1971-1980CultEroticaRadley MetzgerUSA

Radley Metzger – The Image AKA The Punishment of Anne (1975)

Jean (Carl Parker) rekindles his relationship with the mysterious Claire (Marilyn Roberts), and the latter involves her curiously submissive “companion,” Anne (Mary Mendum), in the mix. Together, they explore the boundaries of sexuality in a series of S & M tinged fantasies…

Often touted as one of the finest erotic films ever made, The Image blends beautiful cinematography, skillful editing and douses of legitimately “hot” action in a way that is still fetching and surprising. However, this no playful softcore romp — the action crosses over into hardcore territory (graphic fellatio) and the narrative attempts a serious consideration of sex and its repercussions. In essence, Jean represents the male spectator of pornography — he fulfills the “ultimate male fantasy” of participating in a ménage a trois style relationship with two women, one of whom he is able to humiliate as much as he pleases. It is therefore interesting that his fantasy crumbles when he dares to cross the line of actual intimacy, represented by a kiss he gives Anne; in this (at times violent) world of roleplaying fantasies and sexual domination, emotion has no place. Thus, the film serves as a commentary on sex without emotion — it is less a condemnation of sadomasochistic fantasies than a critique of people who allow themselves to be dominated by selfish whims and desires.

In this regard, one is reminded of Mario Bava’s The Whip And The Body (1963), in which the abuse of Nevenka (Dahlia Lavi) by Kurt (Christopher Lee) not only warps her mentally but destroys him physically. Also in common with the Bava film, director Radley Metzger doesn’t shy away from eroticizing the narrative to its fullest. This is a film in which beautiful people do horrible things to each other in beautiful surroundings, and Metzger allows their mutual abuse to unfold in erotic detail. The end result is challenging and at times disturbing, thus elevating it beyond the parameters of a simple-minded sex film.

Though far from perfect — the dialogue is at times rather stilted, the voice-over narration feels forced, the pacing is rather languid, and Parker’s performance lacks spark and dimension — The Image is a fascinating work that stimulates both sexually and intellectually.

1.84GB | 1h 32m | 1024×562 | mkv



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