Menthe – Lars Von Trier’s Story Of O

An early experimental fetish short from the controversial director.

Made during his pre-feature period of experimental and student filmmaking, Lars Von Trier’s film Menthe – la bienheureuse is a 1979 free form adaptation of The Story of O that takes visual inspiration from the past masters of avant-garde and surreal cinema – you can see elements of Cocteau, Bunuel, Genet and Man Ray here. You might struggle to see much Pauline Reage/Dominique Aury, of course – the film takes the feel of the erotic classic rather than any overt narrative points, even though it does explore themes of dominance and submission – here between two women.

Seen in retrospect, the film also feels very much like a dry run for the director’s later obsessions – it’s dour, sensual, deliberate and stylish. Like many an early experimental work by a renowned filmmaker, it’s been rather overlooked by those who like to think that directors arrive fully formed with their debut feature – but for fans of underground filmmaking, this is worth a look. Note that despite having no overt sexual content or nudity, the film has been age-restricted on YouTube and this might affect your ability to watch depending on where in the world you are.

Help support The Reprobate: