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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 18 wins & 41 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Royer-Collard
...
Madame LeClerc
...
Delbené
...
Simone
Jane Menelaus ...
Renee Pelagie
...
Prouix
Tony Pritchard ...
Valcour
...
Cleante
Danny Babington ...
Pitou
George Antoni ...
Dauphin (as George Yiasoumi)
...
Bouchon
...
Charlotte
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Storyline

The infamous writer, the Marquis de Sade of 18th Century France, is imprisoned at Charenton Insane Asylum for unmentionable activities. 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

Taglines:

There are no bad words... only bad deeds. See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

25 December 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Letras prohibidas, la leyenda del Marqués de Sade  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$13,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$7,060,876 (USA) (27 April 2001)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The tune that the Marquis de Sade keeps humming throughout the film is the French children's song "Au Clair de la Lune" by Jean-Baptiste Lully, the second line of which becomes increasingly relevant - roughly translated, it is "lend me your quill so I can write a word". See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

Marquis de Sade: [voiceover, as Coulmier writes] Beloved reader, I leave you now with a tale penned by the Abbe du Coulmier, a man who found freedom, in the most unlikeliest of places: at the bottom of an inkwell, on the tip of a quill. However, be forewarned, it's plot is blood-soaked, it's characters depraved, and it's themes... unwholesome at best. But in order to know virtue, we must acquaint ourselves with vice. Only then can we know the full measure of man. So come... I Dare you... Turn the page...
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Soundtracks

Au clair de la lune
Written by Jean-Baptiste Lully
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User Reviews

 
excruciatingly close to brilliance
29 November 2000 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

I haven't written a review on here in a while, but I felt as though I should write a few comments on this particular picture as I have always been fascinated by the Marquis De Sade. Perhaps my expectations were too high going into the theater to watch this film with an kind of unbiased mind, because I was let down. I went expecting what could have been a break-through film, that really could have said a lot about the society we are living in today, but it did not even come near to fulfilling those expectations. As just an ordinary film it was good. The writing was top notch. The performances were all very good, especially Geoffrey Rush who I believe is one of the most under appreciated actors out there today. I can't think of many film stars that can compare to his talent as an actor. The way he plays a character is similar to Peter Sellers, yet much deeper somehow. Geoffrey Rush did not disappoint at all and if anything is going to win an Oscar in this film it will be his performance. The other actors put in adequate performances, with Phoenix, Winslet and Caine seemingly going through the motions of putting in good, but hardly Oscar worthy performances. I should be fair and say that Caine had a couple of scenes that were gems. Also, cheers to newcomer Amelia Warner, I suspect there's going to be a bright future ahead for this young beauty. However, the writing and performances were not enough to make this a great film. What I think was most aggravating was how little we really learned about the Marquis De Sade, at certain points it seemed like he was hated just for being a wicked gossip, while at other times he came off as a dirty old man. The Marquis De Sade was an amazingly complex figure because his ideas were so perverse to the absolute extreme and yet his expression of those ideas was utterly brilliant. We did not see many of those qualities in this film at all. The story of the laundry maid was twisted and changed around, as were a few other characters in this story who were real figures. This made me ask, why couldn't this film simply have told the life of the Marquis De Sade as it was, rather than changing the true story into a fictional one that is far less interesting? At times I almost felt like I was watching "Disney Does De Sade" it was light and fluffy when it should have been provocative and erotic. I don't usually complain about how a film should have been made, but this one could have been much better.


27 of 48 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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