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Pierre Marteau's Publishing House


Philip Kaufman. USA/Germany 2000 - 124 min.

Also Known As: QUILLS - MACHT DER BESESSENHEIT (2001) (Germany)

Color: Color (DeLuxe)
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
MPAA: Rated R for strong sexual content including dialogue, violence and language.

Screenplay: Doug Wright (play and screenplay)

Geoffrey Rush (The Marquis de Sade), Kate Winslet (Madeleine LeClerc), Joaquin Phoenix (The Abbe du Coulmier), Michael Caine (Dr. Royer-Collard), Billie Whitelaw (Madame LeClerc), Patrick Malahide (Delbené), Amelia Warner (Simone), Jane Menelaus (Renee Pelagie), Stephen Moyer (I) (Prouix), Tony Pritchard (Valcour), Michael Jenn (Cleante), Danny Babington (Pitou), George Yiasoumi (Dauphin), Stephen Marcus (Bouchon), Elizabeth Berrington (Charlotte)

Plot Summary:

    The story is a bawdy tale in the tradition of Moll Flanders and Tom Jones. The setting is the 1790s in a mental asylum where the Marquis is incarcerated. He is greatly humoured by the priest Abbe Coulmier, a bleeding heart, who provides him with writing materials as a cathartic therapy. The laundress Madeline smuggles the Marquis' pornographic plays out of the asylum where they are devoured by the populace. The notorious novel 'Justine' falls under the gaze of the Emperor who is outraged by their obscenity. He sends Dr. Royer-Collard to cure the Marquis, whose treatments include thumbscrews, ducking stools and the 'comforting chair'. Deprived of writing materials the Marquis writes his plays in blood and Madeline takes great risks getting them published. The lecherous doctor claims his bride of 15 from the nunnery and then proceeds to ride her every night. Marquis shames Abbe by performing a satire in which the cuckoo's nest of patients lampoons the doctor and his cradle stealing. A love triangle develops between the Marquis, Madeline and Abbe. This ends in high farce and tragedy as one of the patients acts out the Marquis last play.

    (Source:, summary written by Simon Reading)

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