Histoire d'O

(The Story of O)

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

Category Erotic Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1975 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time
92:43 minutes
(not 100 minutes as stated on packaging) 
Other Extras Filmographies - Cast & Crew
Menu Audio and Animation
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 4 Director Just Jaeckin

Force Video
Starring Corrine Clery
Udo Kier 
Anthony Steel
Jean Gaven
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music -

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s) 
English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio ??1.85:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or
After Credits

Plot Synopsis

    The packaging proudly proclaims "The Erotic Classic". Certainly this seems to be of those fabled French soft core porn films of the seventies, along with the likes of Emmanuelle. I have to confess however that my knowledge of such films is actually now extended to these two films (previously having only seen Emmanuelle). I wish that I had remained completely ignorant to be honest. Still, it makes for an unusual situation when you wander home and say that you have to review a pornographic film!
[Ed. Since this film is considered an "art" film, we opted to include it in our reviews.]

    I suppose the best way to approach this sort of film is as an art film. By doing so, one can in some respects overlook the gross problems with the film. Little things like complete lack of a story, appallingly soft definition transfers, shockingly bad edits and enough film artefacts to sink the Lusitania (just trying to be a little different). But that ultimately is like trying to convince your mother when you were a kid that you only buy Playboy to read the articles. In other words, it does not work.

    Now I will not be providing any sort of plot synopsis here, for two reasons. One, it is a French soft core porn film of the seventies, therefore it does not have one. What might laughingly be referred to as a plot is actually a flimsy frame upon which to base the usual excuse for these films, namely to get the lead "actress" as naked as possible as often as possible. If variations of bondage, S & M, lesbianism, menage-a-trois and so on can be added in to the mix on a regular basis, so much the better. In these aims, the film succeeds admirably. And two, who gives a rodent's rear end whether the film has a plot or not anyway, as long as number one is fulfilled adequately. And you would have to be very hard (sorry) done by not to be satisfied with the extent of the nudity, poorly simulated sex, whips, chains, branding and so on on offer here, basically from go to whoa.

    Naturally there is no actual acting ability on display here, just a variety of tasty naked bodies to tantalize. It certainly does not hurt that Corrine Clery is rather nicely constructed. Really there is little point in discussing the technical (non) merits of the film though, as they are not what the buying public buys these films for. Just enjoy whatever it is you enjoy about films such as these.

Transfer Quality


    Understand this, whatever problems there are with the DVD are the result of the inherent problems in the source material. If the source material is absolute rubbish, then the end product will be absolute rubbish. That said, this effort is mastered in Melbourne, and a somewhat inauspicious start it is too.

    The transfer is presented in a Pan and Scan format and it is not 16x9 enhanced. Whilst I am not at all sure of the original aspect ratio of the film, but given the age of the film I would presume that it would be 1.85:1 and therefore we have our first serious problem with the offering.
[Ed. Perhaps it was more likely to have been presented at 1.66:1 as a lot of European Cinema is.]

    Now apparently Chapter 2 of the "French Soft Core Porn Filmmakers Guide" says that porn films must be shot as over brightly as possible with as soft a focus as possible, so that everything comes out lacking any sort of definition whatsoever. Well at least that is what I think it must say, as I was immediately struck by how similar this transfer looked to my poor old VHS tape of Emmanuelle. Indeed, so poor in sharpness and definition is this effort that I might as well have been watching a VHS tape (which I might add is probably a lot cheaper). There is generally no depth at all to the transfer, and when the over brightness gets too much, there really is nothing at all to commend the transfer. There was one particularly bad edit at 19:52. Whilst you would be hard (sorry) pressed to notice, there does not appear to be any low level noise problems with the transfer.

    Overall the colours seemed to be quite muted and often extremely washed out by the style of the transfer. Even when the colours have some sort of body (sorry), they do not display any sort of vibrancy at all. There are certainly no problems at all with respect to oversaturation of colours in the transfer - undersaturation is a constant problem however. At 18:45 there is an especially obvious drop out in the colour. Very wishy washy stuff indeed in general.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer, although there was one stutter in the film at 76:05 which smacks of being an artefacting problem. Video artefacts were quite prevalent, especially early on in the film - mainly in the form of shimmer during the credits. This was quite noticeable and mildly distracting. There were plenty of film artefacts during the film, probably more than I was expecting, and those that were present were at times quite distracting to the film.


    After the video problems, I was hoping for better from the audio transfer. Unfortunately, it is not to be. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is quite frankly appalling.

    There are two audio tracks on this DVD, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. I listened to the 5.1 soundtrack whilst sampling the 2.0 soundtrack. Be aware that these are dubbed languages as the original soundtrack was of course done in French.

    Dialogue was reasonably clear and easy to understand.

    There were obviously audio sync problems with the disc since the soundtrack is dubbed.

    The score is apparently uncredited, which is probably a wise move since it is not much to worry about.

    Where do I start with the soundtrack problems? Well, for a 5.1 soundtrack, this almost totally lacks any use of the surround channels at all. Indeed, it is so lacking in surround presence that the 2.0 soundtrack (which may be mono tweaked into a two channel quasi-stereo) sounded as if it had a lot more presence and body (sorry). The 5.1 soundtrack is quite poorly mixed as well, with the dialogue very much recessed in the mix, thus presenting a most odd soundscape that lacks any sort of believability at all. There is no noticeable action whatsoever in the bass channel here, providing even more suggestion that this is a very bad mix indeed, as there were opportunities for such use. The only action that the subwoofer got was between 82:30 and 82:32 when there was a most annoying, and most extraneous, buzz. Adding to the situation is the fact that the soundtrack lacks any sort of detail at all, most disconcerting when the old whip is applied to bare flesh. The overall sound picture is completely false and lacking any credibility whatsoever, and frankly should not have passed quality assurance. Stick to listening to the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack - it offers less problems based upon my sampling, although it is not exactly stunning either.


    Well, there are some in the form of brief filmographies of the main cast and crew, but are we really interested?


    Rather unusually for such a featureless package, there is some rather extensive audio enhancement to the menu to go with the animation.


R4 vs R1

    It would appear that this has not yet made the release sheets in Region 1.


    Well I suppose that if the film is to your taste, nothing will stop you from forking out the $34.95 asking price. But in all honesty the entire package is a piece of utter manure that does not deserve any support. Added to the lack of quality in the DVD is a decidedly third rate packaging effort that really is not good enough at all. The worst overall DVD package that I have seen so far, and I would consider this a Hall of Shame candidate.

    The video transfer is very poor, due to poor source material.

    The audio transfer is woeful.

    The extras are hardly worth bothering with.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
30th December 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL