Marquis de Sade’s Justine is a film I first watched in college. I was expecting something entirely different, but it’s the movie that got me into watching by Jess Franco.
What is Justine?
Justine is a film about the eroticization of power dynamics, with Justine herself serving as both victim and aggressor in various sexual scenarios. The film is unapologetically explicit, featuring scenes of bondage, sadomasochism, and other BDSM-related themes. However, it also explores deeper themes of identity, agency, and the blurred lines between pleasure and pain.
One of the most striking aspects of Justine is its unconventional and controversial writing style. The film is loosely based on the 1791 novel Justine, or The Misfortunes of Virtue by the Marquis de Sade, a work known for its highly erotic and often disturbing content. Franco takes this source material and transforms it into a hallucinatory and surreal cinematic experience, punctuated by moments of extreme violence and sexuality.
In terms of its contributions to cult European cinema, Justine stands out as a film that challenges conventional notions of storytelling and genre. Franco’s approach to the material is highly stylized and experimental, with a fractured narrative structure and frequent breaks from traditional continuity. This creates a sense of disorientation and unreality that is both unsettling and captivating.
The European Erotic Cinema Tradition continues!
Justine also represents a continuation of the long tradition of European erotic cinema, which has often been associated with avant-garde and underground filmmaking. The film features a cast of familiar faces from the world of cult cinema, including the iconic actor Klaus Kinski, who brings his signature intensity and unpredictability to the role of a sadistic priest.
Despite its controversial subject matter, Justine is a film that deserves to be taken seriously as a work of art. Franco’s use of dreamlike imagery and unconventional storytelling techniques elevates the material beyond mere exploitation, creating a film that is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally affecting.
One of the most impressive aspects of Justine is the way it manages to convey complex ideas and themes through its visual language. Franco’s use of color, lighting, and composition creates a surreal and otherworldly atmosphere that mirrors Justine’s own internal struggles. The film is also notable for its use of music, with a haunting and evocative score that heightens the film’s emotional impact.
Franco was never better than with Justine.
Justine is a film that pushes the boundaries of both storytelling and genre, and stands as a testament to the power of European erotic cinema. Its controversial subject matter and unconventional style may not be to everyone’s taste, but for those willing to take the plunge, the film offers a unique and unforgettable cinematic experience. Franco’s masterful direction, combined with the incredible performances of its cast, make Justine a film that is not to be missed.
How does Justine look in 4K UHD?
Blue Underground brings the film to 4K UHD with a new audio commentary, interviews and the shorter US cut in HD. Some of the special features are ported over from the two-disc Blu-ray that I want to say hit shelves in 2015.
The special features are pretty neat with a new commentary track, interviews and the such. It’s pretty comparable to the Eugenie 4K UHD release. It’s the first time I saw the US cut aka Deadly Sanctuary and I think it works slightly better.
The 2160p transfer plays dark at times, but it holds true to the age of the film. The DTS-HD 1.0 mono mix is true to the film’s age as well. Not everything gets an Atmos track. That being said, I know that watching this movie is going to get everyone to roll out on a Marquis de Sade kick. Just watch the movie and get an idea of when adult films were made for smart audiences.