Marat/Sade
July 4, 2012 10:01 PM   Subscribe

 
Thank you. That's very intriguing. And timely, just after July 4th.
posted by Goofyy at 10:34 PM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


It is the apotheosis of YouTube!
posted by mwhybark at 10:39 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Great find. I've always loved this movie, now I just have to find a spare two hours to watch it. I'm also glad YouTube has lifted the time restriction so something like this can be seen in its entirety.
posted by Zack_Replica at 10:42 PM on July 4, 2012


Oh my gosh it's finally online. Watched this in an English seminar freshman year of college. It's a heck of a ride.

Special bonus link: Judy Collins Marat/Sade Medley from In My Life, 1966. Sort of a condensed version of the play in a way.
posted by zachlipton at 10:47 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, it's the whole thing?

I've read it, but never seen it. I'll have to watch when I have the time.
posted by hippybear at 10:49 PM on July 4, 2012


I watched this movie one afternoon when I was home sick from school at about age 14. What an education.
posted by misfish at 11:15 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Came for de Sade, got Sade.
posted by schroedinger at 11:33 PM on July 4, 2012


Such a perfect film.
posted by LucretiusJones at 12:35 AM on July 5, 2012


I think of this as the anti-"Jesus Christ Superstar"
posted by LucretiusJones at 12:39 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was just talking about this tonight. And then I got to thinking about the fact that the Marquis de Sade was in the Bastille until just a few days before it was stormed during the revolution. And then I got to wondering what it would have been like if the revolutionaries had opened the gates to the Bastille and found De Sade standing there, arms outstretched.

I think they would have closed the gates again and mutually agreed that they had made a terrible mistake.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:45 AM on July 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


The opening credits are a work of sadism in and of themselves.
posted by taff at 12:51 AM on July 5, 2012


On a related note, a post from 2005 (suffering from link-rot, alas) about the Marat/Sade’s author Peter Weiss.
posted by misteraitch at 1:01 AM on July 5, 2012


thanks, misteraitch. I literally started watching it as soon as I saw the post, and then got curious about the rigorous mind behind the piece.
posted by mwhybark at 1:05 AM on July 5, 2012


It's a very different look at de Sade, but the movie Quills is also worth seeing. Dark, intense, thought provoking and sexy in a really disturbing way.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:31 AM on July 5, 2012


I watched this at York University when I was in second year at Ryerson -- I guess '93 -- and it was literally one of the "door opens in your mind" moments in my life.
posted by Shepherd at 5:33 AM on July 5, 2012


There is also Marquis from 1989, a Franco-Belgian co-production featuring puppets and claymation. Most of the cast are portrayed as animals, and it can be, at best, described as "inspired by" the life and works of de Sade, but it does (as I remember) feature a number of moderately amusing dialogues between the Marquis and his penis.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:47 AM on July 5, 2012


My wife's parents took her, when she was a teenager, to a theater-in-the-round production of Marat/Sade where the audience was separated from the actors by a chain-link fence, but seated close enough to be touched.

Everybody was appropriately horrified, I think, although they do all talk fondly of the production.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:50 AM on July 5, 2012


a theater-in-the-round production of Marat/Sade where the audience was separated from the actors by a chain-link fence, but seated close enough to be touched.

That's awesome!
posted by hippybear at 5:55 AM on July 5, 2012


I find de Sade fascinating; he was far ahead of his time, more a creature of our era than his own. Of course he ended up being wrong about nearly everything, but much of his wrongness can be credited to the fact that he was a pioneer blazing a trail with few precedents. He was contrarian and extremist and had a finely tuned eye for corruption and hypocrisy, and much of his philosophy can be traced directly to a rejection of social norms which did, indeed, need rejecting. Sade just went gleefully over the top with everything.
posted by localroger at 6:00 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


We performed this a few months ago at our community theater. Even though this a notoriously conservative community it was very well received. I still find myself singing songs from the show in the shower
posted by JARED!!! at 6:16 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Great find! Thanks!
posted by mondo dentro at 6:46 AM on July 5, 2012


I read this in college, though I've never seen it performed, alas. But I loved the line, "And what's the point of a revolution without general copulation?" Still quote it from time to time.
posted by Cash4Lead at 6:57 AM on July 5, 2012


We performed this a few months ago at our community theater. Even though this a notoriously conservative community it was very well received.

Now, what does this say about the "Aesthetics of Resistance"?
posted by ennui.bz at 7:01 AM on July 5, 2012


Thanks for posting this. It's been years since I have seen this. A friend used to show this to her upper crust all-girls high school humanities class, and I often wondered what sort of conversation it provoked. I have the hopes that one of them might be here on the Blue and comment now.

crosses fingers
posted by grimjeer at 7:23 AM on July 5, 2012


The missing epilogue might be of interest.
posted by Phlogiston at 7:38 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh. I was just discussing getting a production of this together the other day.
posted by kyrademon at 9:01 AM on July 5, 2012


My old man directed this play in college when I was just a boy. One detail I remember is the costumer game my brother & me a bunch of chocolate to eat, and then had us wipe our messy hands & faces on the costumes to stain them.
posted by Gelatin at 9:05 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


The missing epilogue was of interest. Thank you for that.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:59 AM on July 5, 2012


> I find de Sade fascinating; he was far ahead of his time, more a creature of our era than his own. Of course he ended up being wrong about nearly everything, but much of his wrongness can be credited to the fact that he was a pioneer blazing a trail with few precedents. He was contrarian and extremist and had a finely tuned eye for corruption and hypocrisy, and much of his philosophy can be traced directly to a rejection of social norms which did, indeed, need rejecting. Sade just went gleefully over the top with everything.

You do realize he didn't just write about rape and torture, right? Or do you feel that if a man is a pioneer and contrarian, he gets a pass on whatever he does to underage girls?
posted by languagehat at 10:33 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the post. I've never watched nor read this yet - which is bad of me because the director, Peter Brook, is one of my artistic idols.
posted by dnash at 10:56 AM on July 5, 2012


I think Charlotte Corday was Glenda Jackson's first film role.
posted by jonp72 at 11:31 AM on July 5, 2012


There is also Marquis from 1989, a Franco-Belgian co-production featuring puppets and claymation. Most of the cast are portrayed as animals, and it can be, at best, described as "inspired by" the life and works of de Sade, but it does (as I remember) feature a number of moderately amusing dialogues between the Marquis and his penis.

I knew a guy who took his girlfriend to see this movie once. She made him atone for it by making him watch 3 chick flicks and 3 MGM musicals.
posted by jonp72 at 11:34 AM on July 5, 2012


Wow, thanks for posting this.
posted by homunculus at 11:52 AM on July 5, 2012


languagehat: > I find de Sade fascinating; he was far ahead of his time, more a creature of our era than his own. Of course he ended up being wrong about nearly everything, but much of his wrongness can be credited to the fact that he was a pioneer blazing a trail with few precedents. He was contrarian and extremist and had a finely tuned eye for corruption and hypocrisy, and much of his philosophy can be traced directly to a rejection of social norms which did, indeed, need rejecting. Sade just went gleefully over the top with everything.

You do realize he didn't just write about rape and torture, right? Or do you feel that if a man is a pioneer and contrarian, he gets a pass on whatever he does to underage girls?
You do realize he didn't just write about rape and torture, right? And that writing can be considered provocative and important, even if the ideas contained therein are largely detestable, and the author as well? One doesn't have to Godwin this thread to name examples.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:25 PM on July 5, 2012


This is one of my most favorite performances ever and is pretty much the foundation of my theatre pursuits. Thank you for the post.
posted by psylosyren at 2:46 PM on July 5, 2012


You do realize he didn't just write about rape and torture, right?

As a matter of fact, in real life de Sade was hardly the sort of monster he loved to write about, and all he really ever did was write (and write and write and write and write) and practice what we would today consider pretty ordinary BDSM sex.

The only incident where Sade was accused of harming another nonconsenting person was by a prostitute who accused him of assault for tying her up and whipping her. de Sade insisted that she had agreed to the play, but she had bruises and he was de Sade. I'm inclined to believe de Sade simply because he was de Sade, and if he was one tenth the monster some people think he was there would be more records of him getting incarcerated for actual sex and violence instead of his writings.

That woman was, incidentally, not underage.

He did of course deliberately cultivate his reputation, and in a very real sense you have been trolled by one of the original masters of the form. de Sade had no trouble finding people who were willing to participate in his games (I'm sure his parties would be quite popular over at fetlife today). His wife was loyal to him for an amazing length of time as he kept getting in trouble, mostly for his writing, and involving her in his sex play. As for the oftne awful stuff he wrote about, there is no evidence that he was like that himself.
posted by localroger at 2:56 PM on July 5, 2012


RAW's comments on the work - IIRC, he claimed that actually performing the play tended to drive the actors mad - But I never knew when he was {being serious, lying, seriously lying, lying seriously}.
posted by Orb2069 at 3:34 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


> You do realize he didn't just write about rape and torture, right? And that writing can be considered provocative and important, even if the ideas contained therein are largely detestable, and the author as well?

Yes, of course. You seemed to be approving of him tout court, not just of his writing.

> The only incident where Sade was accused of harming another nonconsenting person was by a prostitute who accused him of assault for tying her up and whipping her. ... As for the oftne awful stuff he wrote about, there is no evidence that he was like that himself.

This is not true, but I'm not going to bother arguing with you. Believe what you want to believe; I encourage others to do a little research and decide.
posted by languagehat at 5:14 PM on July 5, 2012


This is not true, but I'm not going to bother arguing with you.

[citation needed]

SRSLY. You might put up some evidence. I've read quite a bit about de Sade and he was no Gilles de Rais or Jack the Ripper. He lived in a violent and extremely hypocritical time and reacted by trying to outdo every excess he witnessed, but mostly he did so on paper. I notice you cut the bit I wrote about the prostitute, the only criminal action against him involving any kind of interpersonal violence that I'm aware of -- perhaps you have knowledge of some other?

I've done my research and that was the result I came up with. If you have some reason to feel differently put up or etc.
posted by localroger at 5:33 PM on July 5, 2012


And Netflix has Marat / Sade, which I've never seen, on DVD. Added to queue top position.
posted by localroger at 5:37 PM on July 5, 2012


Also, languagehat, flagged because "You're a liar but I"m not going to argue with you" is not an appropriate way to make your point.
posted by localroger at 5:46 PM on July 5, 2012


re: languagehat/localroger , thanks for bringing up this "libertinism as critique vs. perpetuation of social violence" argument. it's kind of relevant to marat/sade, or rather marat/sade exists in that particular schoolyard fight. i haven't seen it since i was 16, and the thing is that the "theatre of cruelty" has thoroughly permeated mass media at this point to the point where it certainly isn't and wasn't shocking.... just another aesthetic experience.

i also read de sade as a callow youth and found it sort of funny. but it's exactly this morass which extricated de sade from obscurity in the post-modern post war age.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:48 PM on July 5, 2012


[localroger: the youtube link is Marat/Sade, although granted it's only youtube quality]
posted by Ardiril at 6:03 PM on July 5, 2012


Yeah Ardiril I saw that, but I have bandwidth capped 3G internet. Watching it on the widescreen from the DVD will be much more pleasant.
posted by localroger at 6:09 PM on July 5, 2012


[I have bandwidth capped - How prophylactic!]
posted by Ardiril at 6:20 PM on July 5, 2012


but it's exactly this morass which extricated de sade from obscurity in the post-modern post war age.

I don't think this is quite right. Sade was never obscure in certain circles; I think it's fair to say that if you were not at least conversant enough with his works to argue about them, for most of the 19th century you were considered an unlettered schlup. Sade influenced a lot of people, if only by forcing them to think outside of the boxes in which they were raised.

My objection to languagehat is that he seems to think Sade was the kind of monster he portrays in his writings. What I've seen is a man who was imprisoned for half his life mostly for his writing, who only ever did one recorded thing that was even approximately violent, and whose apparently normal wife stuck with him through some fairly serious extremes.

Sades writings are obsessive in their drive to be as offensive as possible; he wrote and rewrote and re-rewrote apparently seeking some ideal of offensiveness that would prove the very impossibility of the idea of God. His most-rewritten work, Justine, was rewritten and expanded at least five times. Other critics have commented that Sade was much more obsessed with Justine, the good victim, than he was with his libertines like Juliette. This is much in accordance with modern ideas on the way sadomasochism works, although being an early adopter Sade himself was winging it.

But while there are real monsters in history and there were real monsters in the era of the French revolution, I have seen no credible evidence that Sade was anything but a modern pervert born before such things were well understood and confronted with a society of such depravity and corruption that he felt his own vice to be inadequate to the cause of supervening it. And so he wrote of fictional characters who were -- and wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and wrote, at tedious and often nauseating length. And once in awhile he might tie a girl up and whip her, which is a sin I've committed myself. From my modern perspective though I was a little more informed about negotiations and safe words.
posted by localroger at 6:20 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have bandwidth capped - How prophylactic!

Sadly it did not prevent me from getting the worm that hosed my computer last December.
posted by localroger at 6:25 PM on July 5, 2012


an unlettered schlup

A clarification here which should have been in the comment -- I am obviously talking about the wealthy and the intelligentsia here. Although his pamphlets were distributed to anybody during his life, his legacy was to be remembered by people who would never, ever admit they had read them when speaking to the proletariat.
posted by localroger at 6:36 PM on July 5, 2012


IAmBroom: > You do realize he didn't just write about rape and torture, right? And that writing can be considered provocative and important, even if the ideas contained therein are largely detestable, and the author as well?

languagehat: Yes, of course. You seemed to be approving of him tout court, not just of his writing.
No, I don't. If I didn't know better, I'd simply assume you weren't intelligent enough to understand the last sentence you quoted from me. Instead, I must assume you are intentionally misreading what I said.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:48 AM on July 6, 2012


> My objection to languagehat is that he seems to think Sade was the kind of monster he portrays in his writings.

No, of course I don't. Believe it or not, I understand the difference between writers and what they write. He was a vicious asshole, but not the kind of monster he portrays in his writings.

> What I've seen is a man who was imprisoned for half his life mostly for his writing

The key word there being "mostly." Unfortunately, the legal system of the day cared a lot more about immoral writings than about treating underage girls badly.

> Instead, I must assume you are intentionally misreading what I said.

My apologies. I was conflating you with localroger, who had made the comment I was responding to (and who clearly is approving of him tout court).
posted by languagehat at 9:36 AM on July 6, 2012


Languagehat, once again, do you have any sources? Because what I have read suggests that the portrayal of Sade in Quills was pretty fair. Yes, he was egotistical and sometimes took his own sexuality more seriously than we would today. But in most regards he was not in real life much different from other well to do people of his day.

"Treating underage girls badly" in a society where the solicitation of child prostitutes was considered not very exceptional is a rather tame starting point from which to arrive at Hitler - via - Godwin. Nothing I've read suggests that Sade's real life activities rivaled those of Casanova, or the pseudonymous author of My Secret Life. Sade did give himself a pass for his own misbehavior, which he felt he deserved because (a) what he was doing was not as bad as what was done by the corrupt and outright evil priests and officials who surrounded him, and (b) because he was honest about himself instead of being hypocritical as well as corrupt and evil.

Now, if you will recall I began my "tout court approval" of Sade by saying that he got nearly everything wrong, and the pass he gave himself for his infidelity would be part of that. His importance is that in the course of getting everything wrong, he forced people who came after him to consider their relationship to their desires and to society. Sade was one of the first and certainly the most vocal person to so totally question what, if anything individuals should expect from or owe to their society. The fact that hardly anybody agrees with his answer -- "Nothing" -- does not mean we don't owe him a lot for throwing the question open.
posted by localroger at 10:07 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


languagehat: My apologies. I was conflating you with localroger, who had made the comment I was responding to
Thank you.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:05 PM on July 6, 2012


the legal system of the day cared a lot more about immoral writings than about treating underage girls badly.

Eh, the problem is finding people of the past who don't have something morally dirty by our standards. For example Peeps, of the Restoration era diary fame, who left an invaluable historical record, took bribes, molested eleven year old girls and violently battered his spouse repeatedly. Rousseau writes that his craving to be spanked became so strong he'd run ass first at random women in the street, flasher style, and much ink is spilled over Jefferson's slave-mistress and the ethics there of. The number of great historical figures who owned slaves, fucked minors, treated women like chattel or at least perpetuated and participated a system of social inequality is without number and consent gets even more awkward to parse out when you're in the past and all your sexual partners have few, if any, legal rights.
posted by Phalene at 2:12 PM on July 6, 2012


> Eh, the problem is finding people of the past who don't have something morally dirty by our standards.

Sure. I have no quarrel with anything you say. But the fact that the past was full of stuff that we now consider bad and they didn't (at least not as consistently) doesn't lead me to give them a pass on it, especially since there were plenty of people even then who didn't molest little girls, etc. (I was a frequent commenter on the Pepys Diary site and often got into arguments with people who said we can't condemn Pepys, he was a man of his time, etc.) I often think about the fact that the future will consider lots of stuff we take for granted wrong and condemn us for it. There's nothing we can do about that; all we can do is try to live the best life we can given our necessarily limited perspective.
posted by languagehat at 10:43 AM on July 7, 2012


I often think about the fact that the future will consider lots of stuff we take for granted wrong and condemn us for it. There's nothing we can do about that; all we can do is try to live the best life we can given our necessarily limited perspective.

I hope you realize that that last sentence is exactly the basis of de Sade's personal philosophy. Exactly like a modern person who might decide that yes we are ruining the climate but it's too much of a bother to try to live without a car, air conditioning, and other energy hungry luxuries, Sade came to the conclusion that trying to be moral in a world full of so much immorality and corruption was a fool's errand.

It is not "giving him a pass" to feel that his embrace of this conclusion, which I happen to agree with nearly everyone who came after him is overly simple and wrong, is important because it moved what we now call the Overton Window very far in a direction away from both royal divine rights and social utility toward self-interested personal liberty. I strongly suspect the U.S. constitution would look somewhat different had Sade not been acting out in France while our founders were making regular trips there.
posted by localroger at 12:32 PM on July 7, 2012


especially since there were plenty of people even then who didn't molest little girls

Define "molest little girls" in the context of 200 years ago when the age of marriage was as young as 12. When that is part of the society, 11 year olds aren't really young by comparison, except by law. (c.f. modern age of consent laws and statutory rape trials involving sex between 18 and 16 year olds)
posted by hippybear at 6:57 PM on July 7, 2012


Archive note: that youtube link had 2800 hits when I posted this. 5 days later, it has 7200.
posted by Ardiril at 6:34 AM on July 10, 2012


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