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Rush gives a tour-de-force performance as history's most infamous sexual adventurer, the Marquis de Sade. A nobleman with a literary flair, the Marquis lives in a madhouse where a beautiful laundry maid (Winslet) smuggles his erotic stories to a printer, defying orders from the asylum's resident priest (Phoenix). The titillating passages whip all of France into a sexual frenzy, until a fiercely conservative doctor (Caine) tries to put an end to the fun, inadvertently stoking the excitement to a fever pitch.

With bedroom eyes and the mischievous smirk of an insatiable rou¨¦, Geoffrey Rush is a perfect choice to play the Marquis de Sade in Quills, directed by Philip Kaufman and adapted by Doug Wright from his own stage play. Imprisoned in France's Charenton asylum at the turn of the 18th century, de Sade is a stately court jester in disheveled finery, and Rush imbues the role with the fierce urgency of a writer whose sexual fantasies are his sole remaining defense against repression and hypocrisy. Deprived of quill and ink, he writes with wine, then blood, then his own feces--a descent into madness or an impassioned refusal to be silenced? Quills embraces freedom of expression ("such beauty, such abomination," as one character notes) while affirming that all freedoms have a price.

De Sade smuggles manuscripts out of Charenton with help from Madeleine (Kate Winslet), a virginal laundress who relishes de Sade's scandalous prose--a divine irony since she was taught to read by asylum abb¨¦ Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix), whose desire for Madeleine is suppressed by Catholic propriety. The delicate dynamic of this trio is shattered by the arrival of Royer-Collard (Michael Caine, appearing somewhat comatose), a righteous hypocrite appointed to silence de Sade once and for all. It's all very engrossing as a piece of theater (which it still is, despite Kaufman's elegant filming), and although Wright's literate dialogue limits de Sade to zesty ripostes and sneering perversity, Rush's intensity ensures that the marquis's plight is no laughing matter. Quills has a point, makes it without condescension, and knows the difference between madness and passion. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews:

  • Storytelling with the Marquis de Sade!
    I must say I did not know much about the Marquis de Sade before watching this movie. I knew of him, but was not familiar with his life. The current DVD is a fictional depiction of his times that is based on a lot of fact. The characters depicted in the film are historical, but the details of their lives have been fabricated for dramatic purposes.

    Our friend the Marquis de Sade spent time in an insane asylum by order of Napoleon (and this is a historical truth). The present film explores what could have happened within the asylum. The result is a rather unique movie; at times it is very funny and at other times it is downright grotesque.

    Like all good movies about insane asylums, this one has scenes that look to come straight out of Dante's INFERNO. And, moreover, I would not recommend it to the squeamish of heart. I admit there were a few scenes that even I found very difficult to watch.

    The casting is impeccable; Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix and Michael Caine are all terrific. Much like he did with playing a pirate in PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN, it is obvious that Rush relishes his part as a man whose imagination and sex drive have both gone to warp speed!

    If you like period movies, biographical movies or films that deal with the theme of where free speech comes to a head with the machinery of religion & politics, then this movie is for you!...more info
  • Such A Naughty little film we have here.
    Let me just say if I Could give it more stars I would. This movie deserves every star you have. This was such a great film I don't know were to start. Lets start off with the characters and a little about them. Kate Winslet plays Madeleine who is the laundryett that works in the Insane asylum were this whole movie is based in, falls for The Marquis De Sade (also in the mad haouse) who Geoffery Rush plays. The Marquis De Sade is in love with Madeleine (Kate Winslet), but Madilein is also in love with Abbe' Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix,also at the mad house) which is in love with Madiliene. Confusing isn't it.

    Well when you see it you get a better picture of it. The setting, costume etc, were great. I've seen a lot of period peices, but this one tops it off. In the movie you really want the Marquis De Sade and Madilien to end up together for some reason. Others may disagree with me but they don't see it lke I do. lol. Anyway, the funny thing is the Marquis De Sade isn't really mad. Well the only thing that turns him off is when he doesn't have a quill and sone ink. Then he goes a little crazy and when I mean crazy I mean desperate for ink and, well I'm not going to spoil it so ou'll just have to bye to see it. Also Joaquin was HOT!! He was the hottest priest I ever saw lol. Anouther thing is the other insine people you somehow fall in love with them. They're lovable characters. You need to see it to belive it. I totally recomend tis movies. Dont rent it bye it....more info
  • Very Naughty, Yet Oh-So-Nice
    I would like to start off by saying that I love Joaquin Phoenix. I would watch anything as long as he is in it, and that says a lot considering how original his movie choices can be, but I soak it up like a sponge. Now that I got that out of my system lets talk film. I have to say this movie was long overdue. It had an edge to it that I feel Hollywood lacks. It is all there. Love, passion, danger, forbidden fruit. It is just fabulous. It managed to have a totally original concept while tackling the taboo of sex. And the cast couldn't be any better. With an age that crowns Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson as superstars, it is nice to know that there are still actors out there who are not only talented, but have a true appreciation of their art. So go watch this film. Run don't walk. I don't want to give anything away so I am just going to say take a chance with this one, I have a feeling you won't be disappointed....more info
  • Somewhat Disturbing but Impactful
    The Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush) is locked in an insane asylum because of his casual treatment of erotic phrases. His books are popular with the public, although the Abbe (Joaquin Phoenix) is unaware that his writing is being released. In comes Madeleine LeClerc (Kate Winslet), a laundress with an appetite for dirty novels. In spite of her interests, she remains pure and attracts the eyes of many of the inmates. The town is in a fury over the Marquis' graphic descriptions of the forbidden and sometimes blasphemous acts, so Dr. Royer-Collard (Michael Caine) comes to the asylum to remedy the situation. However, the doctor's methods are much less humane than the Abbe's.

    An excellent commentary on hidden desires and supression, Quills is a memorable historical film. Unlike the public's assumptions about the behaviors of people in the past, permiscuity existed hundreds of years ago, and this film does a fine job of describing why even now, we believe differently. Quills is no picnic, and as the name implies is often uncomfortable, but it is powerful. The cast deserves a great amount of credit for bringing the story to life; if they faltered, it would not be as impactful as it is....more info
  • "To my beloved reader.. prepare yourself for ther most impure tale ever to be told" By the marquis De Sade
    well, well, well, this is a very impure tale indeed. Lets start off with the charcters. first we have of course the dirty writer the Marquis De Sade played by Geofery Rush (Javert in Les Miserable) who is in the Charaton Insane Asylum (where the whole movie is baed in). Next we have Madeleine 'Maddy' LeClerc played by Kate Winslet (Rose in Titanict) who is the launrdy lass and how one says......not Marquis's slave but his dilivery girl in other words he gives her the manuscritp and she would give them to the publisher's delivery man. For you see, since The Marquis was in the Insanse Asylum he couldn't go anywere and also he wrote NAUGHTY BOOKS and they weren't as Nopolain said "Appropiet", but I think he had his fare share of Marquis books. Next we have The Abbe du Coulmier who is payed by Joaquin Phoenix and he is the priest the insane asylum. And let me tell you like I said in my other review (Such a Naughty Little Film we Have Here) he is the HOTTEST PRIEST I EVER SAW. Last we have Dr. Royer-Collard who is played by Micheal Caine (Alfred in Batman Begins). Its ashame that he is such a good actor but doesn't get the best roles. His role in this movie was the doctor that treats the patients in the insane asylum. Also he marries a 14 year old girl. Then the word passes on and the Marquis De sade writes a play on it and a book called "The Crimes Of Love".

    Now moving on, the sets were fabulous and the costumes were the best. Let me tell you I have seen a lot of period peices but this one tops them all except for Amudaus. Now in this film the Marquis De Sade goes a little crazy because Abbe' takes away his Quill and paper because they found out that he was piblishng behind there backs. So he goes a little crazy. And I mean really crazy. I'm not going to spiol you just have to see it for yourself. I totaly recomed this film. Don't rent just bye it. You want regreet I Promis.

    ...more info
  • Quills
    Pure class!
    Each of the four leading actors; Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Michael Caine and Joaquin...(the guy from Gladiator!) were outstanding! The plot was intriguing, language accurate and the realism seemed brutal.
    Just watch it if you like classy films....more info
  • what a boring movie but yet its okay
    this movie is a sleeping pill and the end is disturbing.
    but mr.rush does a great acting job.but it was hard to keep my eyes open....more info
  • The Tyranny of the Written Word
    I've watched two of the most recent adaptations of the Marquis' life on film - Quills (1999), Sade (2000) and I must admit that I'm quite torn between the two portrayals that invariably invites comparison, namely the roles of de Sade played out by Daniel Auteuil and Geoffery Rush respectively.

    I've been exposed to the film Sade on an earlier date so I've to admit my bias to the character portrayed therein, which has since acquired my liking for and the film as a whole.

    Both actors practically lived out their roles and it would be a mistake to assume that neither brought into their roles, traces of their own personalities and other characters they played in their other productions. Are we therefore to assume that we haven't a near-to-accurate portrayal of the infamous libertine and man of multi-talents?

    Certainly not. For the 'true' portrayal of the Marquis may very well, lie on the cusps of the two - one dignified, deep and restrained, while the other - uncontainable, contemptuous and obscene. However they have more than one thing in common, commonly expressed through writing.

    Sade is an important character, if not somewhat sidelined, in the historical movement of Continental Thought. Quills is a parody that examines the role of writing in our recent history. Writing, as it seems apparent from the story, is the medium between thought and action. Sade in Quills has an obsession to reify his thoughts in writing; from the psychiatric perspective, he is merely trying to release his obsessions through a writing compulsion. Not just intent on theorizing his philosophies - Sade's writings are practically depictions of action - writings that appeal to the primal desires of man with the intent to drive them into action. Prior to the advent of video pornography, Sade's writing was a potent force for pornography - his true legacy wasn't Sadism, but the fetish for the power of the written word. Meaning, as it seems, become highly dependent and guided by the signifier that has come to signify them. The text has come to shape and dominate our thoughts, actions and desires, becoming the real tyrant. Sade is but only one of the victims involved in the propagation of the hegemony of text. This reading would prove influential to Post-modern thought.

    Back to the film itself. Rush struck terror with his menacing and irascible countenance - his bravura performance could hardly be detracted. Perhaps the only detraction was only in physical likeness - Sade was reportedly obese by the time of his final incarceration at Charenton and Rush look a tad emaciated. Sade la Rush revealed no white or graying but jet-black hair by the time of his demise at Charenton.

    The set and costuming was impeccable, while the only remaining qualms I had was the casting. While Kate Winslet as Madeleine held a strong presence in the show, her maturity and confidence was unbelievable for a girl of 16. Phoenix's role as the Abb seemed to be a deliberate miscast to facilitate the forbidden and repressed romance of the couple. His acting was at times, awkward and by far the weakest of the cast, though not without its better moments.

    All in all the film is a testimony that period dramas have come pretty much a long way. Viewers wanting to indulge in a fair bit of a Theatre of Cruelty should not miss this cinematic masterpiece.
    ...more info
  • A One of a kind film
    This is one of the most amazing period dramas I have ever seen. This film, supperbly acted by an all star cast, uses Doug Wrights brillantly play to create a movie unlike any mainstream America has ever seen. This play has all the makings or a period drama, but the issues that it discusses and the candor with which characters address it is is very modern, and very much the style of Sades writting. Wright has written a play that is extremly similar to one of Sade's own works of fiction. Though many may regard the subject as crude, this movie is intillectual and thought provoking. It is brought to life by one of the most amazing casts I have seen in a long time. Kate Winselt is superb as a virginal laundress who works in wards of the criminally insane. Her innnonce and curiosity is something a modern audience is easily able to identify with. Joaquin (sorry for spelling) Phoniex is amazing in this film as the idealistic priest who runs the asylum. I never realized his talent until seeing this film. The sexual tension between him and Kate Winslets character is incredibly realistic, and they have a kind of chemistry that is rarely seen on the screen. Geoffery Rush, the Marquis himself, is amazing in this film. The way he is able to capture the many facets of this character is incredible. Most films featuring the Marquis, portray him as a dangerous, lewd man (usually the bad guy). This film, with the help of Rush's amazing acting, is able to portray Sade as a man whom the audience agrees with, and almost identifies with. For once the Marquis is a victim. Micheal Caine is, of course, excellent as the sadistic Doctor. All of the supporting actors do an amazing job to complete this film. This film was a brave gesture, putting forth ideas that are not often addressed in commercial movies. It is one of the best films I have seen and i stronly reccomend it to anyone who is intrested in french history (particularly revolution), period dramas, Sade, insane asylums or just an intresting and throught provokinng flim. ...more info
  • Perversely interesting and little plot, thats about it.
    I won't explain the entire plot, since it has been done in enough reviews. I will say that I thought this movie was original, well acted, and perversely interesting. That is all I can say that is good.

    Watching this movie, makes the viewer feel like a voyeur. Watching things you feel you shouldn't. Wanting to turn it off, and do something else, but not able to. Even that is not bad.

    My problem was, there was little to no plot. I felt like the director put the actors in front of the cameras, with a few pages of lines and told them to improvise the rest. There wasn't anything to follow. The scripting was terrible.

    For such an interesting historical topic, it should have been done much better.

    Very disappointing....more info
  • A Sadistic Delight...
    A highly dramatic account of The Divine Marquis, taking artistic license and an unconventional approach to whom I would consider a de-facto Satanist of his day.

    Ever the insatiable writer with a fertile, and many would consider "perverted" imagination, yet the true 'perversion' would be to stunt the creative process with perfidious and sanctimonious limitations, as the man was only remaining true to himself, honest with his nature, and allowed himself to evolve no matter the cost, even at the price of his own freedom and suffering at the pangs of discomfort and censure. Yet this daemonic tenacity was most inspiring, expressing his craft using what he will to satiate, even if only for a small time, the incessant desire to create. And this is demonstrated very poignantly by the character of DeSade when imprisoned - even from his prison cell encased within an asylum for the criminally-insane, primarily and ironically for his writing, where he continued to produce work; and with the help of the wash girl, whom he had of course copulated with, her mind was so enraptured by his passionate words, she delivered his titillating tales to be published until, his what could be equated to a "probation officer", as it were, a priest who is at obvious odds with himself, as his mind often wanders into realms of carnal consideration; discovers the Marquis' forbidden literature is somehow still seeing print. So he orders DeSade's pen and paper taken away, to which he continues to publish nonetheless. It turns out that he had actually been using red wine with a chicken bone upon a blanket to write, along with the help of the laundry girl continues to ingeniously produce.

    The next remarkable instance was that after the priest discovers this ploy, the Marquis actually uses his own blood as ink, and his inner shirt as paper, and again sends it out to be published. Finally, this too is discovered, and so he is condemned to remain in the cold, desolate stone cell naked. Yet not even this prevents DeSade, for what should transpire next, but an olfactory literation comprised of feces on the walls, to the utter horror of the clergy man. Ideas spawned in the third dimension brought into the fourth, in whatever manner possible. The voice of genius cannot be silenced, even when all else is taken away. When the priest comes to inspect DeSade, the sight as well as an infernal dissertation by DeSade exposing the priest's inner-most being and repressed psyche summarily drives him insane. DeSade is eventually released, but the priest takes his place within the fetid halls of the asylum, seemingly possessed by DeSade's words which now reverberate in his mind ceaselessly. The impression was as if DeSade's scathing, flaming tongue of undefiled wisdom implanted a demon seed into the priest's brain, and alas, it seems his sheltered and self-righteous, limited comprehension could not process it, and so, madness took effect. But instead of living life to the fullest with this new-found knowledge, he condemns himself to another mental and literal cage bourne of perfidy, much less organized.

    In conclusion, for all of the oppression DeSade endured, his body was imprisoned from time to time, but his mind was not. How many artists, musicians, writers, ectetera, would do the same if forced into a similar situation?

    Quills is a recommended film for its aesthetic beauty as well as for its penchant to inspire contemplation on all levels of being - physically, mentally, emotionally, and even sexually. In this case, DeSade acted as an iconoclastic libertine to move man's fleshly awareness forward, and was a predecessor to much of the erotic novellas to this day.

    Before DeSade came forth, anal sex was known as "buggery", his work and reputation would eventually affix an additional title to the fetishistic practice, to be called "sodomy" - but that is certainly not all his work inspired, although his antagonists seemed to have focused excessively thereof - he indeed helped to facilitate, mold, and contribute to the evilution of erotica as we know it today.

    DeSade was truly before his time - and now, his opuses may be experienced and perhaps ideas shared by his readers, while his oppressors have passed away into forgetfulness. His infamy preceded him, and his scandalous reputation helped him earn a place in history and thus, bestowed immortality....more info

  • Marat/Sade: Now with Less Philosophy!
    This is not really a review of the film "Quills," but rather a look at the historical accuracy or lack thereof of the movie. The film has been justifiably praised for its fine writing, direction and acting. But just how "true" is it? BE WARNED, if you haven't seen the film there is information in the article that could potentially spoil the film for you. There are also a few unpleasant details of the life of the notorious Marquis de Sade contained in the descriptions below.

    Spoilers Alert

    "Quills" purports to be the story of the Marquis de Sade's final years as an inmate in the asylum at Charenton under "administrative arrest." Sade's stay at Charenton has already be immortalized in the Peter Weiss play (that was later made into a movie) "Marat/Sade." The main characters are Sade; the Abbe Coulmier, the director of the asylum; Madeleine, a laundress in the asylum who helps Sade smuggle his writings to his publishers; and, Dr. Royer-Collard, the chief physician sent by Napoleon to silence Sade. All of these characters are in fact historical persons who were involved in Sade's final years of imprisonment, though, as we shall see, quite differently in some cases than as portrayed in the film.

    Sade, the so-called "Divine Marquis," played by Geoffrey Rush (who won an Oscar for his role in "Shine") was imprisoned during Napoleon's regime under a kind of lettre de cachet in part because of his alleged authorship of a pornographic novel attacking Napoleon's wife Josephine entitled Zolo¨¦ (which he probably didn't write) and due to a campaign in the press attacking him for his libertinage and pornographic writings in general, including the novel Justine. Sade had already spent much of his life in prison for various offenses, having been incarcerated under the ancien regime and the Revolution, before being held in custody under Napoleon (nor was he released after the Restoration). Sade was transferred to Charenton due to the urgings of Sade's ex-wife and children, the family paying some 8,000 francs for his upkeep. Sade's comfortable existence in the insane asylum at Charenton, outside Paris, was preferable to incarceration in a state prison.

    Sade's room at Charenton included an antechamber fitted out as a study, a library of more than 250 volumes whose windows had pleasant views over the hospital grounds to the Marne, and living quarters with a fireplace. Sade was free to walk about the grounds and was free to be visit or be visited. Sade entertained in his rooms several times a week, often entertaining some of Paris' prettiest actresses. He was also frequently visited by a barber. On one occasion Sade was even allowed to leave the grounds to attend mass St.-Maurice on Easter Sunday 1805. Even Sade's mistress, whom he designated his "illegitimate daughter," was allowed lived with him at Charenton after 1804, had an adjoining room. He also apparently had a valet to look after his needs. On the other hand, however, the police did keep Sade under surveillance, confiscating not only the occasional pornographic writings (which were later burned at the direct order and in the presence of Sade's son) but also various implements of a sexual nature. During one raid, police found "an enormous wax instrument...which showed traces of its ignoble [self] introduction."

    A description of Sade during his time at Charenton is quite unlike the appearance of Geoffrey Rush in the film, although Sade did affect wigs of pre-Revolutionary styles. Sade was described as "very big, very fat, very cold, very heavy, a large mass, a vulgar, short man whose head seemed a shameful ruin." Needless to say, Sade never had his tongue cut out as in the film, though that image presents a good allegory for the supposed censorship of Sade's writing.

    The real Abb¨¦ Coulmier, played by the young, upcoming actor Joaquin Phoenix (he played the Roman emperor Commodus in the film Gladiator), was, unlike the portrayal in the movie, already sixty-one years of age -two years younger than Sade-when Sade arrived at Charenton. Fran?ois Simonet de Coulmier was a defrocked priest and moderate Jacobin member of the Constituent Assembly. Unlike the good-looking young actor who portrays him, Coulmier in real life was described as a "sort of gnome with gnarled legs." Coulmier was apparently 4 feet tall (just about the height the film makes the 5' 6" Napoleon appear), hunchbacked, with twisted legs, bulging eyes and an oversized head - not quite the handsome young abb¨¦ of the film. Coulmier and Sade "shared a common taste for women and libertinage, [and] a pronounced penchant for pleasures of all kinds..." Like Sade, Coulmier was a dandy (in spite of his looks), with refined ancien regime manners (in spite of his revolutionary leanings) and was a bit of a snob. Coulmier, who had gone into hiding during the height of the Terror, rallied early to Napoleon's cause and received the coveted Legion of Honor from Napoleon.

    Coulmier's semi-enlightened administration of Charenton was of more concern to France's medical establishment, who opposed Coulmier because he wasn't a medical doctor, than of Napoleon's government. It was Coulmier who advocated the use of the so-called "terror baths", which were in use prior to Dr. Royer-Collard's arrival. Coulmier on taking over the asylum at Charenton retained many of the treatment practices which we would see as brutal, including locking the worst cases in a wicker cage, the use of straight-jackets and the "terror baths" -all blamed on Royer-Collard in the film. He also employed treatments that at the time were considered quite "enlightened," including diets, bleeding, and purges. After Napoleon's fall and the restoration of the Bourbons, Coulmier was relieved of his duties, probably because of his revolutionary past and given a government bonus of 35,589 francs. He was replaced by M. de Maupas, who was married to Royer-Collard's eldest daughter. Royer-Collard was not a committed Bonapartist, instead he had pronounced Royalist leanings.

    Dr. Antoine Royer-Collard, played by Michael Caine, became chief physician at Charenton after the previous physician, a famed gourmand, died from overeating (another indication that life at Charenton may not have been all that horrible). Royer-Collard, as a physician, had a professional rivalry with Coulmier. Upon his arrival Royer-Collard asked for the records of all the inmates -a not unreasonable request-- and Coulmier refused to forward them to the doctor. Royer personally disliked Sade and disliked Sade's special privileges, especially he presence of Sade's mistress and Sade's theater, both of which Royer-Collard though inappropriate for a mental institution. In fact, many of the inmates themselves disliked Coulmier's regime as much as they disliked Sade himself. One was to complain to the government, "what would you say about a hospital in which balls and concerts, and occasionally splendid dinners, are given to or three times a week, while unfortunate patients are treated like criminals, most of them bedded on straw like dogs, with a tiny bit of worn blanket for cover?" Compare that treatment with Sade's described above. The theater at Charenton continued to operate until a year after Sade's death. Although the majority of the minor roles were played by the asylum's inmates, the starring roles were usually played by professional actors from Paris. Numerous Charenton inmates complained of Sade's haughty, imperious, and brutal nature.

    The last of the film's major characters, Madeleine, played by Titanic's Kate Winslet, was also a real person. Magdeleine Leclerc, whose mother, acting as Sade's procuress was a mere twelve years old in 1808 and was only eighteen when Sade died; a fact that would have made the film Sade look somewhat less romantic to contemporary viewers. Magdeleine was paid 3 francs for each liaison with Sade, though the sixty-year-old Sade, who had a pronounced persecution complex (perhaps with good reason), felt the girl was taking advantage of him. At times he thought her "one of those spies, placed near condemned men, who attempt to glean their secrets" and complained of "her coldness, her insouciance in pleasure and in conversations." He also thought that there had been "more forthrightness and honesty in her when she was a child." Jealous of his young partner, Sade made the teenager promise to attend no dances, have no visitors and go on no dates.

    Sade kept detailed, though coded, records of his interactions with the young girl, recording that he first sodomized Magdeleine when she was about fifteen years old (he was reportedly also sodomizing a young boy from the asylum at about the same time). By 1814 Sade had noted in his journal that he had sodomized the girl more than 64 times, along with other sexual encounters with her. All during this time Sade's mistress continued to live with him at Charenton. By the way, Magdeleine was not murdered by the inmates of the asylum -a scene seemingly borrowed from the end of Weiss' "Marat/Sade".

    It was the government that ordered Sade to be deprived of the materials for producing additional writings after 1810 (Sade had been deprived of writing material while imprisoned in the Bastille during the ancien regime). Sade however continued to write, though he had some trouble obtaining pens, ink and paper. He continued though to keep a journal (a volume of which was seized in 1810 and another in 1814) and in 1813 he submitted a play to the Comedie-Fran?aise. In the previous year Sade had written a cantata in honor of a visit by Cardinal Maury, Archbishop of Paris, as well as a novel; so the attempts to curtail Sade's writing was not pursued very vigorously.

    Napoleon is played for laughs in his brief appearance in the film, sitting like a naughty boy on his oversized throne and conferring with his Marshals and court portrayed as ancient ne'er-do-wells. Francine du Plessix Gray has written the following on Napoleon and Sade "To what degree was the Emperor of the French involved in the decisions concerning Sade? By 1809, Napoleon was confronted with far more weighty matters than the repression of aging libertines....On two occasions, in 1811 and 1812, he would sign with his own hand the ministerial decrees that ordered Sade to remain in detention...[and] stated that he had "leafed through the most abominable book [probably, Sade's Justine] that a depraved imagination ever conceived: a novel that even at the time of the Convention had so revolted public morals that [Sade] had been jailed. One of Sade's sons, an army officer, had served with Napoleon during the 1795 Vend¨¦miaire uprising [and was later murdered by guerrillas in Italy] and a number of Sade's plays included couplets in praise of the Imperial family (perhaps in an attempt to curry favor).
    ...more info
  • "Plainly put, I don't expect to sleep ever again."
    A very pleasant surprise, Quills, is a film that brings to the screen a fictitious story based on an unlikely character, who happens to be none other than the infamous Marquis de Sade.
    The setting is Napoleonic France and Napoleon himself has decided to rehabilitate the county's most notorious mental patient, the Marquis de Sade, and prove to his people how able of a man/leader he really is. Subsequently, he instructs France's most prestigious doctor to travel to the insane asylum and work side by side the resident abbey/director in bringing about their task, which in turn will prove to be rather difficult...
    Joaquin Phoenix, Kate Winslet, Geoffrey Rush, Michael Caine, and the rest of the cast, have truly outdone themselves with their performances, which are outstanding to say the least!
    There are the slightest hints of Silence of the Lambs and The Name of the Rose, which when watching the film will become evident.
    The setting, the plot, the dialogues, the humor, and the music are all wonderful!
    In short, Quills is a movie definitely worth watching, as it will surely provide for an evening's entertainment.
    ...more info
  • Highly entertaining play on the nature of eroticism and repression
    This film is very good entertainment at several levels. First, the acting of Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix, and Michael Caine is super. Second, the plot is convoluted and never really predictable while the script is witty and cerebral. Third, the underlying theme regarding the relationship of eroticism and the forces of repression is certainly relevant for any democratic society.

    The Marquis de Sade, as played by Rush, is certainly not a very likable character, even if his sarcasm and wit propels much of the dialogue in the film. His eroticism seems somewhat dated in our day and age where we are bombarded with nudity. However, he reveals that the forces of repression in the state or in organized religion will attempt to repress the erotic, which lies very close to the center of man's existance. DeSade resists this repression as step by step his freedom of expression is removed and he responds with defiance. When deprived of ink and paper, he resorts to wine and sheets, then he resorts to blood on his clothing,and finally he resorts to feces on the wall.

    DeSade is balanced against two forces; a beautiful young idealistic priest played by Joaquin Poenix and a sadistic alienanist, Dr. Royer-Collard, played by Michael Caine. Phoenix plays a priest who lives in a state of self denial about his own passions and thus is vulnerable. When deSade refuses to cooperate, it is the loving priest who begins the frustrating process of removing one after another of his expressive outlets. However, in the same way that the priest can not repress deSade's self expression, the priest can not repress his own desires for Kate Winslet.

    Michale Caine's character is far more intact than is the priest. He is a sadist in his own right, torturing mental patients with all manner of devices. He appears to be vulnerable, like the priest, to his own inner sexual erotic demons. The doctor takes a virgin bride from a nunnery and keeps her captive in a gilded cage. DeSade throws this into the face of the physician in a most entertaining drama performed by mental patients, but the physician does not even blink. Thus we see the difference between those who are the servants of repression and remain in denial (the priest) as compared to those who relish the role of repression and are happy servants of a repressive state (the physician).

    High drama carries these themes forward with certain tragedy for the innocent and those the state wishes to crush. And yet, in the end, we are reminded that the erotic, always a force for freedom and expression, will alway rise against the repressive forces of religion and the state. Wonderful entertainment, great acting by top talent, witty and thoughtful dialogue, and an enduring theme well explored - and thus highly recommended....more info
  • AAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!
    We rented this movie one Friday night... We had decided to look for something amusing, but not something scary or disturbing... Walking past Schindler's List and other favorites of ours, we picked up Quills and settled down with our bag of cookies for what we had expected to be a serious, yet farcical drama.
    We ended up spending our night hiding behind each other wimpering.
    If your prepared for rape, torture, violence, blood, horrifying psychology, and traumatic sights, this could be a very good film for you.
    If you're not prepared for that, RUN AWAY....more info
  • A Deliciously Naughty Impure Tale
    A gorgeously shot, involving character study of the Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush, who else?), although highly fictionalized, shows the conflict between free speech, art and the moral and religious values that still plague society today. The infamous writer, while imprisoned in the Charenton asylum in the early 1800s, smuggles his sexually free manuscripts with the help of a lovely, nubile laundry maiden, Madeline (Kate Winslet), out of the madhouse to publishers, so that all of France may indulge in its contents.

    The Abbe (Joaquin Phoenix) who considers the Marquis a friend, and who loves Madeline with a passion, is torn, as he is a man of the cloth, bound by vows of chastity.

    Things change for the worse when a conservative, middle-aged doctor, Royal-Collard (Michael Caine) is sent by the emperor to silence and repress de Sade. But the doctor proves to be a hypocritical tyrant, who resents the Marquis for freely expressing what he cannot achieve himself. Royal-Collard takes an orphaned, sixteen-year-old innocent girl named Simone (Amelia Warner, exquisite star of A&E's Lorna Doone)from a convent as his bride and makes her a sexual prisoner in a secluded chteau. The story takes a turn again as the Marquis refuses to be silenced, the Abbe and Madeline are unable to control their passion, and Simone rebels against her husband, purchasing the works of de Sade and discovering true pleasure and love with a handsome young architect (Stephen Moyer). She then escapes the chteau with her lover, leaving a taunting note for her husband, causing him to unleash his fury on the Marquis and inside the walls of Charenton, leading to tragic and chaotic results.

    The casting of Jane Menelaus (real-life spouse of Rush) as de Sade's wife was pure genius; you feel that she still genuinely loves this man, despite his actions have had on her reputation.

    The tragedy that befalls Madeline is one of the most tear-inducing moments in the film, and the grief of the Abbe and the Marquis painfully echoes within in the walls of the desolate madhouse.

    An entertaining flick, with the conflicting perspectives regarding free speech. ...more info
  • Night entertainment
    Of famous de Sad story is interesting rather for its contemporary depicting then transvestites and sexual performances than of actions and historical issues real.

    If no other entertainment, it is good for watching from a bed nighttimes.
    ...more info
  • Who's running the asylum?
    America's most "European" director, Philip Kaufman ("Incredible Lightness Of Being", "Henry & June") once again aims his lens at a literary, historical romance. The "romance" in "Quills" is not so much about literal love and sex, as it is with the IDEA of sexual fantasy and the freedom to imagine and express it. This is not an idea that translates easily to film, but Kaufman still manages to entertain us without resorting to cheap titillation. The story takes place near the end of the Marquis de Sade's stormy life-spent in an insane asylum. Geoffrey Rush chews up the scenery as the decadent Marquis. Kate Winslet is the virginal yet free-spirited chambermaid who smuggles de Sade's infamous manuscripts out of the institution for outside publication. Joaquin Phoenix gives his best (least annoying?) performance as the young priest secretly infatuated with Winslet and somewhat asexually intrigued by the Marquis. The ubiquitous Michael Caine is the "doctor" (today we might call him a "government spook") sent by the King to destroy de Sade's literary career (with extreme prejudice). Stylistically, the film sometimes evokes one of Ken Russell's over-the-top biopics like "The Music Lovers" or "Lisztomania". The film does remind us how precious artistic expression is and why it is our duty to ensure that Church, State and Art always remain seperated (all hail Lenny Bruce and Bill Maher!)....more info
  • Wicked....but....Wonderful
    This review refers to the 20th Cent Fox DVD edition of "Quills"...

    I can think of several films based on historical events or figures that do not follow the facts exactly, yet are enlightening, entertaining and are considered fine films as well. Two of recent times that come to mind immediatley are "The Hurricane" and "The Insider".These stories gave us an insight into events that we may not have known about or paid little attention to until the film burst onto the screen. Here we have another story that although was inspired by the life and the writings of the Marquis de Sade is clearly defined as an original work by writier Doug Wright.

    In the late 18th century, we find Sade(Geoffrey Rush) committed to a mad house, as his literay works are so outrageously sexual and "sadistic", that he is accussed of inciting others to act out in evil ways. He, along with the other inmates, is cared for by the head of the asylum. a liberal priest, The Abbe du Coulmier(Joaquin Phoenix). Coulmier is a progressive thinker and allows Sade and the others artisitc freedoms within the confines of the asylum.

    Sade has a passion for writing and is smuggling his provacative stories out with a beautiful young laundry maid(Kate Winslet) who has befriended him.They are published and all of France is is eager to read them. Napolean is appalled and appoints Dr. Royer-Collard (Michael Caine) to oversee the activities at the asylum. Collard's methods and thinking prove to be as cruel as any the Marquis could write about.

    The Abbe trying to cooperate begins by taking away Sade's writing material, all his quills and ink, and eventually all of Sade's belongings. Sade becomes obsessed with wanting the freedom to write and goes to great extremes, using first wine, then his own blood and eventually other body excrements to accomplish what he feels is his right.
    The more they try to stop him, the more obsessive he becomes. It is also interesting to note that, as these books became banned, the more the masses clamored for them.

    Directed by Phillip Kaufman, this film has alot to offer and poses many questions to the viewer. It does not glorify the Marquis de Sade, nor does it make him the extreme villan. So was Sade a madman, or pioneer for freedom of speech? Can the freedom to write pornographic material incite others to act out their agressions? And if so, are these traits already within those persons? These are issues that are still prevalant today. The story of "The People vs Larry Flint" comes to mind as a more contemporary case.

    The film is wonderfully made and acted.It is cutting edge and makes great use of the Marquis' wickedness, his wit and his prose. There are stories within stories.All the performances were exquiste and I especially thought Joaquin Phoenix's performance was outstanding. The cinematography and costumes add greatly to this period piece. Also adding their wonderful talents are Billie Whitelaw as Madame Le Clerc and Jane Menelaus as Renne Pelagie(Sade's wife). Jane is Geoffrey Rush's real life wife and their chemistry exudes on the screen.The movie was honored with Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor(Phoenix) form the National Board of Review.

    There are some disturbing as well as some sexual scenes, so this film may not be for everyone.

    A terrific DVD package. First of all it is a beautiful transfer. The film is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen(1.85:1) and is clear and sharp with excellent colors. Sound set-up gives the choice of 5.1 Surround or Stereo surround(Dolby)and everything is clear and distinct. There are 3 featurettes and some very enlightening commentary by the writer(Wright). It may be viewed in French(Stereo) and has subtitles in English and Spanish.

    Was the Marquis de Sade a raving lunatic or a great literary figure? You decide....

    Thanks and enjoy......Laurie

    recommended reading:The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat As Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of The Marquis de Sade (or Marat Sade)...more info
  • "To know virtue, we must aquaint ourselves with vice."
    "Quills" tells of the last days of the infamous Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush), who wrote erotic stories that shocked and delighted readers in 18th century France. He is living a rather privileged life as an inmate in an asylum run by a sympathetic cleric (Joaquin Phoenix), where he produces his plays for the nobility. Sade is allowed to write, but not to publish; however, a young laundry maid (Kate Winslet) admires him and smuggles his work out of the asylum. The Emperor, Napoleon, dislikes his books and orders that Sade be stopped once and for all. Sade's paper, ink, and quills are confiscated, and the cruel Dr. Royer-Collard (Michael Caine) is sent to oversee the asylum.

    The dialogue is literate and elegant and the acting is first-rate. Rush is dazzlingly flamboyant, Winslet is winsome and sweet, Phoenix is noble and earnest, and Caine is despicably cruel. The story and the brutal way it is presented, however, were repellant to me, and I found it difficult to watch. If cruelty offends you, you probably won't like "Quills."

    Kona...more info
  • I wonder if someone stuck a quill up Marques arse would he
    find it sexual? That's a question to ponder. Although I would doubt a 21 century reader would find any of his writings sensual or sexual or even mildly perverse anymore. I hope that the real Marques was better looking than Geoffrey Rush but most wealthy people of that era were ugly and smelly. He played deSade with plenty of smirkery and snide remarks that I'm sure the real Marques is smiling up or down at him with great affection. The real treat was Joaquim, he's really grown as an actor. His repressed priest character was very well acted. I enjoyed this movie, but I'm not sure how much of it is accurate....more info
  • still amazing!
    Absolutely one of the best history films. Kate Winslet and Geoffrey Rush, who can beat this combination! The story of Marquis de Sade with the turn you would never expect. It wasn't a box office hit, that's why it is worth of watching. Over and over....more info
  • A good film, but should have been a lot better....spoilers....
    This is a good, thought not great, movie. I was rather disappointed in its simplifying of the life of Donatien Alphonse Francois de Sade, aka the Marquis de Sade, into a rather boring, staid debate on free speech and its limits (or whether it should have any limits). Contrary to popular belief, de Sade was a much more complex figure than people give him credit for. While he was an indulgent libertine for most of his life, when he decided to start writing (at a comparitively late age), he threw himself into it totally and wrote some of the most startling and terrifying literature ever written. He was a great writer, though an incredibly bleak, twisted one. This film just seems to concentrate on the usual "individual freedom vs. the state" stuff, along with "artistic freedom", and honestly, it's boring. It's almost like they tried to sugarcoat de Sade, which is not the thing to do with him. Not to mention de Sade did not die like he did in this film. Nothing like that. De Sade died rather quietly, not chewing on a rosary while in the arms of the inquistor (Michael Caine's character).

    The film is very well shot, with excellent performances by all, especially Geoffrey Rush as de Sade and Michael Caine as his main tormentor. It's directed by Philip Kaufman, a very underrated director who has made many extraordinary films (Henry and June and The Right Stuff for example). This is not an abysmal film, but it's nowhere what it shoudl be. It's a tame biography of one of the most notorious (yet brilliant) writers ever to be seen by humanity. Being a student of de Sade, I have to take exception with the rather simplistic way this story was rendered, and honestly, Kaufman should have known better.
    ...more info
  • Where do your darkest fantasies lie?
    This is a remarkably good movie around the historical charactor Marquis De Sade. Unknown to many people this is no fictional charactor. Rush does an amazing job protraying the keeness of the deep charactoristics invovled in such a role. The disturbingly erotic senses invoked in this chilling production really make you think if you don't get deep into the movie you may just get disgusted instead of intreagued. I would recommend this movie to a select group who may truely appriciate this masterpiece, but it's something everyone should see someday....more info
  • An erotic and emotional journey, never fails to overwhelm you!
    To be frank I didn't know a lot about Geoffrey Rush neither did I keep much expectations from this film. Now, I cannot deny at all that he is indeed a true artist and an excellent actor, he potrayed 'Marquis de Sade' really well and, simply an amazing performence by him, keen enough to overwhelm the viewer totally. Kate Winslet at her sexiest, her charimsa is easily shown in screen, she was just plain gorgeous, probably one of her best performences ever. Billie Whitelaw, as most are familiar with her as a charismatic actress, delivers a good performence even though her appearence was very brief. Last but not the least, Michael Caine who potrayed the 'Doctor' really well, his performence is beyond words. Almost everyone delivers a worthy performence. I have always been fascinated by movies potraying the 18th Century, "Quills" is erotc, steamy, a little disturbing, nevertheless, wildly entertaining if you appreciate the film more of an Entertainment and less of a Historical Biography of 'Da Sade'. The cinematography, the musical score, the sets are beautifull. "Quills" is a film definately to watch out for, worth appreciating for the wonderfull cast-performences. ...more info