• Peter Strickland’s 2014 effort The Duke of Burgundy is his finest film to date.
  • The story surrounds Evelyn (Chiara D’Anna) and Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen) as lovers in a remote village set in the past where the study of moths and butterflies (lepidopterology) seem to be the main focus in life (outside of Evelyn’s sexual fetishes).
  • The film explores the themes of dominance and obedience- Strickland is not interested in cheap exploitation though. He is interested in human nature (examining the species and these characters like the characters examine the butterflies) and the complexity and strain on relationship this sexual fetishism can cause—Evelyn’s idiosyncrasies look exhausting.
  • Strickland is an exemplary technical craftsman—the freeze frames, color tinting (most of these on display in the brilliant opening credit sequence) the dissolves—he often racks focus and shoots off mirrors and windows. Like another exemplary craftsman Brian De Palma, this is panache more so than pastiche. This is a very moody tone poem of a film where he holds almost every shot for an extra beat or two.

like De Palma or Tarantino- Strickland is very transparent about his cinematic roots and influences. Like both De Palma and Tarantino as well- Strickland is a gifted artisan.

Strickland reminds me of Edgar Wright in that he seems fully capable (meaning talented enough) of making a masterpiece

the opening credits in The Duke of Burgundy are some of the cinema’s finest- ranking up there with the work of Hitchcock, Peckinpah, Scorsese or Almodovar


  • Splendid 1970s period (the era of cinema that seems to inspire Strickland the most) costume work- and bizarre (very fitting of Strickland’s world) music from a band called Cat’s Eyes.
  • The group that gathers for lectures on moths and butterflies has no men at all- and Strickland even peppers the audience at some of the lectures with mannequins.
  • Bunuel does seem to inspire on Strickland- one of the characters is Dr. Viridiana

Some of the exteriors- including the opening (here)- are quite beautiful. Shot in Hungary- camera zooms (a 1970s technique largely) in an eerie forest.

The use of the close-up of the eye is from the Giallo genre film The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971- Argento)- Strickland made Berberian Sound Studio (2012) prior to this as well- another film touching on this genre and period in cinema.

  • The animation of the butterflies in the surrealism sequence is not needed- same with the burning cards through CGI—it would have been better to stay with the craftsmanship and cinematic tools used earlier in the film.
  • Recommend / Highly Recommend border