Review by Troy
= Highest Rating
(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.
DVD release of The Image represents
the film's debut on R1 DVD. Fully uncut and uncensored, the lovingly
restored image is presented in the 1.78 aspect ratio and is enhanced
for widescreen TVs. The print source is in excellent shape, though
as noted in the liner notes there is a peculiar flaw in which
the image blurs for a few seconds about 18 minutes into the film;
this problem exists in the original negative, however, and is
not a flaw of the transfer. The DVD also presents three different
audio tracks: the original mono track, a newly mixed 2.0 surround
track, and an isolated score track. The mono track sounds crisp
and clear, while the newly mixed track shows off the score a bit
better; as usual with these remixes, your status as a "purist"
will determine your use for the new track.
Extras include excellent liner notes by Stephen
R. Bissette and trailers for other Metzger films, including The
Liquorish Quartet and Camille 2000.
On June 14, 2011 Synapse is releasing a new, remastered edition
of The Image on both DVD and Blu-ray.