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Quintet (1979)

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Reviews: 59 user | 31 critic

During a future ice age, dying humanity occupies its remaining time by playing a board game called "Quintet." For one small group, this obsession is not enough; they play the game with living pieces ... and only the winner survives.



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Title: Quintet (1979)

Quintet (1979) on IMDb 5.2/10

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Complete credited cast:
Saint Christopher
Vivia, Essex's Wife
Nina van Pallandt ...
Deuca (as Nina Van Pallandt)
David Langton ...
Thomas Hill ...
Francha (as Tom Hill)
Monique Mercure ...
Redstone's Mate
Maruska Stankova ...
Anne Gerety ...
Michel Maillot ...
Max Fleck ...
Wood Supplier
Françoise Berd ...
Charity house woman


In the distant future the world is in the grip of another ice age. A city originally built to house five million people is now in its death throes as the relentlessly advancing glacier is slowly crushing the metropolis's steel infrastructure. The relatively few surviving fur-clad inhabitants, perhaps thousands, perhaps only hundreds, drift aimlessly in their grim, drab world, awaiting their inevitable fate as they try to survive from day to day with scavenged firewood and minimal diet. Their only solaces are booza, an alcoholic drink distilled from moss, and Quintet, a seemingly innocuous board game for six players. The only other surviving mammals are roving packs of hungry mastiffs which roam the city's corridors and quickly dispose of the remains of the dead. Newly arrived from the south is Essex with his pregnant wife Vivia, seeking shelter in the doomed city only to find it populated by people middle-aged or older. They had supported themselves by hunting seals, but now that the ... Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

game | board game | ice age | future | drink | See more »


One man against the world.


Drama | Mystery | Sci-Fi


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

24 August 1979 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Quintet  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Some movie posters for the film formed a dagger out of the letter "t" in the film's one-word "Quintet" title-logo. See more »


Essex: Tell me, is Saint Christopher as good a player as they say he is?
Grigor: He is good, but too serious
Essex: and not very talkative.
Grigor: Talk? Oh, if it is talk you want, come with me Redstone
[Essex is passing as Redstone]
Grigor: ; I know a place. We can have drinks, and talk...
See more »


Referenced in The Directors: The Films of Robert Altman (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

End of Surrealist Trilogy

When Robert Altman's relations with 20th Century-Fox were increasingly worsening, he made "Quintet" and "HealtH", sold his production company Lion's Gate, and started shooting Jules Feiffer's script of "Popeye" for Disney and Paramount, a move that in a way signaled a rupture with his previous cinema, centered on the survey of American institutions and film genres. "Quintet" is a cryptic, enigmatic science-fiction drama that takes place in a decimated, permanently cold world. A hunter (Paul Newman) and his pregnant wife (Brigitte Fossey) arrive to the only community of human survivors. The woman is killed —eliminating the possibility of new life— and the hunter participates in a game called quintet, associated (as it has been said somewhere else) with five stages of life: the pain of birth, the strain of maturation, the guilt of existence, the terror of aging, and the finality of death. Altman himself invented the game (which I never understood, to tell the truth, but I could not care less), and the player that loses must die in real life, as the hunter, who has to fight for his life. Photographed by Jean Boffety with a permanent filter that diffuses the corners of the frame, and shot almost entirely inside the abandoned installations of Expo 67 in Montréal (except for the opening and ending, photographed in frozen exteriors), duplicating the feeling of loss and ruin, while the wardrobe adds the sensation of timelessness and worldliness, "Quintet" is a nihilistic vision of the world that some see as the third film of a surrealist trilogy, also conformed by Altman's "Images" and "3 Women". Besides American Newman and French Fossey, the international cast includes Spaniard Fernando Rey, Italian Vittorio Gassmann, Swedish Bibi Andersson, and Danish Nina Van Pallandt. An attractive cinematic experience, it is science fiction "a la Altman", who was not precisely a master of all genres, but a filmmaker who liked to revise them and come out with something else, usually interesting.

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