, pierced, smacked, bound tightly and elaborately in ropes and tackle. The camera never shies away from images that out of this context would be regarded as shocking. It's a kind of controlled sensual and sexual extremism, set in a context of people united by a common bond, as it were.

"Bondage and Discipline"

And these people we meet do not seem especially bizarre, unless you call Puck's bright red hair bizarre. Perhaps surprisingly, the practitioners seen here are characterised by gentleness and caring; if this seems contradictory, it's Puck (a BDSM - or Bondage and Discipline - Master who prefers the title 'assistant') who articulated the central mantra: it has to be safe, medically as well as physically. Indeed, there is surgical precision in some of the practices, such as nails hammered gently into flesh, piercing through the skin, garrotting of genitals, binding breasts into grotesque shapes and so on.

The film is a safe way for you and me to visit the pursuit of inner liberation through the restraint of bondage in the unhysterical environment created by a sincere filmmaker with a natural cinematic eye (who has sampled the forbidden delights of BDSM himself). Whether we think of Graydon's photographs are art or exploitation is irrelevant: they don't sell in porn shops, but are hung in galleries. In a way, seeing this world through Graydon's work is a filter that director Michael Ney has added to his own filtering process, which makes the film all the more interesting. And probably more accessible.

The music was composed by Barton Staggs, who also helped edit the footage. His minimalist score uses metal percussion and gongs to convey a sense of ritual. And ritual it is: every detail is ritualised, down to the details of dress - or undress. And not a pubic hair in sight.

At the New York CineKink Festival in October 2004, a 35 minute work in progress won the Best Short Documentary award.

Review written by Andrew L. Urban."