The Duke of Burgundy centres around a ‘master and servant’ BDSM relationship, with Cynthia (Borgen‘s Sidse Babett Knudsen) lording it over Evelyn (Chiara D’Anna), for example, making the latter clean the house whilst crawling around on all fours, but Evelyn enjoys being ‘owned’ and used by Cynthia – it’s what she thrives on, and she encourages Cynthia to maintain the relationship in this manner. It’s one that works for them both.
Amongst their fetishes are the desire to own a bed where Evelyn would get strapped into the underside, such that as Cynthia is lying down, Evelyn can’t escape. So, it’s rather like the drawers under a divan in your average bed… sort of. Also, Cynthia drinks so many glasses of water, you do begin to wonder (or at least I did) whether watersports would play a part in their relationship (and if you think about it, you’ll find your answer), but while the sex scenes hint at what’s going on, they aren’t particularly graphic and certainly not in the same league as Blue Is The Warmest Colour or Room In Rome. Very few films are an 18-cert, these days, so I can see what might’ve led to that, but if you’re expecting full-on bonking, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
As for the title? The Duke of Burgundy is the name of a particular type of butterfly.
Yes, Cynthia is a member of Butterfly Club. And the first rule of Butterfly Club?
With a definite sexual frisson between the two leads, you do begin to wonder whether one of the charactersis getting more out of the relationship than the other. Also, rather befitting of what the characters get up to, it does eventually starts to disappear up its own backside and, with the occasional stilted delivery of the dialogue from everyone concerned, particularly the tertiary characters at Butterfly Club, The Duke of Burgundy comes across as the sort of film which was intended to be shot in another language but they changed their minds at a late stge to English dialogue instead.
Also, Chiara D’Anna constantly has a look on her face which could double-bill with Sean Hughes in “My Life As A Startled Bunny“.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition. The print is crystal clear, with the opening credits giving a clever nod to the films of the ’70s, and there are zero defects on the print.
The sound is in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, and there’s nothing in the way of conventional surround sound effects, but there are some bizarre mechanical sounds during their lovemaking around 22 minutes into the film, which you also hear later on, as well as some wonderful music from Faris Badwan and Rachel Zeffira as Cat’s Eyes. And there’s also sounds of butterflies. Yes, this film does get weird at times.
The great selection of extras are as follows:
- Interview with Peter Strickland (11:34): The director talks about how the film came about, the cast, filming in Hungary, the cinematography and the score.
It’s sometimes difficult to get a handle on what he’s saying as he tends to… umm… veer off, erm… the point.
- Stills Galleries: Galleries for Cynthia’s manor – before and after the set design was done; the production design and art department; pre-production, shooting, pinned insects, digital insects and posters.
- Deleted Scenes (45:27): A whacking great 21 here, each introduced with a passage of text from the director, including one inspired by – would you believe – Planes Trains And Automobiles! Many of these scenes also feature music by Cat’s Eyes.
- Cat’s Eyes: “Requiem For The Duke Of Burgundy” promo (4:43): Music video time with a stunning piece.
- Conduct Phase (7:55): A short film, originally shot in 1996, which shows off the director’s skill of shooting at different speeds.
- Mole Cricket Field Notes (1:41): The sound of the mole cricket, as heard in the film. Sounds like a 1970s trimphone after its got stuck 😉
- Trailer (1:56): In the original 2.35:1 ratio.
- Audio Commentary: with director Peter Strickland.
There are 12 chapters on this disc, a bog-standard number as given by most distributors. I would always recommend one every 5 minutes, personally. Subtitles are in English, while the main menu mixes clips from the film with the wonderful theme.
Running time: 105 mins
Released: April 27th 2015
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Super 35)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Peter Strickland
Producer: Andrew Starke
Executive Producers: Lizzie Francke, Anna Higgs, Amy Jump, Ildiko Kemeny and Ben Wheatley
Screenplay: Peter Strickland
Music: Faris Badwan and Rachel Zeffira (as Cat’s Eyes)
Cynthia: Sidse Babett Knudsen
Evelyn: Chiara D’Anna
The Carpenter: Fatma Mohamed
Lorna: Monica Swinn
Dr Fraxini: Eugenia Caruso
Dr Schuller: Zita Kraszkó
Dr Viridana: Eszter Tompa
Dr Lurida: Kata Bartsch
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.