The Piano Teacher: Stigmatising BDSM In the name of art

The Piano Teacher: Stigmatising BDSM.

We like well written, pithy reviews.

It’s a common place now that you can’t do books or films about sex that the mainstream does not approve of without suggesting that those involved have some deep seated psychological problem. Think ‘Looking For Mr Goodbar’. Or ‘9 1/2 Weeks’. Of ‘Fifty Shades of Shite’.

It’s why Jem’s oft expressed desire to see a decent cinematic version of Story of O will never come true, we fear.

A good version of Story of O brought to the modern day wouldn’t be soft focus, or dreamy, or filmed in that odd way that suggests the cameraman and director were addicted to Mogadon and super slo-mos of things that don’t matter.

It would be fast paced, jittery, and ultra sharply lit. O’s journey would begin at dinner in the Paris Ritz. She would look like the fashionable photographer she is. While she sips spring water we’d see one of her dinner companiosn slipping to the toilet for a quick line of coke.

She would leave on the arm of her lover. The paparazzi would look away, and try and snap the minor celebs leaving behind her. The car would be a people carrier, not a limo, with taxi plates.  Her lover would be attentive, and cool.  Kylie would be playing on the stereo, or maybe some suitably retro Grace Jones, to make her smile and remember that her lover has catholic tastes. Her underwear would be cut off as the car sped through the Pont ‘dAlma tunnel. She would be delivered to Roissy; not a chateau, but a collection of loft apartments, nondescript from the outside but precisely beautiful inside. For her first whipping in front of the men she would be suspended from a ceiling in the penthouse lounge, with views across Paris from the floor to ceiling windows….

You get the picture?

At least half the film would not be about O and Rene, but about O the photographer. You know, the bits in the book that the dirty old men skip through. It wouldn’t be filler, it would be what it is in the book, a feminist romance, a genuine exploration of how a woman balances her desires, her life, her artistic urge and her wish to be at peace.

You probably get the idea now why we fear that this marvellous film, razor sharp and beautiful to look at will never get made.

If we had the money we’d make three such movies. One would be the Story of O. The other two would be more down to earth, less high art and high fashion, more rooted in the world we live in. It would be wrong though not to pay proper homage to a great book of the twentieth century in twenty first century style.

Pretending that BDSM is only a function of some greater psychological disturbance is exploitative, tacky, and foolish. More though, it means that those who have an understanding of BDSM will avoid the movie, leaving it to the ghouls, the voyeurs and the dirty old men.

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