Franco’s Sexual Story of O is perhaps one of my favorites of Franco’s work. It’s oneiric, filled with longing, voyeurism, ennui, it’s ultimately beautiful, languid. Even as a devout Franco fan, I’ll be one of the first to admit that, often, Franco has no idea how to end his films. Sometimes they just sort of fizzle out, other times they end in pure cliche. But, often, Franco also creates endings that kill. As someone who doesn’t invest much in endings (it’s always been my opinion that if the only part of a film you can remember is the ending, then the rest of the film isn’t very good), when an ending works well it really hits me. The ending of Sexual Story of O is perfect.
After a highly sexual scene that ends, simultaneously, in both death and ecstasy, the croon of a woman’s voice hovers on the soundtrack as a nude body is carried to the sea. The preceeding orgy is visually stunning, but it’s this quiet coda that gives the film its weight. It’s pure Franco, recalling Venus in Furs, Macumba Sexual, Gemidos de Placer; it’s a symbolic return to the womb, it is the negation of death by life. It’s the quiet after a scream. It’s a release.