De Sade (1969) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Hounded by the police on charges of inflammatory writing, the once handsome Marquis De Sade seeks refuge in an abandoned family mansion. This colorful movie depicts DeSade's life from childhood to manhood. A life infamous for erotic behavior, going from woman to woman, seeking a love that eludes him.

  • The film begins with a screen of text explaining that de Sade was born in about 1740 and spent 20 years or so of his life either in prison or in an insane asylum. Recurrently throughout the film there are various incidents in which a party of officers from either the police or the army attempt to arrest de Sade. De Sade usually evades capture until near the end of the film when he is caught in bed with a woman (i.e. no horse to hand to escape on/with). The film has an episodic and (mostly) non-chronological structure. It portrays incidents from de Sade's childhood, adulthood, marriage, imprisonment, institutionalisation in an asylum, old age, and finally death. The episodes are alternatively filmed as dreams, reminiscences from multiple points of view, theatrical performances, hallucinations, and as actuality. Excerpts from de Sade's biography (some of which are controversial) include experiences/accusations of child sexual & physical molestation at the hands of the Catholic clergy, de Sade's criminal history in regards to accusations of physical abuse against him by a prostitute, de Sade's arranged marriage, de Sade's literary output in regard to plays, (obscene) stories, novels, de Sade's imprisonment for obscenity, assorted sex orgies, and his eventual committal to Charenton asylum for the insane (some years after the French revolution).


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