Justine de Sade


by Tuna

Justine de Sade is a French telling of Justine, one of the two stories that got the infamous Marquis de Sade jailed.

The film opens with France Verdier entering a whorehouse from a convent, after being orphaned. The madam agrees to teach her the ropes, assuring her success in life. Cut to the future, where she is obviously well off, and stops in a public house. Two guards bring in Justine (Alice Arno), who is on her way to be executed for crimes she didn't commit. Verdier gets permission to hear her story. She was orphaned and left with only modest funds, which soon were gone, and tried to find honest work. Every place she tried heaped indignity, sexual excess, and all manor of perversion on her, although she only wanted to save her virginity and find a decent life.

The basic theme of the film is one of de Sade's fundamental tenets: virtue will always be punished. For the most part, this idea is expressed by having virtuous woman being abused and punished by abusive men. In de Sade's playbook, nature intended men to abuse women, or women wouldn't have been designed to be inferior and weaker.

The decade beginning in 1969 was the golden age of de Sade films, which is not surprising given that it was a time of sexual and thematic permissiveness following decades of repression. Jess Franco also tackled the same unpleasant source material in his 1968 Justine (Deadly Sanctuary), as did Joe D'Amato in 1975's Justine and the Whip, and Chris Boger in 1977's Cruel Passion. Even mainstream Hollywood stars like Kier Dullea and John Huston got in the act in 1969's De Sade, which combined biographical exposition from the Marquis's life with scenarios from his books, implying that perhaps they were one and the same.

There is a good deal of confusion on several websites among the many de Sade films from that Marquis-strewn decade. This one is probably the best film of the group, and is certainly the most faithful to the source material. The uncensored version pulls few of its punches. The scene that earned the X rating is either a monastery orgy or the scene where Justine is given communion by having a host inserted in her rectum and then being sodomized by one of the monks. This reflects the actual depraved and cruel thought process of the real Marquis de Sade, not the rascally fictional character presented in Quills. The film's strict adherence to the source novel is both a good and a bad thing. Accuracy may be a virtue, but as the Marquis himself would note, virtue is overrated. The film did stop short of showing enough to sate the true sadist, but the tone is such that I doubt many will find it erotic. You aren't human if you don't feel sorry for Justine by the end of the film.

Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


A classic bit of erotica which stays faithful to the unpleasant themes and tone of the written source - thus assuring that it will only reach a tiny audience of fetishists and curiosity seekers.


  • Alice Arno is naked most of the film, and is beaten, bled, sodomized and otherwise abused beginning to end.
  • France Verdier shows breasts.
  • Diane Lepvrier shows everything.
  • Several unknowns also show various body parts.


No major reviews online.







6.2 IMDB summary (of 10)








This nasty bit of film history is available from  Blue Underground in the complete uncensored X-rated version dubbed in English, and with an optional French sound track and English subtitles. Some of the restored footage has never been seen in an English-speaking country, so it was remastered from different source material and is presented only in French with subtitles. The film is a little grainy in parts, but is a reasonable remaster job for much of the running time.