Joe Bob Briggs

Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, TX

"De Sade is said to be a pretty tepid affair, and ran on the USA channel mostly uncut a few years ago. De Sade's myth has appealed to filmmakers more than his writings or life.

"Porno makers have been quick to capitalize on the French libertine's scandalous reputation with films bearing dubious relationships to his works. These titles include Philosophy in the Boudoir, Monsieur de Sade and even, supposedly, an entire series of 'de Sade' videos!

"In addition to the surprisingly mild Justine (known in the United States as Deadly Sanctuary), Jesus Franco made some pornographic films allegedly inspired by de Sade, including Eugenie--The Story of Her Journey Into Perversion (1970) and De Sade 2000 (1982)--both of which are probably of more interest to Franco completists (God help us if there are such people) than to de Sade enthusiasts.

"Probably the filmmaker with the most serious interest in de Sade was Luis Bunuel. In his autobiography, My Last Sigh, Bunuel recounts the enormous impact de Sade's writings had on him at an early age.

"L'Age d'or--The Golden Age--(1930) ends with a short sequence inspired by de Sade's The 120 Days of Sodom. Bunuel actually managed to make the story more scandalous by making one of de Sade's debauched victimizers resemble Jesus Christ.

"In Bunuel's The Milky Way (1970), the Marquis himself is shown torturing a young woman, presumably de Sade's much put-upon Justine. Bunuel claimed to be a follower of de Sade all his life.

"Besides Bunuel, one of the few filmmakers to seriously approach de Sade was the controversial Marxist critic-poet-novelist-director Pier Paolo Pasolini, whose Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom (1975) is frequently cited as one of the most disgusting films ever."

Copyright 1995 by Joe Bob Briggs. Distributed by NYT Special Features/Syndication Sales.

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