Quills

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Overview

The Marquis de Sade was a man who liked to stir up trouble, at a time when his native France was in a state of tremendous political turmoil, and this historical drama examines how much controversy he could cause even under repressive circumstances. In the aftermath of the French Revolution, the Marquis de Sade Geoffrey Rush manages to narrowly escape execution during the Reign of Terror, and instead is sentenced to the Charenton Asylum for the Insane. Coulmier Joaquin Phoenix, the priest who heads the asylum, is ...
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Overview

The Marquis de Sade was a man who liked to stir up trouble, at a time when his native France was in a state of tremendous political turmoil, and this historical drama examines how much controversy he could cause even under repressive circumstances. In the aftermath of the French Revolution, the Marquis de Sade Geoffrey Rush manages to narrowly escape execution during the Reign of Terror, and instead is sentenced to the Charenton Asylum for the Insane. Coulmier Joaquin Phoenix, the priest who heads the asylum, is sympathetic to the political machinations that have put the Marquis in his care, and allows him not only to write what he pleases, but to stage theater pieces using the other patients as actors. Royer-Collard Michael Caine, a tyrannical doctor overseeing the mental institutions of Napoleonic France, is as outraged as the emperor when he reads Justine, a scabrous volume the Marquis penned while an inmate at Charenton, and he demands that de Sade be stopped. But Royer-Collard soon learns that stopping the Marquis from writing is not so simple; when de Sade's quills and ink are taken from him, he uses wine and even his own blood to write his stories. When these options are no longer available, he dictates his work with the help of Madeline Kate Winslet, a laundry girl working at the asylum, who is fascinated by the notorious de Sade, though she declines his frequent requests to satisfy his notorious sexual appetites. Based on the play by Doug Wright who also penned the screenplay, Quills was directed by Philip Kaufman, who previously documented the line between eroticism and literature in Henry and June and The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
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Special Features

DVD includes three featurettes, commentary by screenwriter Doug Wright, a still photo gallery, and U.S. and Spanish theatrical trailers.
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush deserves another gold statuette for his bravura turn as the Marquis de Sade in Quills, a provocative period drama that unfolds in an environment of madness and depravity. Rush portrays the Marquis as a tormented genius, confined in a madhouse and driven obsessively to commit his lewdest fantasies to paper. Kate Winslet, in her best role since Titanic, plays a laundress who smuggles his manuscripts to eagerly waiting printers, and Joaquin Phoenix is quietly persuasive as the progressive priest who tries to accommodate the Marquis and runs afoul of a tyrannical doctor Michael Caine. Screenwriter Doug Wright, adapting his own play, twists historical events and characters for dramatic purposes, turning the 18th-century asylum into a charnel house of chilling perversion and casting the Marquis in a vaguely sympathetic light. Director Philip Kaufman The Unbearable Lightness of Being is even less ambiguous: He sees de Sade as a martyr in the crusade for freedom of expression, and his keepers as deluded or sinister agents of a repressive society. While certainly titillating in its depictions of de Sade's fevered dreams, Quills doesn’t wallow in muck for sensationalistic purposes; it has a more serious message -- one that’s conveyed with consummate skill from both sides of the camera. The DVD edition includes three separate featurettes covering the film’s production and subject, along with a full-length commentary by Wright and a gallery of stills.
All Movie Guide - Michael Hastings
Philip Kaufman's taut, economical dramatization of the latter years of the Marquis de Sade may sacrifice historical accuracy in the name of high entertainment, but makes for essential viewing nonetheless, thanks in large part to the bold, uncompromising work of lead Geoffrey Rush. All of Rush's film work to date seems to inform his rendering of de Sade: the mania, desperation, and dogged conviction he displayed (with varying degrees of success) in films such as Shine (1996), Children of the Revolution (1996), and Elizabeth (1998) are all in perfect balance here. In a return to form after 1993's dismal Rising Sun, Kaufman seems determined to transcend the stage origins of Doug Wright's screenplay, employing cunning camerawork, convincingly decrepit locales, and crisp editing in order to keep the film's forward momentum from sagging. Still, packed as it is with clever turns of phrase and convenient plot developments, Quills could never be mistaken for a loose, realistic take on the vilified author's life (those in search of a more factual take on the Marquis should look to the 1966 film version of Peter Weiss's play Marat/Sade). Rather, Quills provides a juicy, almost old-fashioned moviegoing experience -- albeit with all the lurid sex, masochism, and graphic feces afforded by this century's censors.
New York Times - Elvis Mitchell
The elegance of Mr. Kaufman's direction and his handling of the cast make for the kind of euphoric stylishness that has been missing from moviegoing for some time.

The elegance of Mr. Kaufman's direction and his handling of the cast make for the kind of euphoric stylishness that has been missing from moviegoing for some time.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/8/2001
  • UPC: 024543016625
  • Original Release: 2000
  • Rating:

  • Source: 20th Century Fox
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Sound: Dolby Surround, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Language: English, Français
  • Time: 2:04:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Geoffrey Rush Marquis de Sade
Kate Winslet Madeleine
Joaquin Phoenix Coulmier
Michael Caine Royer-Collard
Billie Whitelaw Madame LeClerc
Patrick Malahide Delbene
Pauline McLynn Mademoiselle Clairwill
Stephen Moyer Prouix
Technical Credits
Philip Kaufman Director
Peter Boyle Editor
Julia Chasman Producer
Martin Childs Production Designer
Mark Huffam Co-producer
Peter Kaufman Producer
Steve Lawrence Art Director
Des McAnuff Executive Producer
Jill Quertier Set Decoration/Design
Deborah Saban Asst. Director
Sandra Schulberg Executive Producer
Rogier Stoffers Cinematographer
Stephen Warbeck Score Composer
Nick Wechsler Producer
Jacqueline West Costumes/Costume Designer
Rudolf Wiesmeier Executive Producer
Doug Wright Screenwriter
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 10 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(7)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Excellent film

    This movie is absolutely astonishing, and one of my very favorites. Throughout, you are completely at the mercy of how the director and actors wish you to feel. With only one truly hateable character (who is also excellently portrayed by Micheal Caine), all the rest are full of life and interesting. The ending is also dynamic, and in my opinion, one of the best parts of the film. With a cast the likes of Rush, Phoenix, Winslet, and Caine how could you possibly fail?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Amazingly Perverse and intriguing.

    I've yet to buy Quills, yet I can't seem to keep myself from renting it practically everytime I visit the video store. This movie portrays the Marquis de Sade as a tortured writer who will stop at nothing to express him lurid and perverse fantasies. Amazing film, and Geoffrey Rush is fantastic.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    The best movie in years!

    I loved the movie for all it was worth. I thought that the characters inthe movie played a fabulous role and the screneplay was the best i have seen in a while.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A literary genius

    Read between the lines of this story. See the human natures' spirit that refuses to be stilled. Ride the hidden desires of your own soul with the peronalities that are portrayed...perhaps you are one of the characters yourself?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Wonderfully original!

    I loved this movie! It is a wonderfully done film that has you fall in love with the characters. I do warn those who are squemish not to get this movie. You need to be open minded and ready for the story to take you to weird and unusual places.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Thoroughly enjoyed

    I thoroughly enjoyed this film; it's a pleasure to see something other than Hollywood's latest testosterone driven shoot 'em up movie or, conversely, some run of the mill chick flick. If you're scared that this film is all about being perverted, get over it, it's not about that - the film portrays the Marquis De Sade as a tormented genius who is compelled to write his stories, even in his own blood if ink is not available. He is not portrayed as a hero. In fact, he makes a terrific anti-hero. Anyway, buy the film and stop being so squeamish about the subject matter!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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