- Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: French LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/24-bit)
- Subtitles: English
- Subtitles Color: White
- Region: B (Region-Locked)
- Certification: 18
- Run Time: 113 Mins.
- Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
- Studio: BFI
- Blu-ray Release Date: November 5, 2012
- RRP: £19.99
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
The BFI continue their definitive series of filmmaker Barbet Schroeder’s early works with this release of the controversial Maîtresse (Mistress). Perhaps in keeping with Schroeder’s previous work in films like More, what meets the eye with Maîtresse is often only the window dressing of what is really going on once one dives into the psychological depths of the film. On the surface, it is a film that explores the prurient world of sadomasochism, but look closely and one sees a film that is really more complex, more about the mundane than about the fringes of sexual exploration than we might imagine.
The petty thief Olivier (Gérard Depardieu) meets the leather-clad Parisian Dominatrix Arianne (Bulle Ogier) after inadvertently breaking into her apartment and becomes fascinated with her and her world. Fascination slowly turns into love for both Olivier and Arianne, and Olivier is forced to confront his small-minded views on sexuality and perversion. However, the relationship is strained when Olivier becomes obsesses with a mystery man in Arianne’s life, Gautier (Holger Lowenadler).
While there are certainly scenes of graphic sadism and masochism portrayed in the film, the deeper sense of the story of Maîtresse is an exploration of the root of the struggle for power on the whole. The S&M acts as a metaphor for the push and pull relationship between Arianne and Olivier as the two struggle within their own rather normal domesticity for dominance. Who will drive the car? Who will earn the money? Olivier’s struggle against his rising sense of jealousy toward Arianne’s clientele and, ultimately, Gautier, who will be the object responsible for causing Olivier to insert the only real violence into the relationship between himself and Arianne.
We get a sense from Maîtresse, once again, of Schroeder pushing against the boundaries of social mores and tackling the darker side of issues not easily touched upon, but with less Hollywood glitz that we would eventually see in films like Single White Female. With films like Maîtresse, we see less of the “free love” of the 1960s anything goes, it’s all right mentality, and more of a turning inward to question what it all means when you do, in fact, run up against that inevitable boundary that “freedom” grants. What’s the down side? Is there one? Maîtresse is a film that is less about the overtly sexual masochism and more about the masochistic struggle for peaceful domestic union.
This new transfer of Maîtresse was supervised and approved by director Barbet Schroeder. ‘The film was transferred to high definition from the original 35mm interpositive. It was restored using HD-DVNR and MTI restoration systems, removing dirt, scratches, and debris, repairing damaged frames and improving stability issues.‘
This is a fine transfer of Maîtresse to Blu-ray, in an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement, that shows lots of texture, a nice layer of grain with little in the way of noise and strong contrast. There is hardly nay source damage to complain about, flesh tones are natural, and shadow details are nicely extended.
The audio was transferred form the original magnetic tracks and appears in a French LPCM 2.0 mono (48kHz/24-bit) mix. It’s quite clean, although some hiss can still be heard. There’s little clipping and a good amount of dynamic range.
The supplements offer great in-depth explorations of the film from experts and Schroeder, both on disc and in the lavish illustrated booklet.
- Domestic Masochism: Barbette Schroeder’s Maîtresse (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:28:13) – Experts Dr. Patricia MacCormack and Edward Lamberti discuss the history of Maîtresse and its ratings history with the BBFC, its place in film history and culture on the whole, while analyzing key scenes from the film.
- More (1.66:1; 1080p/24)
- The Valley (Obscured by Clouds) (1.78:1; 1080p/24)
- Maîtresse (1.66:1; 1080p/24)
- Booklet: Illustrated booklet featuring a newly commissioned essay by Dr. Patricia MacCormack, a new essay by Barbet Schroeder, and an original essay, Maîtresse and the BBFC, by Craig Lapper, plus actor bios, film credits and information on the transfer.
The Definitive Word
In the UK, Maîtresse had a long history with the BBFC, initially submitted in 1976 and rejected, submitted again in 1980 and granted an X rating with many edits, the film would be submitted again and rated. Finally, the film sees release in the UK, uncut, with an “18” certificate in a splendid edition from the BFI. You’ll be surprisingly shocked at how mostly timid it actually is, save for one or two scenes.
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