Maîtresse is a 1976 French film directed by Barbet Schroeder and starring Bulle Ogier and Gérard Depardieu in an early role.
The film provoked controversy in the United Kingdom and the United States because of its graphic depictions of sado-masochistic behaviour, such as nailing a penis into a plank, and cunt whipping.
Olivier (Depardieu) is a small-time crook. He and a friend happen to meet a woman, Ariane (Ogier) whose plumbing needs to be fixed. They fix the pipes and learn that the landlord downstairs is away. They take the opportunity to burgle him. However they discover that in fact downstairs Ariane has a torture chamber — she is a professional dominatrix. At Ariane's request, Olivier assists her with her work and slowly becomes obsessed with her, but struggles with her sado-masochistic activities. Olivier tries to understand and take control of Ariane, whom he believes frightened in her job, however, as their love blossoms, their natural roles of dominant and submissive cannot be overcome.
Release in the United Kingdom
was first considered for release by the British Board of Film Classification
. It was banned from release, with the Board's examiner stating that the film was "miles in excess of anything we have released in this field". This quote itself led the film to achieve a certain level of notoriety. In 1981
the film was resubmitted. Following 4 minutes and 47 seconds of cuts from the most graphic scenes, the film was released with an X certificate. In 2003
, the film was submitted for a third time and, following a relaxation of guidelines, passed at the 18 certificate without cuts.
The film was rated X in the United States.