|Directed by||Barbet Schroeder|
|Produced by||Pierre Andrieux|
|Written by||Barbet Schroeder
|Music by||Carlos d'Alessio|
Maîtresse ("mistress" or "teacher", in French) is a 1975 French film directed by Barbet Schroeder, starring Bulle Ogier and, in one of his earliest leading roles, Gérard Depardieu. The film provoked controversy in the United Kingdom and the United States because of its graphic depictions of sado-masochism.
Olivier (Depardieu) is a small-time crook. He and a friend happen to meet a woman, Ariane (Ogier) whose plumbing needs to be fixed. They fix the pipes and learn that the landlord downstairs is away. They take the opportunity to burgle him. However they discover that in fact downstairs Ariane has a torture chamber—she is a professional dominatrix. At Ariane's request, Olivier assists her with her work and slowly becomes obsessed with her, but struggles with her sado-masochistic activities. Olivier tries to understand and take control of Ariane, whom he believes frightened in her job; however, as their love blossoms, their natural roles of dominant and submissive cannot be overcome.
Release in the United Kingdom
Maîtresse was first submitted to the British Board of Film Classification in 1976. Examiners' reports agreed that the film was well made and not exploitative, but under their censorship standards of the time it had to be refused a certificate: "the actual scenes of fetishism are miles in excess of anything we have ever passed in this field". This meant that it could not be shown in a public cinema, but in 1980, it was given showings in private clubs and subsequently re-examined, and in February 1981 was granted an X certificate in a cut version. To gain the certificate, a total of 4 minutes and 47 seconds' footage was removed from three scenes, most notably the scene in which Ariane nails a client's penis to a plank of wood, an act that was not simulated (and was not performed onscreen by Bulle Ogier). In 2003, the film was submitted for a third time, and was passed for an 18 certificate with all previous cuts waived.
In November 2012, Maîtresse was released in a new Blu-ray Disc/DVD dual-format edition by the BFI, its first appearance on Blu-ray Disc.
The film was rated X in the United States.
- Sadism and masochism in fiction
- BDSM in culture and media
- Dominatrix (dominatrices in popular culture)
- BBFC examiners' report, 14 October 1976, PDF included on BFI Maîtresse DVD.
- Bulle Ogier interview, Films Illustrated magazine, October 1980.
- Maîtresse at the Internet Movie Database
- Maîtresse at Rotten Tomatoes
- Maîtresse at AllMovie
- Criterion Collection essay by Elliott Stein
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