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Jess Franco
Klaus Kinski, Romina Power, Maria Rohm
Writing Credits:
Harry Alan Towers, Arpad DeRiso

Penniless and separated from her sister, a beautiful, chaste orphan must endure an endless parade of villains, perverts and degenerates who covet her virtue and life.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Dolby Vision
English DTS-HD MA 1.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 124 min.
Price: $49.95
Release Date: 2/21/2023

• Audio Commentary with Film Historians Nathaniel Thompson and Troy Howarth
Deadly Sanctuary US Version of Justine
• “The Perils and Pleasures of Justine” Featurette
• “Stephen Thrower on Justine” Featurette
• “On Set with Jess” Featurette
• Poster & Still Gallery
• French Trailer
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Justine [4K UHD] (1969)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 6, 2023)

Spanish director Jess Franco made a handful of movies based on the work of the Marquis de Sade. For the first of these, we go to 1969’s Justine.

Orphaned sisters Juliette (Maria Rohm) and Justine (Romina Power) find themselves unprepared to fend for themselves. While Juliette winds up in the relative safety of a brothel run by the motherly Madame de Buisson (Carmen de Lirio), Justine encounters a more difficult path.

On her own, Justine deals with a seemingly endless series of men who want to use her for their own perverted purposes. The chaste Justine struggles to cope with these interactions as well as her evolving view of her own sexuality.

Slowly evolving view, as Justine doesn’t change a whole lot across the movie’s two hours. The film adopts a vibe akin to an “R”-rated Dickens tale, as Justine goes through a variety of episodes as she finds herself in the world.

Unfortunately, precious few of these segments become even vaguely intriguing. Sporadic events happen around Justine but rarely does much come of them.

Justine herself lacks much personality, a fact abetted by Power’s utter lack of skill as an actor. While lovely, she displays no skills, so she makes a thin character even less robust.

Perhaps to compensate, the occasionally overqualified supporting cast camps it up. Actually, as an opportunistic murderer, Mercedes McCambridge brings actual spark and personality to her sporadic appearances.

Unfortunately, no one else picks up the slack. As de Sade himself, Klaus Kinksi gets little to do beyond write his tome and act tortured.

At least that makes him more tolerable than the cruel libertine played by Jack Palance. That Oscar winner chews scenery with abandon and creates a wholly ridiculous character.

Although the story’s opening essentially co-bills Justine and her sister, Juliette appears surprisingly infrequently here. For the vast majority of the story, we barely hear from Juliette until close to the end, a choice that feels perplexing given the manner in which the tale introduces the character.

If Justine managed more intrigue, this might matter less, but as noted, our title role fails to create much to stimulate the viewer. Despite the erotic notions inherent in a de Sade project, Justine comes surprisingly light on sex.

Again, this plays more like a Dickens tale than expected, as we find very little erotic content. Even the sadism of the Palance character occurs briefly and seems fairly tame.

All of this leaves Justine as a surprisingly dull affair. Even with the promise of a sexual journey, it simply falls flat and never goes down a compelling path.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C/ Bonus B+

Justine appears in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This Dolby Vision presentation worked quite well.

Overall sharpness felt positive. Occasional minor instances of softness materialized, but they remained rare and usually reflected a gauzy photography intended for erotic scenes.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain seemed natural, and I saw no print flaws outside of a quick streak or two.

Colors leaned natural, with a bit of an emphasis on browns and reds. Overall, the tones came across in a vivid manner, and HDR added range and impact to the hues.

Blacks were deep and dark, while shadows became smooth and appropriate. HDR contributed oomph and power to whites and contrast. Expect a solid image here.

Less obvious pleasures come from the pretty average DTS-HD MA 1.0 soundtrack of Justine. With a lot of looping, dialogue remained intelligible but never natural.

Score showed acceptable reproduction but lacked much range or clarity and occasionally became shrill. Effects also seemed thin and lackluster. Given the track’s age and origins, it felt acceptable but no better.

On the 4K disc, we find a French trailer as well as an audio commentary from film historians Nathaniel Thompson and Troy Howarth. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the source and its adaptation, the life of the Marquis de Sade, cast and crew, various versions, other de Sade adaptations and related domains.

Despite my description of the chat as “screen-specific”, Howarth and Thompson rarely comment on the action as it occurs. Instead, they offer a deep dive into elements connected to the film.

And they do so well, as they cover a slew of appropriate topics and create a lively track. They don’t stick us with endless happy talk – in particular, Romina Power gets a lot of criticism – and they make this a strong commentary.

The commentary and the trailer also appear on the included Blu-ray copy along with additional extras. The most unusual attraction comes from Deadly Sanctuary, an abbreviated US cut of Justine.

Whereas the full-length Justine runs 2:04:11, Sanctuary chops the movie down to a mere 1:35:41. I didn’t watch the movie to directly compare, but obviously Sanctuary offers a very different experience.

Three featurettes follow, and The Perils and Pleasures of Justine lasts 20 minutes, three seconds. It offers notes from director Jess Franco and screenwriter Harry Alan Towers.

“Perils” covers the film’s development and the adaptation of the source, sets and locations, cast and performances, music, various aspects of the production and different cuts of the film.

Towers tosses in a few thoughts, but Franco dominates and makes this an enjoyable piece due to his blunt nature.

Stephen Thrower on Justine presents an interview with the author of a biography about Franco. It goes for 17 minutes, 35 seconds and looks at elements of the movie’s creation and thoughts about the filmmakers and the end result. Thrower adds some useful background.

Finally, On Set With Jess spans eight minutes, 17 seconds and delivers a chat with actor Rosalba Neri. She relates her experiences with Franco and other actors across various films in this engaging clip.

We conclude with a Poster and Still Gallery. It presents 88 images that mix publicity elements and merchandise to deliver a nice collection.

Note that the package includes a new Blu-ray and not the original release from 2015. I didn’t review the 2023 BD because Blue Underground didn’t release it outside of this 4K set. If that changes, I’ll give the BD a separate review.

Given that it exists as an adaptation of work by the Marquis de Sade, one expects outrageous eroticism from Justine. Unfortunately, the film fails to deliver, as it becomes little more than a tedious character tale without real substance or energy. The 4K UHD boasts very good picture along with decent audio and a mix of bonus materials. Nothing here works.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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