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A young woman is writing a series of love letters, telling her lover the story of O, for his entertainment, but also, it seems, as a challenge. O is a fashion photographer, who falls for Rene, a wealthy man who proceeds to take her to the manor of Sir Stephen, where for several weeks, along with other women, she is enslaved in bondage and subject to torture, humiliation, and sexual assault at the hands of Sir Stephen, Rene, and their friends. After a time, Rene takes her back to her old life where she remains in love with him and has learned that when in love, "you are not free at all." Written by
Despite the label of "TV Series", I have never seen proof of this one ever being shown on television; more likely, it's a ten-part straight-to-VHS/later five-part DVD feature. Any which way, this is another version of Pauline Reage's erotic BDSM-themed literary classic, as previously seen in Just Jaeckin's hugely successful 1975 adaptation (starring Corinne Clery). One of the producers of that film, Éric Rochat, also directed a 1984 sequel of sorts, which has little to do with the original. It is again Rochat (under the alias of Ron Williams), who directed this (circa) 1992 version. Exact details of origin seems to differ, but it's shot in Brazil in the early 90s, where Rochat had previously made The Fifth Monkey/O Quinto Macaco for Menahem Golan, an entirely different story, starring Ben Kingsley.
This version is quite an ambitious curiosity, as Rochat, a self-confessed O-fanatic, sets off to deal with the entire novel as closely as it is possible. However, as the film is soft-core, quite a bit has to be implied rather than shown (solved, sometimes, through strategically placed objects in front of the "naughty bits"). The entire cast is put together from local Brazilian talent (many from the "telenovela" world, it seems). Many of them are required to spend most/all of their on-screen time in advanced stages of undress and/or compromising situations. While the film/series never has been available in Brazil, it has enjoyed and still is enjoying healthy sales in many parts of the world. For example, it is still a best-seller in German-speaking territories.
The actors are doing a decent job, despite everyone being rather woodenly dubbed, and Claudia Cepeda is good in the lead. The film is clearly low-budget and the cinematography is a bit flat, but significant attention has been given to location, sets and costumes. Sometimes it goes a bit over the top, but one can live with it. My favorite part is the episode at Anne-Marie's all-female estate Samois, where Rochat presents a hedonistic haven of submissive elegance. Jacqueline Sperandio plays Anne-Marie with a touch of Charlotte Rampling (who indeed was considered for the '75 version).Very intriguing. The women are all attractive without necessarily looking like your standard model type; here they come in different shapes and colors. A bit distracting is the fact that many of them have very obvious tan-lines, something that does not go well at all in an environment where no one ever wears swim- or underwear.
Nevertheless, The Story of O is a rare oasis of refined sado-erotica in its field. No dungeon setting, no campy dominatrix in leather boots and no one crawling around on all fours, as is all but the rule these days.
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