De Sade (film)
|Directed by||Cy Endfield
Roger Corman (uncredited)
|Produced by||Samuel Z. Arkoff
James H. Nicholson
|Written by||Richard Matheson|
|Music by||Billy Strange|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures|
|Running time||113 minutes|
De Sade (German title:Das Ausschweifende Leben des Marquis De Sade) is an American-German 1969 drama film starring Keir Dullea and Senta Berger. It is based on the life of Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade, named Louis Alphonse Donatien in the film.
Keir Dullea, in his first film role since the 1968 release of 2001: A Space Odyssey, plays the title character in a film characterized by its psychedelic imagery and go-go sensibilities. As the dying Marquis recalls his life out of sequence, he is terrorized by his uncle and haunted by his own past of debauchery.
The middle-aged Marquis de Sade (Keir Dullea) arrives at his ancestral estate of La Coste, having escaped incarceration. In the theater at the castle, he meets his uncle, the Abbe (John Huston), who persuades him to stay to watch an entertainment that has been prepared for him. The play is a parody of the Marquis' parents haggling with M. and Mme. Montreuil over the prospective marriage of their children, leading to a flashback in time to the actual negotiations.
The young Marquis (called Louis in the story) flees the proposed marriage to Mlle. Renee de Montreiul (Anna Massey), but returns and marries her under threat of imprisonment. Louis would prefer Renee’s younger sister Anne (Senta Berger), finding Renee to be very frightened and cold to his charms. At an orgy with several young prostitutes, Louis begins to get very rough in his play and explains some of his philosophy to the women, leading to the first in a long series of imprisonments.
Released into the custody of his mother-in-law Mme. de Montreuil (Lili Palmer), Louis finds himself a prisoner in his own home. When Anne is sent away to a convent school, Louis begins liaisons first with his mother-in-law's protégé, Mlle. Collette, and then with an actress, La Beauvoisin, for whom he builds a theater at La Coste. The first play performed is for the benefit of the Abbe, who is chagrined to see that the performance is about his own misuse of the young boy Louis. In a flashback, the actual event is played out, the Marquis's later deeds and philosophy thus being given a cold-Freudian origin.
Louis proceeds through a series of flashbacks involving his father’s death, a mysterious and recurring old man, and the baptism day of one of Louis' own children, culminating in the scandal of Rose Keller, a widow whom he ties up and flagellates with a sword. Mme. de Montreuil is forced to pay Rose for her silence, and to send Louis back into exile at La Coste.
Louis continues to pursue Anne, and after an elaborate orgy where he is whipped into unconsciousness, he flees to Italy with the young woman. Returned to prison, Louis is tormented with visions of Mme. de Montreuil disowning Anne and his uncle the Abbe seducing her. Mme. de Montreuil visits him in prison, and tearfully tells him he has ruined her family and that he will remain imprisoned forever.
Back on the stage, a mock trial is held where the Marquis is accused of murdering Anne. The mysterious old man is present at the proceedings, and Anne herself appears to accuse Louis of her murder. Louis ruefully remembers Anne's death in Italy from the plague. An older Louis talks with Renee about their misfortunes and regrets, telling her he can find no meaning in life. At another drunken and destructive debauchery, Louis begins to see visions of Renee in the midst of his revel. The old man lies on his death bed in prison, crying out for Renee's forgiveness. It is revealed that the old man is the Marquis himself, following the young Marquis through his memories as he seeks his one moment of reality. Deciding to look one last time, the old man closes his eyes as the scene cuts back the middle-aged Marquis arriving at La Coste.
Among the original directors discussed for the film were Michael Reeves and Gordon Hessler. Roger Corman worked on the script with Richard Matheson but was worried about being unable to show the fantasies, and disappointing the audience if they did not. He walked away and AIP hired Cy Endfield instead. Endfield changed the structure of Matheson's script, making it chronological and turning sequences that were fantasies in the script into actual events.
Endfield came down with flu during filming and had to go to hospital. Roger Corman was called in to replace him for the rest of the shoot. John Huston expressed dismay that he had not been asked to direct the film. Corman later claimed that AIP did not pay him what he felt he was owed for his work on the movie, contributing to him leaving the company.
A record album of the soundtrack music by Billy Strange was released in 1969 by Capitol Records (ST-5170). It has never been released on CD.
In real life, Sade was meant to be baptised with the name Donatien-Aldonse-Louis; neither of his parents were present at the ceremony, and the name Donatien-Alphonse-Francois was given to him in error. In his life he used a number of pseudonyms and variations on his true name. During the French Revolution he called himself simply "Louis Sade."
- Behind 'The Broken Seal': Behind 'The Broken Seal' By A.H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 22 Jan 1967: 91
- Mark McGee, Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures, McFarland, 1996 p268-270
- Neil Schaeffer, The Marquis de Sade: A Life, published 1999.