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July 13, 1808 at the Charenton Insane Asylum just outside Paris. The inmates of the asylum are mounting their latest theatrical production, written and produced by who is probably the most famous inmate of the facility, the Marquis de Sade. The asylum's director, M. Coulmier, a supporter of the current French regime led by Napoleon, encourages this artistic expression as therapy for the inmates, while providing the audience - the aristocracy - a sense that they are being progressive in inmate treatments. Coulmier as the master of ceremonies, his wife and daughter in special places of honor, and the cast, all of whom are performing the play in the asylum's bath house, are separated from the audience by prison bars. The play is a retelling of a period in the French Revolution culminating with the assassination exactly fifteen years earlier of revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat by peasant girl, Charlotte Corday. The play is to answer whether Marat was a friend or foe to the people of France. ... Written by
Glenda Jackson was nominated for the 1966 Tony Award (New York City) for Supporting or Features Actress in a Drama for "Marat/Sade" recreating the role in this filmed production. See more »
Marat, we're poor. And the poor stay poor.
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The opening credits - the play's title, stage credits and the actors appearing in the film - pop on the screen, one word at a time, until it is filled. The closing credits - the film's production staff - start off with a full screen of words; they then pop off the screen, one word at a time, until it is completely empty...just as it was when the film began. See more »
A very unusual movie, but French Revolution buffs most likely will have a better understanding of this ultra intellectual movie than most people!
Patrick Magee (A Clockwork Orange) plays the Marquis de Sade (the founder of sadism), who directs a play performed by people in an insane asylum as a form of a therapeutic psychodrama. The theory behind this approach is that the patient by acting can understand his or her psychiatric disorder and through acting out their traumas they are supposed to get cured. It a method still used today by psychiatrists. The Marquis de Sade is there as a political prisoner and traces the history of the French Revolution in the play he has written.
The viewer sits outside the bars of a large bathroom cell, where the play is performed, as part of the gentry who watch the play for entertainment. Charlotte Corday, played by Glenda Jackson (Lost and Found) in her starring film debut, has narcolepsy, a condition characterized by brief attacks of deep sleep. Corday wants to kill Marat because of something that happened to her mother. Marat was one the leaders of the French Revolution and contacted a skin disease while hiding in the sewers of Paris. He had to remain in the bath tub to keep his skin moist and had a nurse to care for him. Marat controlled the revolution by writing orders in his bathtub and then sending them out. Corday at the end of the play murders Jean Paul Marat in his bath tub with a dagger.
Interwoven throughout the play is the Marquis the Sade's interpretation of the French Revolution. The asylum warden, his wife, and his daughter are inside the bathroom cell with the inmates. The warden is constantly trying to maintain order and objecting to what the Marquis de Sade has put in the play. The inmates also interact with the warden's wife and daughter in many funny ways. There is one scene where the inmates pretend to be using a guillotine to cut off heads. When they cut commoners heads off they pour something red in a bucket, but when they cut the king's head off they pour blue blood in the bucket. Three of my favorite characters in the movie are a trio of people (two men, Kokol and Cucurucu, and a woman) in clown makeup who act as narrators and comic relief.
This movie is rated R, but there is nothing really in the movie that justifies the rating. The only "sexy" scene is when Corday whips the Marquis de Sade with her hair. One other character is a sex maniac who can't keep his hands off Corday.
This is a very interesting movie, but is hard to follow. I have the tape and a copy of the screenplay but I am under the impression that historians who specialize in the French Revolution should have a better understanding of this ultra intellectual plot. It is a screenplay that is very hard to understand. Perhaps because those people are crazy and are showing their perception of a reality that in my view would be different in the eyes of an average person. By the way the actual title of this movie is 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. A quote: "There is no revolution without general copulation, copulation, copulation."
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