Wednesday, November 30, 2011

#471. The Image (1975)

Directed By: Radley Metzger

Starring: Rebecca Brooke, Carl Parker. Marilyn Roberts

Tag line: "Beyond the Story of O"

Trivia:  This film was also released as THE PUNISHMENT OF ANNA

The setting is Paris, the "City of Light". One night at a party, Jean (Carl Parker), a writer, finds himself drawn to a young woman named Anne (Mary Mendum), a model and the protege of fashion photographer Claire (Marilyn Roberts). Jean is entranced by the beautiful Anne, and Claire, recognizing his obsession, invites Jean to join them for drinks afterwords. During the get-together, Jean realizes the bond between Claire and Anne goes well beyond the professional, beyond even friendship. In short, Anne is Claire's sexual slave, and is completely submissive to the desires of her “master”. Claire, an old friend of Jean's, offers to share Anne with him, but is Jean ready for such an arrangement? 

The Image is an erotic film with a touch of class, and the three-way relationship that develops between its main characters is a fascinating one. The day after the party, Jean meets up with the two ladies at the Bagatelle Gardens. As they're admiring the many hundreds of rose bushes on display, Claire orders Anne to fondle one of the flowers. “She likes doing this”, Claire says to Jean, adding that “at the slightest provocation, she gets all wet”. Claire next tells Anne to pick the rose from the bush and bring it to her, despite the fact doing so is strictly forbidden. Anne hesitates, but soon complies, yet for her momentary hesitation, Claire feels Anne must be punished. The three make their way to an obscure corner of the Gardens, where Claire orders the young girl to lift her skirt (revealing to Jean the fact she isn't wearing any underwear). Claire scratches Anne's thigh with a thorn from the stem of the rose, then gently kisses the wound, as if to soothe it. For his part, Jean can only watch, unsure what to make of this strange relationship, and far too excited by it to all to simply walk away. From that point on, the three are nearly inseparable. 

The Image has its share of hardcore sexuality (with scenes as explicit as any you'd find in a XXX film), and contains moments of humiliation (at the Gardens, just after the incident with the rose, Claire orders Anne to kneel down and urinate, which she does as Jean looks on) and even bondage (there's an extended sequence in a room Claire calls her “Gothic Chamber”, complete with whips and instruments of torture, that's pretty tough to watch). Yet it's all presented with sophistication and elegance, and as tastefully as a story of this nature could possibly be. This, combined with stunning cinematography that shows Paris in all its glory, carries The Image a step above the usual erotic fare.

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