4k Movie, Streaming, Blu-Ray Disc, and Home Theater Product Reviews & News | High Def Digest
Film & TV All News Blu-Ray Reviews Release Dates News Pre-orders 4K Ultra HD Reviews Release Dates News Pre-orders Gear Reviews News Home Theater 101 Best Gear Film & TV
Ultra HD : Recommended
Ranking:
Sale Price: $31.51 Last Price: $ Buy now! 3rd Party 34.99 In Stock
Release Date: February 21st, 2023 Movie Release Year: 1969

Marquis de Sade's Justine - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Overview -

The Marquis de Sade’s classic novel Justine, or the Misfortunes of Virtue has seen many adaptations over the years, but it was legendary cult filmmaker Jesús Franco who staged the most faithful adaptation with 1969’s Justine. Blue Underground returns to the world of the Marquis de Sade with their new 4K Blu-ray release that boasts a remarkable new 2160p presentation aided by Dolby Vision HDR, plus some a few extra special features to help sweeten the upgrade from BU’s previous 2015 Blu-ray release of the film. This release comes Recommended!

Romina Power (18-year-old-daughter of Tyrone Power) stars as Justine, a nubile young virgin cast out of a French orphanage and thrust into a depraved world of prostitution, predatory lesbians, a fugitive murderess (Mercedes McCambridge), bondage, branding, and one supremely sadistic monk (an outrageous performance by Jack Palance). It's a twisted tale of strange desires, perverse pleasures and the ultimate corruption of innocence as told by the Marquis de Sade.

 JUSTINE is one of the most lavish and bizarre erotic shockers ever made by the notorious Jess Franco, bursting with wanton nudity, sexual perversion, and an all-star cast that also includes Akim Tamiroff (TOUCH OF EVIL), Maria Rohm (EUGENIE, 99 WOMEN) and Klaus Kinski (NOSFERATU) as the Marquis de Sade. Originally released with over 30 minutes cut, this infamous film is presented here fully restored and completely uncensored for the first time.

  • 4K RESTORATION OF THE FILM FROM THE ORIGINAL CAMERA NEGATIVE
  • DOLBY VISION/HDR PRESENTATION OF THE FILM
  • NEW On Set With Jess – Interview with Star Rosalba Neri
  • NEW Audio Commentary with Film Historians Nathaniel Thompson and Troy Howarth
  • The Perils And Pleasures Of Justine - Interviews with Director Jess Franco and Writer/Producer Harry Alan Towers
  • Stephen Thrower on JUSTINE - Interview with the author of "Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco"
  • French Trailer
  • NEWLY EXPANDED! Poster & Still Gallery
  • NEW! DEADLY SANCTUARY – The shorter U.S. version in High Definition (96 Mins.)
  • Audio: English (1.0 DTS-HD MA)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Français, Español
  • Limited Edition embossed "windowed" slipcover (First Pressing Only) [pictured below on the left]
  • REGION-FREE

OVERALL:
Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray
Video Resolution/Codec:
Dolby Vision HDR / HDR10
Length:
124
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.85:1
Audio Formats:
English: DTS-HD MA 1.0
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH, French, Spanish
Release Date:
February 21st, 2023

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

Before Jess Franco took off for what would be (in my opinion) his most-successful de Sade adaptation yet in Eugenie, the cult filmmaker achieved a degree of international stardom with this international co-production. It’s a compromised film, to be sure. Jess Franco and co-writer/co-producer Harry Alan Towers had written a very faithful adaptation of the novel that was all set to film with Rosemary Dexter to star as Justine, then a Hollywood financier forced Franco to put Romina Power (daughter of Tyrone Power) in the role instead. This angered Franco, unsurprisingly. For the man, this new star lacked the sensuality and acting experience needed to pull off such a demanding role, and he rewrote the script to match a more subdued main character without as much dialogue. The result is inconsistent, but Franco takes his biggest budget at the time and lays it all out on the screen. Those dreamy, gauzy sequences now have been given the proper budget, and the staccato moments of humor get carried out by popular character actors giving it their all.

Marquis de Sade’s Justine uses the titular philosopher himself as a framing device to open the film, with Klaus Kinski portraying de Sade as he’s being led into the Bastille, the place where he was imprisoned for obscenity. Kinski has zero dialogue before the focus readjusts to the story of two orphaned young women named Justine (Romina Power) and Juliette (Maria Rohm), who live in a convent. When their father is reported dead, they are ordered out of the convent. The duo is propositioned by a brothel owner to become prostitutes, to which Juliette accepts and Justine rejects, leading the sisters to split ways.

Where Justine falters in achieving a full narrative vision by Franco, it’s picked up by crazy characterizations, a great Bruno Nicolai score and hell, Jack Palance chewing scenery like never before as priest who is secretly abducting and using young women as his sex slaves. Yes, there’s the Marquis de Sade we all know. Unfortunately for the film, that section doesn’t come until way too late in the game to make a difference, though envisioning a version of Justine with more sections like this can give you an idea of what Franco was truly up to.

All those beautiful Franco wide shots of European vistas and close-ups of women in the throes of pain and/or pleasure are intact here despite their not being much of a rudder to focus those efforts. The R rating in the US may have seemed salacious to an American audience, but for the initiated, this is a rather lukewarm sexploitation shocker from the man who always pushed the boundaries of good taste. Whether you can accept your costume dramas with a dollop of sleaze is up to you. For this writer, it works and the lavish production budget pays dividends for those interested in European cult filmmaking.

Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Give yourself to the erotic nightmares of Justine, showcased here with a two-disc (BD100 for UHD and BD50 for Blu-ray) release. The discs are housed in a black scanavo case that comes with a limited-edition slipcover with a die-cut view at the key cover art. Both discs boot up to standard menu screens with options to play the film, select scenes, browse special features and set up audio and video.

Video Review

Ranking:

We previously reviewed the 2015 Blu-ray release of Justine from Blue Underground and awarded it top marks, and it’s a great pleasure to report that this new 4K release deserves the same high praise. The differences over the previous 4K restoration are immediately apparent in the opening scenes, with very strong depth and detail found in the lavish production design. Colors look fantastic, especially primaries like sterling blue and bloody red. This is reportedly a brand-new 4K restoration from the uncensored original camera negative, so it leads me to believe that BU saw the capabilities of their new 4K restoration workflow and thought it best to go back and scan the original camera negative again. The result is nothing short of beautiful.

Film grain looks fantastic here and stands in opposition to a lot of the Franco-directed efforts from that era that had a lot of out-of-focus wide shots and a frenetic handheld style. What we see here is something much more textural and statelier, exactly like you’d imagine a lavish costume drama to be. Black levels are especially stunning here and no crush issues are to be found. The Dolby Vision HDR treatment really pulls the most out of those natural flesh tones and stylized colors, and the source looks to be in near-perfect condition with nary a scratch found throughout. This is another stunner from Blue Underground.

Important Note: I used my Samsung UB820 to watch this and unfortunately, like other 4K Blue Underground releases, the Dolby Vision HDR causes playback issues. After turning Dolby Vision HDR off, everything worked just fine with my setup. Luckily I have an Xbox Series X to watch 4K discs as well, so I was able to view this in all of its Dolby Vision glory. 

Audio Review

Ranking:

Justine is presented with a DTS-HD MA 1.0 track that sounds very good despite all the effects added in post-production that can sound unrealistic. The range is limited, of course, but Bruno Nicolai’s dramatic score is nicely layered in with dialogue and sound effects. No hiss or damage found on this track.

Special Features

Ranking:

Matt covered the 2015 Blu-ray release from Blue Underground and gave it top marks. In addition to all the features carried over from that 2015 release, BU has added a new audio commentary, an interview with star Rosalba Neri and an HD presentation of the shorter U.S. version of the film. The interview with Neri is a brief and fun watch, with the actress reflecting on working with Franco and what she thought of co-stars Jack Palance and Romina Power. The HD presentation of Deadly Sanctuary is another reason to pick this release up. It seems to be a reconstruction of sorts, which is okay given the scarcity of film materials, and the presentation on the whole looks great.

Disc 1: 4K UHD

  • Audio commentary with film historians Nathaniel Thompson and Troy Howarth
  • French trailer (4K with Dolby Vision 3:46)

Disc 2: Blu-ray

  • Audio commentary with film historians Nathaniel Thompson and Troy Howarth
  • The Perils and Pleasures of Justine (HD 19:59)
  • Stephen Thrower on Justine (HD 17:32)
  • On Set With Jess (HD 8:17)
  • French trailer (HD 3:46)
  • Deadly Sanctuary – The shorter U.S. version in High Definition (HD 95:41)
  • Poster and still gallery

Final Thoughts

While Marquise de Sade’s Justine is far from Jess Franco’s best work, it acted as a lesson for Franco. If the sleaze he wanted to make couldn’t be found with a higher budget, then dive deeper into that seedy world of low-budget filmmaking. And dive he did. This new stunning 4K Blu-ray release from Blue Underground comes Recommended!