'Unraveling Quills' - 2



Kaufman: In all the history of literature, there's probably not a more extreme writer, to this day, than the Marquis de Sade.
[Madeleine asks Sade about his latest story] Is it awfully violent? [Sade] Most assuredly. [Madeleine] And terribly erotic? [Sade] Fiendishly so.
I just became enthralled with the whole project, once I read Doug Wright's script, which won some Obie Awards. It was interesting, exciting and funny.


Screenwriter Doug Wright: The Marquis de Sade is interred at the Charenton Asylum and writing such extreme pornography, that they confiscated his parchment and his quill pens.
[Sade pleads with Abbe to allow his to keep his quills] I'll die of the loneliness. I've no company but the characters I create.

That was the seed of a really great story because it raises all kinds of questions about the incendiary nature of art and what happens when you deny a really volatile, even dangerous mind a means of expression.
[Sade to Abbe, after losing his writing tools] Damn you, Abbe! Have you no true sense of my condition? Of its gravity? My writing is involuntary, like the beating of my heart.

Rush: There's something just exhilarating and cleansing about seeing this kind of taboo material placed in such a wild and wonderful dramatic form.
[Abbe gives his opinion about Justine to Sade] It's not even a proper novel. It's nothing but an encyclopedia of perversions. Frankly, it's even failed as an exercise in craft. The characters and wooden, the dialogue is inane, not to mention the endless repetition of words like 'nipple' and 'pikestaff'. [Sade] There I was taxed, it's true.

Wright: A lot of people don't know Sade at all. Other people know that we get the term 'sadism' from his name, but not much more. But, I think he's a sexy subject.
[Madeleine asks to read Sade's latest story] A kiss for each page. [Madeleine] Must I administer them directly, or might I blow them? [Sade] The price, my coquette, is every bit as firm as I am. [Madeleine] Oh, you. You talk the same as you write.

Kaufman: This, for me, was sort of a dream team, really. I mean, I couldn't have asked for finer actors. Like the strength of Geoffrey Rush, who I consider one of the greatest living actors. There's something powerful to be said for the Marquis de Sade.

Rush: I'm really pursuing Phil Kaufman's obsession with the man as a dangerous writer that no one is brave enough to confront what he's actually talking about. And that's the mystique about Sade.
[Sade with Abbe] Conversation, like certain portions of the anatomy, always runs more smoothly when it's lubricated.

Winslet: He's sort of like, you know, the Mick Jagger of the asylum. He's hidden somewhere, and he's this kind of famous, secret, sort of special person that no one else is allowed to communicate with, largely because he's meant to be so dangerous.

Kaufman: Kate Winslet's an extraordinary actress. It's hard to believe that she was only 23 when she made this film.

Winslet: I was reading lots and lots of scripts, and this one just struck me, really. I mean, Doug Wright, you know, a first time features writer, having come from the theater. And it's just brilliant.


[Madeleine explains to Abbe her presence in Sade's cell] Old lech forgot himself, thought I was a character in one of his nasty stories. [Abbe] Madeleine… [Madeleine] Yes, Abbe? [Abbe] The next time you feel the urge to visit the Marquis, I hope you'll come to confession instead.




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