The Duke of Burgundy

FRIDAY NIGHT FILM

Directed by

Peter Strickland

Our mini-series of Pride-inspired Friday Night Film picks concludes with Peter Strickland’s kinky melodrama The Duke of Burgundy. 

 

Set in an all-female world in an unspecific European countryside, the film details the sadomasochistic relationship between two women as we see how the submissive maid Evelyn dominates her mistress, the butterfly professor Cynthia. The psychosexual romance between the lesbian couple – which consists of fantasy role-playing, deviant sexual, and moth studies – is tested when Evelyn’s demands for more extreme means of sexual fulfillment are met with resistance from Cynthia, who is becoming increasingly reluctant in her role as the dominatrix. 

 

While indebted to the erotic art-house cinema of the seventies from pioneers of the Euro sex-horror genre like Jess Franco and Jean Rollin, Strickland’s film is another typically daring and original work. As with the intense audiovisual immersion that made his Italian-horror-inspired Berberian Sound Studio so compelling, Burgundy is also elevated through its autumn-hued, evocative imagery and a hallucinatory, insect-riddled soundscape.