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276 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Rush gives a tour-de-force performance as history's most infamous sexual adventurer, the Marquis de Sade. A nobleman with a literary flair, the Marquis lives in a madhouse where a beautiful laundry maid (Winslet) smuggles his erotic stories to a printer, defying orders from the asylum's resident priest (Phoenix). The titillating passages whip all of France into a sexual frenzy, until a fiercely conservative doctor (Caine) tries to put an end to the fun, inadvertently stoking the excitement to a fever pitch.

Special Features

  • 3 Featurettes: "Marquis on Marquee," "Creating Charenton," "Dressing the Part"
  • Commentary by Screenwriter Doug Wright

Product Details

  • Actors: Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Caine, Billie Whitelaw
  • Directors: Philip Kaufman
  • Writers: Doug Wright
  • Producers: Des McAnuff, Julia Chasman, Mark Huffam, Melanie Woldt, Nick Wechsler
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: May 8, 2001
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (276 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003CXPV
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,648 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Quills" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 70 people found the following review helpful By L. Shirley on March 24, 2003
Format: DVD
This review refers to the 20th Cent Fox DVD edition of "Quills"...

I can think of several films based on historical events or figures that do not follow the facts exactly, yet are enlightening, entertaining and are considered fine films as well. Two of recent times that come to mind immediatley are "The Hurricane" and "The Insider".These stories gave us an insight into events that we may not have known about or paid little attention to until the film burst onto the screen. Here we have another story that although was inspired by the life and the writings of the Marquis de Sade is clearly defined as an original work by writier Doug Wright.

In the late 18th century, we find Sade(Geoffrey Rush) committed to a mad house, as his literay works are so outrageously sexual and "sadistic", that he is accussed of inciting others to act out in evil ways. He, along with the other inmates, is cared for by the head of the asylum. a liberal priest, The Abbe du Coulmier(Joaquin Phoenix). Coulmier is a progressive thinker and allows Sade and the others artisitc freedoms within the confines of the asylum.

Sade has a passion for writing and is smuggling his provacative stories out with a beautiful young laundry maid(Kate Winslet) who has befriended him.They are published and all of France is is eager to read them. Napolean is appalled and appoints Dr. Royer-Collard (Michael Caine) to oversee the activities at the asylum. Collard's methods and thinking prove to be as cruel as any the Marquis could write about.

The Abbe trying to cooperate begins by taking away Sade's writing material, all his quills and ink, and eventually all of Sade's belongings.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 7, 2001
Format: DVD
I had very strong reactions to this film, so that I honestly cannot say whether or not this is a very good movie or a very bad one. It might be most accurate to say that there are things in it that are extraordinary, and that there are many, many elements that I profoundly disliked.
I should perhaps first point out, what others have also mentioned, that you will learn NOTHING about the life of the Marquis de Sade from watching this movie. Ezra Pound once wrote of a book that it was so filled with errors that an errata slip should have been published as a companion volume. It would take either a full length book or a documentary film to start untangling the historical errors. The movie is, therefore, not a biopic, but a complete fiction whose central character is very loosely based on the Marquis de Sade. The main historical point worth mentioning is that de Sade lived a long life and died in bed of natural causes, with full use of his oratorical faculties.
The virtues of the film are many. One must begin with the look of the film. The film garnered an Oscar nomination for art direction, and it was a nomination that was richly deserved. There are a lot of "period" films, but few that will feel as realistic as this one.
Then one must proceed to the acting. Geoffrey Rush was simply Geoffrey Rush. I have often wondered if Rush has any limitations as an actor. Every role I have seen him in he has played an apparent ease and familiarity that few of his contemporaries can achieve. I wonder, in fact, if he might not deserve crowning as perhaps the best movie actor active today. And all the rest of the cast was quite superb, from Kate Winslet to Joaquin Phoenix to the least of the asylums inmates.
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89 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Christopher J. Jarmick on January 3, 2001
Quills is one of the best films of they year. It's adapted by Doug Wright from his Obie Award winning play and directed by Phillip (Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Right Stuff, Invasion of the Body Snatchers) Kaufman. It stars some of the best actors working in films today: Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix and Michael Caine.
It seems an odd time for a film which more or less romanticizes the last days of Marquis de Sade to be filmed and released-yet here it is. Although it's release is on a smaller city by city schedule, you'll probably want to make a point of seeing it in the theater.
Words are powerful things. The pen is mightier than damn near anything and creates more fear and controversy than anything as well!!! The pornographic and satirical writings of the Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush) are not only escaping from the Charenton Asylum for the Insane where the aristocratic Marquis enjoys a great deal of creature comforts courtesy of a benevolent Abbé Coumier (Joaquin Phoenix), but they are also being published and distributed throughout France, much to the embarrassment of Napoleon who at first wants de Sade shot but then reconsiders and dispatches the sadistic but morally superior Dr. Royer-Collard (Michael Caine)to insure that de Sade's pornography is not seen by the public ever again. The Marquis' writings are leaving the asylum with the help of a laundress named Madeline (Kate Winslet) who's infatuated with de Sade's talent and in unrequited forbidden love with the Abbe'. Thus, the main cast of characters has been introduced, and the play can now begin.
There's a somewhat overly tidy twist ending which though clever, wraps up everything so neatly we're reminded this has been a stylish work of fiction.
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