Blue Underground presents Marquis de Sade's Justine on Blu-ray and 4K

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The 1969 Jess Franco film Marquis de Sade's Justine is a costume drama wrapped in a sexploitation package that leaves the viewer lost at times while trying to follow multiple different side stories, with multiple characters that do not hold the audience’s attention long enough to care to see the outcome of their tales due to the story going in all different directions at once.

The main story follows the tale of a young girl named Justine (Romina Power), who is exiled from a convent with only the clothes on her back and a small handful of money to get by. It’s a “babe in the woods” story that quickly veers off the path into multiple side stories, all of which have Justine being tortured mentally and physically.

Trying to keep track of so many different characters and so many different aspects of Justine’s journey almost becomes a chore for the viewer to endure. The audience will quickly become bored with one story when it switches to another tale of torture. Ultimately as a viewer you forget about the past stories until the characters appear later on to conclude their arcs, but by then you do not care, because we are already past that stage and onto a different story wilder and more insane then the last.

Being a Klaus Kinski fan, I was looking forward to Franco’s casting of Kinski as De Sade, only to be let down. Kinski is only used in cut-away shots of him penning the story, and has no written or spoken dialogue in the film whatsoever. Even though Kinski does his best, in his own style of acting, to pantomime his expressions, this is one film any Kinski fan could feel was a missed opportunity by Franco to make this another legendary Kinski performance. Sadly, it falls flat with no feeling at all.

The one crowning performance of the film is made by the character of Antonin, a cult like leader of a spiritual sect of men played by Jack Palance. His portrayal of the character is the only thing worth watching in the entire film, and after viewing the special features on the disc, you discover that Palance was drinking heavily during his two-day shoot, causing an over-the-top performance that is worthy of any cinephiles attention.

I suggest purchasing this disc for the features alone:

  • Ultra HD Blu-ray (2160p) and HD Blu-ray (1080p) Widescreen 1.66:1 feature presentation
  • Audio: 1.0 DTS-HD MA (English)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Francais, Espanol
  • NEW! Audio Commentary with Film Historians Nathaniel Thompson and Troy Howarth
  • The Perils and Pleasures of Justine - Interviews with Director Jess Franco and Writer/Producer Harry Alan Towers
  • Stephen Thrower on JUSTINE - Interview with the author of “Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco”
  • NEW! On Set with Jess – Interview with Star Rosalba Neri
  • French Trailer
  • NEWLY EXPANDED! Poster & Still Gallery
  • NEW! DEADLY SANCTUARY – The shorter U.S. version in High Definition (96 Mins.)

A film marketed as a big budget costume epic, boasting the star power of Kinski and Palance, packed with the traditional sexploitation sleaze of that era, turned out to be tragically un-sleazy and at times downright boring to watch. Franco missed the mark with this one.

1.5 / 5.0