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USA: Fox Searchlight
UK: Twentieth Century Fox
Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Caine, Billie Whitelaw, Patrick Malahide, Amelia Warner, Jane Menelaus, Stephen Moyer, Stephen Marcus, Pauline McLynn, Edward Tudor-Pole
Director: Philip Kaufman
USA & UK: 124 mins
USA Rated: R for strong sexual content including dialogue, violence and language
UK Certificate: 18 contains strong horror, violence, sex, sexual violence and nudity
USA Release Date: 25 December 2000
USA Release Date: 24 November 2000 (Limited Release - Los Angeles and New York)
UK Release Date: 2 February 2001 (wide)
UK Release Date: 26 January 2001 (Limited Release - London)
UK Release Date: 19 January 2001 (Limited Release - London - West End)
You are about to embark on a gothic tale of virtue and vice, of comedy and terror, of love and shocking erotica, of brutal censorship and, ultimately, the uncrushable spirit of the human imagination.
Be forewarned. This is the imagined story of the final days of the Marquis De Sade, the writer, rebel and sensualist who explored the darkest, even criminal, impulses of human passions and was proclaimed at once among the most devilish monsters and the freest spirits the world has known...
Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush stars as the witty yet wicked Marquis De Sade, who is living in exile in his own posh suite at the Charenton Asylum. Here, he has befriended the progressive young asylum director Abbe Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix), a man ahead of his times, who believes in treating his patients humanely, providing means for creative expression. In this atmosphere, the Marquis has also found it easy to strike up a friendship with the comely young laundress Madeleine (Kate Winslet), who helps him to smuggle out his prolific writings for publication and whose innocent affections are equally enjoyed by the conflicted Abbe.
Then Charenton gets a new chief physician, Dr. Royer-Collard (Academy Award winner Michael Caine), who has been commissioned by Emperor Napoleon himself to cure the Marquis De Sade and stop the flow of his pen forever. Charenton soon erupts not only in a battle between doctor and patient, but between art and censorship, libido and inhibition, morality and brutality, passion and persecution.
For it seems the more the Marquis De Sade is prevented from expression, the more he is provoked.
Was the Marquis de Sade a vile pornographer or an oft-maligned genius? This has been debated since his death in 1814 by scholars, critics and artists and is totally contrary to his wish when he died that "all traces of my tomb will disappear from the face of the earth, just as I hope all trace of my memory will be erased from the memory of men."
Audio commentary by screenwriter Doug Wright, Three featurettes: 'Marquis on the Marquee', 'Creating Charenton', 'Dressing the Part', TV Spot, Theatrical Trailer, Stills Gallery, Fact and Film - text pages.