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Quills (2000)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  25 December 2000 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 42,992 users   Metascore: 70/100
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In a Napoleonic era insane asylum, an inmate, the irrepressible Marquis De Sade, fights a battle of wills against a tyrannically prudish doctor.



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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 41 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Madame LeClerc
Jane Menelaus ...
Renee Pelagie
Tony Pritchard ...
Danny Babington ...
George Antoni ...
Dauphin (as George Yiasoumi)


The infamous writer, the Marquis de Sade of 18th Century France, is imprisoned for unmentionable activities at Charenton Insane Asylum. He manages to befriend the young Abbé de Coulmier, who runs the asylum, along with a beautiful laundress named Madeline. Things go terribly wrong when the Abbe finds out that the Marquis' books are being secretly published. The emperor Napoleon contemplates sending Dr. Royer-Collard to oversee the asylum, a man famed for his torturous punishments. It could mean the end of Charenton and possibly the Marquis himself. Written by Emily H and Janette W

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Meet the Marquis de Sade. The pleasure is all his. See more »


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content including dialogue, violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:


| |



Release Date:

25 December 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Letras prohibidas, la leyenda del Marqués de Sade  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$13,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$249,383 (USA) (24 November 2000)


ESP 65,173,251 (Spain) (29 June 2001)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Every single line from the script that was cut made it into the film either written on de Sade's clothing, the bed sheets or in his prison cell at the end. See more »


When Madeleine is putting on her dress after getting her wounds clean, she slips her arm into the sleeve twice. See more »


Marquis de Sade: What you need, darling, is a long, slow screw
See more »


References Marat/Sade (1967) See more »


Au clair de la lune
Written by Jean-Baptiste Lully
See more »

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User Reviews

Philip Kaufmann has produced yet another amazing piece of work
14 May 2001 | by (Saint Paul, MN) – See all my reviews

Quills is one of the best films of 2000, in my reckoning, second best only to You Can Count on Me. It is one of the most brilliantly directed, acted, produced, and written films I've seen in a very long time. There is not a (major) character in this film that is not very complex, and the issues at stake are utterly important.

Perhaps the greatest success of the film is how well it works on commenting both on its own time and situations and our own world today. The issues of free speech, creativity, dementia, corporal punishment, religion, sexuality and especially politics are woven into the film in amazing ways. Yes, politics, for it works as an allegory to the recent presidential scandals.

There are two flaws, one major, one semi-major. The semi-major one involves the epilogue. It is not bad, but it is unnecessary. Perhaps the best way to describe it is superfluous and predictable. The major flaw would destroy any lesser film. Here, it is hardly noticable. Still, if one contemplates it, there is no getting around it. There is never a believable reason why Madeleine should be so helpful to the Marquis de Sade. They present a tiny one, but it is not good enough.

Still, with its successes elsewhere, these flaws do not weaken this film. Without them, it would have been perfect. With them, well, just because it is flawed, doesn't mean it isn't a masterpiece. 10/10

34 of 45 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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