"Radley METZGER's THE IMAGE (also known under the more exploitative title THE PUNISHMENT OF ANNE) is without doubt not everybody's cup of tea. Based on an infamous French bestseller this movie is shocking in its relentless depiction of a weird triangle relationship between a mature woman, her submissive young girl friend and a curious author.
Please note: If you feel uneasy when you see graphic sex, humiliation, degradation, bondage, whipping and urination, then do not watch this film. On the other hand, this is no raincoat brigade movie. Instead it is a masterly crafted piece of art with outstanding cinematography, a beautiful score and fine actors (Yes, everybody here can act better than most mainstream academy award winners.)
Regrettably the rough SM scenes could easily distract from or obscure the motivation of the characters.
THE IMAGE has an unusual book-like structure with chapters (no, I'm not refering to the DVD chapters). According to the liner notes the film is very faithful to its literary source. I liked the social setting of the film - it takes places among educated, eloquent and wealthy jet set people. And the film makes good use of its nice Paris locations. I found THE IMAGE very compelling viewing. I just didn't like the fitting room scene too much, because it seemed like a rather cliche porn situation to me.
Some words about the DVD: SYNAPSE did a real great job with the transfer. One can't praise the picture quality high enough. The uncut film is presented widescreen.
Unfortunately there aren't too many extras: the director's filmography, an isolated score and five trailers of Radley METZGER movies: SCORE, THE LICKERISH QUARTET, CAMILLE 2000, THERESE AND ISABELLE and CARMEN BABY. Kudos to Stephen R. BISSETTE for his insightful liner notes. I recommend to read it before you watch the movie, because it really enhances your understanding of the film despite some spoilers."
Manfred Zeichmann | 11/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the tradition of "The Story of O" and "Emmanuel"...this Radley Metzger 1975 classic is stupendous!
Beautifully filmed, with minimum fanfare, it gets straight to the point within minutes of you watching it. And that point is not pornographic...but rather sensual and erotic. The total submission of the young star, Anne, played by Mary Mendum, to her older dominatrix girlfriend Claire and her boyfriend Jean, is "a middle aged couple's dream come true". If you want your wife or girlfriend to be dripping with anticipation...turn the lights down and have her watch this film, in its entirety and I'm certain any woman will be drawn in to its lusty presentation! That being said...this is not a film for group viewing by your neighbors next door...unless????
Unlike the video taped, bluntly pornographic XXX movies of today... 1975's "The Image" was filmed, in a way when showing just enough, was good enough to be shown. Although there are some shocking scenes of oral sex between the stars, this film mostly deals with sexual tension and lustful sentiments, inside anyone (male or female) who has ever "lusted" after a youthful girl, strictly to inflict decipline, pain and pleasure upon her. Five stars is not high enough of a rating for this "must have in your erotic collection masterpiece!" I would have always enjoyed more violent sex and torture scenes, however, given what's being produced these days....this film clearly stands out as a "classic of all time" proportions!"
Excellent Treatment of Believable Submission
B. Marold | Bethlehem, PA United States | 09/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"`The Story of O' directed by Just Jaeckin and `The Image' directed by Radley Metzger are both based on famous and critically well received French erotic novels written, I believe, in the 1960s by Pauline Reage (a pseudonym) and Jean de Berg respectively. In turn, the two movies are both considered masterpieces of erotic moviemaking. Yet the latter is clearly better than the former, in spite of the fact that the two books are, to my mind, roughly equal in quality. I may even believe that `The Story of O' is superior as a novel to de Berg's fiction.
While both are of a very high quality, they approach roughly the same subject in very different ways. In `The Story of O', everything is seen and told through the eyes of the submissive, `O'. In `The Image', everything is seen through the eyes of the bystander become dominant, Jean. That does not mean that `O' can tell us nothing of the dominant psychology or `Image' tell us nothing of the submissive psychology. In fact, it is one of the strengths of `The Image' that it probably tells us more about true psychological submissiveness than the movie, `O'.
The primary problem with `The Story of O' film is that while its source is certainly a very well constructed fantasy, the director does not hide this fact and play it as reality. This may be comparable to our not taking the confrontation between Gandalf and the Balrog at the bridge in the mines of Moria (in `Lord of the Rings') because we know this is all a fantasy. The power of great fantasies is that they allow us to totally suspend disbelief for the course of the experience. In Jaeckin's commentary, he states over and over that this is all a fantasy and was intended as such by author, Reage. But, one of Reage's great skills was to minimize the improbable aspects of the story to sustain the sense that this plot is actually being played out by real people.
The second problem for me with `The Story of O' is the fact that it did not improve on my imagination while I was reading the book. Going back to that other fantasy, `Lord of the Rings', one of its great successes is the fact that at every turn, it improved on the constructs of my imagination. The black riders, the Uruk-hai, and Shelob were all far scarier than what I read, and the reading was pretty scary. At but one scene does the film outdo my imagination.
The third problem, which the movie shares with the book, is the improbability of a woman's so easily moving her affection from one dominant to the next. The book's original ending makes great use of the chasm this reliance on a master opens at the submissive's feet. The movie squanders the great original ending in a muddle of alternatives.
`The Image' easily sidesteps the last problem by being a very simple `menage a trois'. And, while the submissive is asked to perform with outsider, Jean, she is always devoted primarily to dominant Claire. As far as improving on my imagination, I will only say that from what you think you are seeing on the screen, director Metzger is pulling no punches and Mary Mendum playing the submissive is about as convincing as I can imagine in her role, in comparison to `O''s actress, Corinne Clery, who sometimes seems to be simply working through the boredom in some scenes.
Part of the reality of `The Image' is based on the immediacy of all the settings. Like some films by Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese, where New York City is almost as much a character in the movie as the actors on the screen, several locations in Paris are important contributors to the lush, overripe feel of the film. In contrast, `The Story of O' could have as easily been filmed in Quebec or Sidney, and no one would have noticed the difference.
On the other hand, while the two films are of roughly the same lengths, `The Image' spends a lot more time conveying the relationship by showing its fruits rather than by talking about it.
Both movies are easily 1000% better than any other movie on these subjects, but `The Image' is clearly the better of the two in a very small field. "
The Punishment of Anne
WLR | Chicago, Illinois United States | 10/09/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Image, also called The Punishment of Anne is widely regarded by people on the Internet as Radley Metzger's best movie. I agree with that assessment. He is an interesting director whose characters are always intelligent people who outwardly lead normal lives in society while privately pursuing out of the ordinary sex lives, such as libertines, S&M, homosexuality, especially lesbianism, prostitution, and so on. If memory serves correctly all of his movies take place in racy locations such as Europe or South America. In other words he isn't doing Desire Under the Elms or something in a sleepy rural community. It's always in a castle, or penthouse, or mansion, or beach house, etc. All of his movies could be considered art movies that are not intended for a general audience. This particular movie involves lesbianism, S&M, humiliation, dominance/submission by well-to-do people in contemporary Paris. It is a VERY faithful adaptation of the book of the same name by Jean de Berg. A thirty something male author attends a party at a socialite's house in Paris where he encounters an old friend, a woman his own age from his upscale social class (she has a Wellesley accent by the way), who is showing off her new pet. Anne, a very beautiful young blonde woman is completely under the older woman's spell and will do anything to prove it. Our hero is then invited into their world for a series of mind games, etc. divided into episodes that take place in different locations, sometimes in public, sometimes behind closed doors over a period of weeks I believe. Like all of Metzger's movies it is very well made and very beautiful. I liked the book and the movie as well. If you are interested in this kind of subject material you'll like this movie."
Metzger at his Finest!
dekkard8 | outside the circle | 07/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Arguably the finest S/M movie ever made, Radley Metzger's 'The Image'(aka The Punishment of Anne) tells of Jean, a writer who meets an old friend, Claire, at a party and is soon drawn into her world of S/M along with her slave, Anne.
Based on the French novel 'L'image' by Jean de Berg, a nom de guerre for Catherine Robbe-Grillet, this may be Radley (Score!, Therese and Isabelle, The Opening of Misty Beethoven)Metzger's best film. Beautifully filmed and acted and very erotic.
The dvd transfer of the film is absolutely stunning. The picture is pristine and the colors leap out at you. The new stereo mix is great. The original mono track is also included. There is a Metzger filmography and a few trailers for his films included as well. Kudo's to Synapse for releasing this gem of a film and doing such a great job on it!
If your up for some primo euro-erotica at its finest, look no further!"