I decided to review three movies from the 1970s
which seem almost obscure to the current 18-34 US
Since about the 1990s pop culture in the English speaking
world has shown kink in different ways like song
(Rhianna & Britney Spears) and the cinema (Exit to Eden
& Fifty Shades of Grey).
OK I’m a cynic but I feel these seem campy, silly or off the mark.
(Photo Credit Bizarre Magazine)
During the 1970s S&M was still largely taboo and in the closet.
The films I’ve selected are three of my favorites and what I
believe are more cerebral and realistic in their portrayals of the
The three films are The Night Porter (USA/Italy 1974), Maitresse
(France 1975) and In The Realm of the Senses (France/Japan 1976).
Note: Maitresse was the very first film I ever saw with an S&M
oriented story line.
THE NIGHT PORTER
Directed by Liliana Cavani
Max Aldofer (Dirk Bogarde) is a former SS concentration camp guard
living a low profile existence in 1957 Vienna as a janitor. While working
as a guard during the war he enjoyed filming home movies and photographing
various inmates. One of the inmates was Lucia Atherton (Charlotte Rampling)
with whom he had a sexual and sadomasochistic relationship. Much of the
film is told in flashback.
As fate would have it the two lovers meet again and the relationship
as such picks up where it left off after Lucia’s husband leaves town on business
very much like the Stockholm Syndrome. Her husband is an
American orchestra conductor.
Max is the leader of a group of fellow former Nazis hiding their pasts.
One highly erotic scene shows Lucia at a party with
SS officers. She sings Marlene Dietrich’s “If I Could Make a Wish” in German
while she is dancing wearing a black SS dress cap, men’s slacks with suspenders
and without a bra. The officers are also treated to a slender gay prisoner
dancing for them wearing only a loin cloth and nylon skull cap.
Another shows the couple at the opera. While watching the show
Lucia has a flashback of watching a man and woman copulating on a
bed while she is watching from her own bad clad in striped pajamas.
Max is wanted to go on trial for war crimes but refuses thinking it’s a
waste of time. He confides in a former collaborator of his clandestine
affair that he murders later to keep quiet about his past and current
Since Max won’t cooperate with his comrades they attempt to
starve him and Lucia and keep them prisoners in his apartment.
Somehow they escape and while walking at dawn on a bridge
they are being followed and don’t know about it.
Two shots ring out and both fall to their deaths like a modern
Directed by Barbet Schroeder
Olivier (Gerard Depardieu) is a petty crook living in Paris.
One day he meets a women named Ariane (Bulle Ogier) is need of plumbing.
He goes to the lower floor of her apartment and discovers
her dungeon. This opens him up to a world previously
unknown to him. For Olivier it’s love at first sight.
She educates him on her work as a dominatrix and the
roles of dominance and submission in relationships.
While there is no S&M activity between them she
is clearly the dominant one between them.
In one scene a body double who is an actual pro domme
is seen piercing a man’s nipple while he’s secured in
a dental chair.
Another scene shows a sub dressed as a maid worshiping
Ariane wearing black leather ankle boots.
When Olivier discovers the dungeon he walks by
a man in a cage with a collar and leash but does not
Bulle Ogier is a natural blonde but can be seen
wearing a brunette wig which sometimes wears
in the kink scenes.
Other graphic scenes include a sub on a stretcher rack
(all subs in the movie are men). There is one where
two men are walking back and forth in front of their
mistress as she gives orders but sits most of the
time arms crossed over her breast. The two subs
are in drag too.
Another scene shows a high profile client in a cage
with his head sticking out of the top and the slave
is embarrassed to be caught.
There is an intense whipping as welts appear on
the back of a masochist who is wearing a black
leather hood. The punishment is administered with
a bamboo stick.
There is also a scene of suspension and immobilization.
In the movie like all relationships this couple has it’s
ups and downs. At one point Ariane breaks and says
she can’t be a domina anymore but soon reconciles.
Olivier and Ariane do have a fight and she tells him
it’s over; but they realize they are deeply in love and
in the end go away for a while to the country.
Barbet Schroeder the Iranian born Swiss director
is also married to Bulle Ogier and they also have
IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES
Directed by Nagisa Oshima
This film is set in 1935 Tokyo as war
is looming. There are scenes of soldiers
marching amidst rising sun flags.
Sada Abe (Eiko Matsuda) is a former prostitute
now working as a maid in the same hotel.
She is also a part time geisha girl. She has an
affair with the proprietor Tatsuya Fuji
(Kichizo Ishida) after he molests her.
The film features both hard core and soft core scenes.
They become infatuated with each other and
experiment with their sexuality.
One scene shows him getting a blowjob while smoking
a cigarette. He is also heavily into erotic asphyxation.
She dabbles in knife and edge play and he gets intrigued
by this and he develops a liking for it.
Tatsuya is also a married man and this angers Sada as she
wants him all to herself. He is also a shameless player
as many of the other female employees cater to his
whims be in sexual or just meeting his personal needs.
Many of the other female employees are dressed as geisha girls.
One scene the viewer cannot tell if Sada is stroking him
or giving a prostate massage.
In one scene Tatsuya pushes an egg into Sada’s vulva.
In the end Sada kills him by strangulation. She severs his
penis and spatters his blood on the walls.
The film met with great controversy upon it’s release due
to the content. It was banned in Belgium upon release but
later it was allowed to be screened. It was banned in Israel
and in some Canadian provinces. It was released under
limited conditions in the United Kingdom until the 1990s.
There was controversy in Portugal when it aired on television
Finally due to Japanese censorship laws at the time
it was credited as a French production to get around this.
Today when it is screened in Japan the hardcore sex scenes
and some nudity are blurred or framed differently.
Photo credit: Bizarre Magazine