The infamous Marquis de Sade, confined to an asylum, directs the other inmates in a re-enactment of the bloody assassination of French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat. Glenda Jackson, Patrick MaGee and Ian Richardson star in... more » this terrifying descent into an eerie world of madness and murder. Full title: "The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade."« less
Jebediah Beauregard | Jackson Falls, Arkansas | 05/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is actually a filmed version of a play and this is obvious in the viewing; the director doesn't make use of all the potential of the medium, it's filmed all in one take (just as a play goes from start to finish in one go), and the scene transitions are abrupt and poor. That being said, this film deserves no other criticism; it is certainly the finest I've ever seen and, I would argue, a great movie in the English cinema. What makes it deserve such praise is that the acting is all very convincing and compelling, the costumes and staging are sublime and the script is, simply put, brilliant. The original title of the work fuctions as an apt summary: "The assasination and persecution of Jean-Paul Marat as performed by the inmates of the asylum at Charenton under the direction of the Marquis de Sade." Set in the Napoleonic era eighteen years after the French Revolution, the Marquis (imprisoned for both political and sex crimes) directs the mentally ill inmates in a stylized recreation of the murder of Jean-Paul Marat (a rabid Jacobin, confined to his bathtub by a skin disease, who wrote the most sanguinary Revolutionary propaganda) by Charlotte Corday (from a noble background, but actually a partisan of the Girondin Revolutionaries who had been purged by Marat's party). This is a highly cerebral play and, although the scrip (a translation of Peter Wiess' play) takes a very few liberties with the historical facts, a knowledge of the Revolution greatly helps in understanding and appreciating this sometimes obscure movie. There are real intellectual pyrotechnics in the debates between Marat and de Sade, and the Marat's monologues are filled with fine revolutionary polemics. Corday is very well played, and her scenes are some of the most emotionally intense. The brilliant script, which doesn't shrink from tackiling great Ideas, combined with the great execution make this a superb movie. Or rather film."
Intense, intelligent film
Westley | Stuck in my head | 08/18/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This 1966 film depicts the Marquis de Sade's imprisonment in a mental asylum and a play that he directs using the other inmates as actors. The story of Sade was recently related in "Quills," and that film is somewhat similar in tone, but not plot. Believe it or not, the film is also a musical! The "play" within the movie chronicles events from the French Revolution pertaining to Marat, and is put on for the asylum's leader and the local gentry. The local gentry are shocked at times, and the asylum leader interrupts the play several times with interjections concerning the play's radical ideas and how the gentry are depicted. As the play reaches its culmination, the inmates inevitably begin to stage their own revolution. The action is often confusing, but the emotions conveyed are so intense, that the film can be enjoyed on a visceral level. The direction of this film is quite brilliant, and it must have been pretty shocking when it was released 36 years ago. The acting is also very intense and realistic. Glenda Jackson has her starring debut here and is quite appealing, considering that she's playing a mental asylum inmate. The only quibble I have with the DVD is the poor sound quality. Even on DVD, the sound is muddled and the actor's dialogue is often unintelligible, especially during the songs. Unfortunately, the DVD does not include captions/subtitles, which would have helped immensely (there are no other extras either). A very worthwhile movie that could have been presented better on this DVD."
Shame on the DVD producers!
Joel | Watertown, Morocco | 01/26/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Everything positive the other reviewers said about the performance recorded in this film is true. But the DVD product is a disgrace. The film is grossly grainy, bad even as pan-and-scan goes (there are actually scenes in which a conversation occurs between two people who are BOTH mostly off-screen because the frame occupies the space between), and generally a shameful engineering job. I'm torn between the politics of saying "buy it so that a piece of real art can be 'voted for' with dollars" and saying "don't support the trash-marketing of a lousy DVD version, wait for the Criterion version.""
Citizen Marat, the hero and the butcher:
Timothy Randles | Ohio, United States | 03/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Peter Weiss' Marat/Sade as performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company under the direction of Peter Brook. (1966)
The cast and a history thereof:
The Marquis de Sade, as performed by Patrick Magee. What needs to be known of de Sade involves, primarily, his second stay at the asylum at Charenton, although, it an idea of his philosophy should be displayed here. de Sade was a hedonist who had been to the Bastille and Charenton before, namely, for abuse towards prostitutes and various others of either gender. He was viewed as a dangerous sexual deviant and spent a good portion of his life imprisoned, until the start of the French Revolution of which, he supported (possibly to prevent his own death.) He was a nihilist, but also supported a certain Utopian socialism, and had effectively became one of the earliest existentialists, though he is rarely regarded with such a title. At the start of the nineteenth century, Napoleon Bonaparte had him, again, imprisoned, residing in Charenton under the asylum's director
Abbe de Coulmier, as performed by Clifford Rose. Monsieur Coulmier was very liberal in dealing with the treatment of patients, allowing de Sade to set up a series of plays that were available for public viewing, within the fictional content of Marat/Sade the play in question is The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade. The play takes a novel approach to theater, allowing de Sade to interact and converse directly with the fifteen years deceased
Jean-Paul Marat, as performed by Ian Richardson. Marat is, of course, the focus of this play and his role in the French Revolution and the subsequent Reign of Terror are vital facts. Marat was a member of the Jacobin Club, a group of radical republican thinkers, directly responsible for these events, with the help of Girondists, less a political party and more of a group of like-minded thinkers. His body racked with a fever he threw himself into writing for the revolution, creating policy on dealing with enemies, declaring traitors and spurring the masses on in their bloodbath in the name of freedom. Much of Marat/Sade deals with the questions of de Sade concerning whether or not this bloodshed was worth it, or the right way to go about it. Many considered Marat a hero, though there were more than a few who considered him a butcher. Following the Revolution, Jacobin's spurred on the Terror, claiming that the enemies of France were not eliminated and were, in fact, in hiding. In summary (or rather, not quite in his exact words,) Marat claims that they wear the cap of the people, but their underwear is embroidered with crowns and that the lot of them are the first to scream beggar, thief, or guttersnipe when a shop or two is looted. This is what leads him to the idea that the new aristocracy is any who owns more than any other. He points out that one will keep a horse, another his house in the country and another his army. This, he claims, is contrary to liberty and freedom. These, he goes on, are the new enemies of France and the bloodshed continued, numbering anywhere from eighteen thousand to forty thousand dead. His writing would go on until he was visited three times by the assassin
Charlotte Corday, as performed by Glenda Jackson. Who had decided to assassinate him due to the mass atrocities he and his faction had caused, though, the final decision would lie with the arrest of twenty-two Girondists and, later, the denouncing of their leader Jacques Pierre Brissot. She was successful in her endeavor, as might be anticipated by the full title of Marat/Sade.
Major themes throughout: From the beginning, it becomes clear that this is no standard play, being a work of metafiction and delving into a play within a play. Through this medium, it allows Peter Weiss make light of the standard structure of theater and display a level of creativity, in the case of the film, that often goes unseen. Additionally the (approximately) true history behind this work is intriguing, bring to the foreground a brutality that is generally ignored in French culture. Furthermore, French society becomes reflected within the asylum at Charenton, the down-trodden going through a similar metamorphosis as the upheaval of their very society not two decades earlier. The real treat, the audience will find, is the rhetoric between de Sade and Marat throughout the play, each attacking the philosophy of the other, presenting questions each other and the audience. This inevitably leaves the audience to decide.
Marat/Sade is a rhapsody that should be made more available to a larger audience, creating within them worthwhile question and providing an interesting history at the same time: allowing the audience to see the brutal legacy of France, drowning the preconceived stereotypes of the country (at least within the United States.)"
Almost as good as the audio recording.
P. Micocci | Houston, TX USA | 10/20/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The only problem that I have with this production is that, for some inexplicable reason, they do the scene of "Marat's Nightmare" in pantomime, completely wasting one of the great portions of the play. The audio recording of this production, which used to be available on Caedmon, includes the scene with the dialogue intact. I would have given the movie version 5 stars but for this disappointing omission. Otherwise, it's an all time classic."