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THE MARQUIS DE SADE'S JUSTINE

Review by Chastity Campbell

Stars: Klaus Kinski, Mercedes McCambridge, Jack Palance, Romina Power, Maria Rohm, Akim Tamiroff
Director: Jess Franco
Audio: Dolby Digital 2 Channel Mono:  English Only
Video: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Studio: Image Entertainment
Features:  See Review
Length: 124 Minutes
Release Date:  November 5, 2002

Film ***

The story of Justine as told by the fevered eroticised mind of the Marquis de Sade (Klaus Kinski) unfolds before the viewers’ eyes like the silk petticoats of a tavern wench on payday!    It is said by some that writer/director Jess Franco’s works are best viewed after a few shots of the good stuff.   Yes, something a tad bit stronger than Mt. Dew probably would have helped to prepare me a bit better…next time I’ll buy a Code Red!

Justine (Romina Power) and her sister Juliette are made to leave the convent where they are studying when their father has to declare bankruptcy.  Cast out upon the world, Juliette chooses the road of lust and depravity and winds up rewarded well for her misguided lifestyle.   Justine, however, chooses the moral high ground and sets off on her straight and narrow path.  Unfortunately, along the way, she gets pulled unwillingly into a life filled with bondage, branding, lesbians, and wicked Monks.   One of those Monks is Brother Antonin, an especially lecherous and sadistic man played by Jack Palance.   Palance has never been one of my favorite actors, but he did an impressive job as the wayward holy man.   He seemed to slip into the role of Antonin without any blurring between character and actor.  I believe this effect is what most actors strive for throughout their careers…realism!

Poor innocent Justine ends up riding a physical and emotional roller coaster that would make the hardest of hardcore Madames blush.   This movie weaves a story that takes a drastic turn from traditional stories of good vs. bad.   Most movies made during this time period always showed good triumphing over evil, however, in the Marquis De Sade’s Justine, the evil and wicked are revered and rewarded while the innocent and beautiful are punished and made to suffer.   

The perverse and often sadistic world this movie lives in is brought vividly to life by director Jess Franco.   The costumes and colors all help to enrich the sexual depravity spread out lavishly for fans of this genre. 

If your unfamiliar with Franco’s works this movie would be a wonderful way for you to get acquainted with him and this genre, because it is an eye opening, jaw dropping experience that will help to broaden your movie horizons.

Video ***

The Marquis de Sade’s Justine is an absolutely wonderful digital transfer.   This 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen DVD captures all the sadistically dark tones and vivid reds so perfectly, you would never know this movie was originally released in the late 60s!  I always worry when older movies are transferred into a digital format, but there’s no need to worry with this one because Image provides us with a very crisp and clear transfer that fans of this genre are going to love!  There are a couple of places toward the end of the movie where it shows it’s age unfortunately, but that doesn’t take away from the beautiful overall production.

Audio **

The audio quality of this DVD is quite good considering the dialogue for it seemed as though it was dubbed and added in after the filming was completed.  The audio itself was free from any type of noise or hissing that generally accompanies older movies.   The music was a bit overwhelming at times, but overall it was a nice blend.  

Features ***

This DVD, despite its age, had a nice little bag of extras to go a long with the movie!

“The Perils And Pleasures Of Justine” is a very nice 20, minute interview, featuring co-writer/director Jess Franco and producer Harry Alan Towers.   Through their eyes, you get a whole new perspective on the making of this movie and what it meant to them.  There are a couple of movie trailers, a still gallery chock full of extra pix of the cast, as well as a Jess Franco biography and filmography.   Some additional liner notes by Tim Lucas help to round out the extra features. 

Summary:

This was my first outing with Mr. Franco and a movie from this type of genre.  It was a very interesting story and full to the brim with little tidbits to tantalize and titillate even the most doubtful of movie lovers.   If you’re looking to chain yourself to the couch for the evening and enjoy a sinfully good movie, then here’s your ticket to ride…just push play!