Writer of O (Pola Rapaport)
Passion comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. It is a very individual thing, like a finger print or your favorite color. What is provocative to some is scandalous to others. Passion is often linked to love, and in the case of Dominique Aury, her timeless gift to her lover was the erotic novel, The Story of O.
Written in 1954 under the pen name of Pauline Reage, this renowned writer and editor for Gallimard, an esteemed publishing house in France, the book tells the tale of the woman O who gives all of herself to her lover Rene – literally. She is essentially kept as a prisoner, and in this documentary they reenact some of the ways in which she experiences a number of S&M related acts, but only in a descriptive sense by reading from the book itself and showing only the woman naked and bare as she waits for her next command.
Written at night and with pencil in hand, the book is a love story to Aury’s lover of many years, another well known and respected writer, Jean Paulhan. The documentary captures the life story of this woman as she describes how it was to hide her identity for many decades, until her parents had passed on. She recalls how the book was scrutinized and banned and by a number of countries, including her beloved France that is typically known for its liberal views.
It’s also interesting to see how at the time, many who were trying to find out the actual identity of the writer. Some assumed that it had to be a man because a woman was not capable of writing anything so erotic and brutal. And the irony was that the book itself was more accepted by women and nearly shunned by men.
To see Aury speak with an almost subdued presence, the glimmer in her eyes and smirk on her face it is compelling, that a quiet old woman of 86 could turn society on its ear and cause such cultural commotion. But that’s the beauty of the human psyche; you just never know what lies within the secret confines of the mind. In her case her passion for words and Jean Paulhan. And the Story of O was an ode to her unconditional devotion to him. A real love story sans the soundtrack by Andy Williams.