ⓘ Maîtresse


ⓘ Maitresse

Maitresse is a 1975 French film directed by Barbet Schroeder, starring Bulle Ogier and, in one of his earliest leading roles, Gerard Depardieu. The film provoked controversy in the United Kingdom and the United States because of its graphic depictions of sado-masochism.


1. Plot

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 Arianes 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.


2. Cast

  • Nathalie Keryan: Lucienne
  • Bulle Ogier: Ariane
  • Tony Taffin: Emile
  • Roland Bertin: Man in Cage
  • Andre Rouyer: Mario
  • Holger Lowenadler: Gautier
  • Gerard Depardieu: Olivier

3. Release in the United Kingdom

Maitresse 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 clients 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, Maitresse 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.