Marquis (film)  

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Godverdomme!--Willem Von Mandarine

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Marquis (1989) Franco-Belgian film directed by Henri Xhonneux, based on the life and writings of the Marquis de Sade. All the actors wear animal masks, designed by Jacques Gastineau and their voices are dubbed. There are a few scenes involving clay animation.

The tagline used in the US release was, "A bizarre tale of sex, lust, and the French Revolution."




Freely inspired by the internment of Marquis de Sade in the Bastille, of which the script and art direction were taken care of by Roland Topor, it merrily mixes historical fact of the French Revolution, and philosophical ruminations of human nature confronted with its basic instincts.

A mix of real life action and animation, the film bathes in an fantasmatic atmosphere where Sade's sadism are toned down by humour.

Full plot

In pre-revolutionary France, the canine Marquis de Sade sits in jail working on his writing and having conversations with his penis which has a face and is named Colin. When Colin is not whining about his need for stimulation and espousing his impulsive philosophies, he is "telling stories" that make up Marquis' work (some of which is illustrated via clay animation).

Marquis was imprisoned for allegedly defecating on a cross, however he is also accused of raping and impregnating the bovine Justine. The latter is a plot by the camel-headed priest Don Pompero and the cocky Gaetan De Preaubois try to keep secret the fact that Justine's rapist was actually the King of France.

Meanwhile, the revolutionaries prepare to stage a coup and depose the king. Several of the inmates are also political prisoners leading to several failed escape attempts which land the inmates in the Bastille dungeon. They are eventually freed, however, by the revolutionaries.

Colin runs away with one of the revolutionaries leaving Marquis to continue his writing and to muse about his life in peace.


  • Marquis: a dog. Locked up for immorality (after having defecated on a crucifix in particular), he spends his days writing, discussing the condition and baseness of the human soul, and discussing with Colin, his thinking and talking phallus, who has a will of its own.
  • Colin: the talking phallus of Marquis, who has a face and a will of its own. Impulsive by nature, he reproaches Marquis for his idealism and his inaction in the face of their imprisonment.
  • Justine: a cow, naive and virtuous, raped and then locked up by the King of France after becoming pregnant with him. She admires Marquis for his intellect and talent.
  • Juliette de Titane: a mare of noble blood, domineering mistress of Gaëtan de Préaubois. She seeks to free Lupino, the chief of police, locked up for his revolutionary ideas.
  • Gaëtan de Préaubois: a rooster, governor of the Bastille, and lover of Juliette de Titane, follower of sadomasochism.
  • Lupino: a wolf, head of the royal police and responsible for the imprisonment of Marquis, and who also found himself under arrest after having seen Juliette de Titane and her revolutionary supporters.
  • Horace Pigonou: a one-legged pig, former charcuterie trafficker and Lupino informant, also locked up with him.
  • Dom Pompero: an ecclesiastical camel, confessor of the Bastille who plots with Gaëtan de Préaubois to have Marquis accused of raping Justine, and thus exonerate the King of France. He also seeks to appropriate the erotic writings of Marquis to publish them on his own account.
  • Ambert: a rat, jailer of the Bastille; bisexual and in love with Marquis, he dreams of being sodomized by him, which Colin refuses to do ...
  • Jacquot le Fataliste: a revolutionary parrot, lawyer and Member of the Patriotic Citizens Club led by Juliette de Titane.
  • Willem Von Mandarine: a herring, journalist from the Courrier véritable des Pays-Bas visiting Paris.
  • Orleans: a lion, Duke of Orleans and cousin of the King of France, who is ashamed of his royal origins.
  • Bernardin: a wild boar, owner of the “lAuberge du Rossignol blessé”, and Member of the Patriotic Citizens Club.
  • The Guard of the Bastille: a bunch of drunk and incompetent chickens.

Talking body parts trope

Marquis features extensive conversations of Sade talking to his genitals (and the genitals talking back to him), other fictions which employ the trope of the talking body parts are Naked Lunch (1959) by William S. Burroughs and the The Indiscreet Jewels (1748) by Denis Diderot.


"Que les traces de ma tombe disparaissent de dessus la surface de la terre, comme je me flatte que ma mémoire s'effacera de l'esprit des hommes." ..." --from Sade's will


"le pouvoir de détruire ne nous est pas accordé, nous avons tout au plus celui de varier des formes ... or, toute forme est égale aux yeux de la nature ....nos destructions raniment son pouvoir, elles entretiennent son énergie ... qu'importe à sa main créatrice que cette masse de chair conformant aujourd’hui d'un individu bipède, se produise demain sous la forme de mille insectes différents?..."-- this appears to be partly a backtranslation from the English translation of the a mass of flesh fragment, as found in Edmund Wilson's text


"la première et la plus belle qualité de la nature est le mouvement qui l’agite sans cesse ; mais ce mouvement n’est qu’une suite perpétuelle de crimes"--Justine [1]


"les passions de l’homme ne sont que les moyens qu’elle employe pour accélérer ses desseins"--Justine[2]


"la vie du plus sublime des hommes n'est pas à la nature d'une plus grande importance que celle d'une huître."--Justine[3]

From the claymation scene 31:20 - 32:15


Character Voice of:
Marquis de Sade François Marthouret
Colin Valérie Kling
Ambert Michel Robin
Justine Isabelle Wolfe
Don Pompero Vicky Messica
Gaetan De Preaubois René Lebrun

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Marquis (film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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