Synopsis: 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.
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director(s): Philip Kaufman
Production: 20th Century Fox
  Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 41 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
124 min

Dear reader,|I've a naughty little tale to tell,

plucked from the pages|of history-

tarted up, true-

but guaranteed|to stimulate the senses.

but guaranteed|to stimulate the senses.

The story|of Mademoiselle Renare,:

a ravishing, young aristocrat|whose sexual proclivities...

ran the gamut|from winsome to bestial.

Who doesn't dream of indulging|every spasm of lust ?

Feeding each depraved hunger?

Owing to her noble birth,

Mademoiselle Renare was granted|full immunity to do just that:;

inflicting pain and pleasure|with equal zest.

Until one day...

Mademoiselle found herself|at the mercy of a man...

every bit as perverse as she.

A man whose skill|in the art of pain...

exceeded her own.

- How easily, dear reader,

- one changes from predator...|- No.

- to prey.

And how swiftly|pleasure is taken from some...

and given to others.

There goes another one.

Your linens, please.

Your linens, please.

- Move yourself.|- We're going outside.

Come on, Pitou.|That's right.

- It's breakfast time.|Good morning.|- Good morning.

- I'm going outside.|- Go on.

Stop doing that. Everybody up.

Your linens, please.

- Psst.

- It's me.

Careful.|The ink's still wet.

Now, hurry.

- That you, Maddie ?

Yes, Mother.|Here are the dirty ones for you.

Just, uh-

Just taking|the bleached ones out to dry.

Aren't you|gonna give us a hand then ?


Remember your manners.

Here it is.|It's the last chapter.

Monsieur Masse says|he'd like another manuscript|quick as he please.

- He can't print them fast enough.|- I'll pass the word on.

I'll pay you another visit with|a share of the profits once it's sold.

- I'll be waiting.|- Perhaps, one day,|you'll tell me your name.

All right, we're all clear.

- Thank you.|- Marquis de Sade's Justine.

Latest edition, straight|from the printer's. Justine.

Marquis de Sade.|Justine.

"Our story concerns|a nymph named Justine,;

"as pretty a maid as ever|entered the nunnery,

- "with a body so firm and ripe...|- Come on, boy.

"it seemed a shame|to commit it to God.

One morning, the bishop placed|his hand upon her thigh."

"'Holy Father, 'cried she,

"'I've come to confess my sins,|not commit them anew. '

"Heedless, the old priest|turned her over on his knee...

"and lifted her skirts|high above her hips,

"exposing the pink flesh|of her backside.

"There between the orbs|of her dimpled ass...

"lay a blushing rosebud...

"begging to be... plucked.

" Before Justine could wrestle|from his grasp,

" Before Justine could wrestle|from his grasp,

"this most ungodly man|took a communion wafer,

"the body of our Lord,|Jesus Christ,

and placed it on the girl's|twitching orifice."

Must I, Your Majesty ?

"As he loosened his manhood|from beneath his robes,

"the bishop muttered|a Latin prayer...

"and then,|with a mighty thrust,

drove it|into her very entrails."

The novel's lewd subject matter|and its overripe style...

reveal it to be the work|of the Marquis de Sade.

He composes his prose|from inside a madhouse.

Enough !|Seize every copy !

We'll torch them all on|the palace lawn in full public view !

As for the author, shoot him.

A note of caution, Sire.

We all remember what happened|to Robespierre, Danton.

Put the marquis to death and history|might even regard you as a despot.

But I am history.

Of course, Your Majesty.

Nevertheless,|cure the Marquis de Sade,

succeed where countless...

physicians and priests|have failed-

No one can fault Napoleon...

for bringing a man|to his senses.

Might I suggest...

an appraisal|at the asylum of Charenton ?

A rather notorious inmate|in her care.

I have the perfect|candidate for the job:

Dr. Royer-Collard,

a distinguished alienist|who's a staunchly moral man...

of impeccable character...

and iron resolve.

- My colleagues have|called me old-fashioned.

- Even barbaric.

But here we favor an aggressive|course of treatment.

- Quite.

I do not seek popularity|or renown, Monsieur Delbene.|Mine is a higher mission.

To take God's tiny blunders|and those He has forsaken...

and condition them with|the same force, the same rigor...

one would employ to train|a feral dog or a wild stallion.

- This may not be pretty,

but it is mercy|just the same.

A few more months of this,|and he'll be fine.

- It is the emperor's hope...

that you bring your expertise,|your proficiency...

- to the asylum at Charenton.|- I'm much better now.

Charenton ? The administrator|there is quite well-loved, isn't he ?

He's young, an idealist.|You'll have to be politic.

- You know how|I define "idealism" ?

Youth's final luxury.

Not so hard. Don't force it.

Let the quill guide you.



We mustn't|just copy the words.

It's important|that we know what they mean.

St. Augustine tells us that angels and|demons walk among us on the Earth...

and that sometimes they jointly|inhabit the soul of a single man.

Then how can we know...

who is truly good|and who is evil ?

Well, we can't.

All we can do is guard|against our own corruption.

So you'll practice reading|tonight on your own for me ?

'And so the professor lifted|Columbe's skirt...

"high above her waist.

"'Let me be your tutor,' said he,|'in the ways of love.'

"With that,|he slid her pantalettes down,

"down, down over her knees.

'And there,|nestled between her legs,

"waspink of the tulip...

as slick as an eel-"

We oughtn't to be reading|his nasty stories.

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Doug Wright

Doug Wright (born 1962) is an American playwright, librettist, and screenwriter. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2004 for his play, I Am My Own Wife. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Quills" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 13 Jun 2024. <https://www.scripts.com/script/quills_16469>.

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