The Marquis de Sade was a French revolutionary politician, writer and philosopher who gifted the world with his libertine novels – Justine, Juliette and Philosophy in the Bedroom. He also produced the 120 Days of Sodom – a masterpiece of transgressive literature – a work that the Marquis spoke of wanting to present to the world – “the most impure tale that has ever been written since the world exists”.
Much speculation has centred on de Sade’s life – that he held orgies in which people were whipped, tortured and depraved. His name gave us the word ‘sadism’ which means cruelty and violence and it is particularly associated with sexual practices that are extreme in nature.
From almost the beginning of cinema, film makers have been applying their Sadean aesthetics onto the silver screen. We can see this in Luis Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou (1929) with the infamous eye razor sequence – pure de Sade. De Sade and his works have been used over the decades to shock, horrify, titillate, provoke. They have been used as political and social commentary, in particular the right of freedom of expression and freedom of creativity.
You may find this whole concept unwholesome but I present to you 10 films either based on the life of the Marquis de Sade or based on his literature.
10. Eugenie de Sade (1970)
Eugenie Radeck de Franval lives with her stepfather Albert Radeck de Franval. He leaves a lot of porn and titillating material lying around the house in order to corrupt Eugenie. The pair have already displayed sex play together and sleep in the same bed sometimes, but Paul wants to take the relationship on a murderous direction. They kill hitchhikers but get bored. Aggravating the whole set up is a writer, who wishes to pen a book about the pair’s homocidal antics. What Paul doesn’t bargain for is Eugenie falling in love with a potential victim
Franco based the film on the Marquis de Sade’s Eugenie de Franval and used one of his favourite all time muses – the gorgeous Soledad Miranda for the female lead role. A lot less rushed and kitschy than the Franco films she is known for – She Killed in Ecstasy and Vampyros Lesbos, this is the way she should be remembered. Franco manages to pull off quite a stylish and effective little film – very coherent for him. The editing and camera work is not as frenetic as is usual for Franco and there is an excellent Bruno Nicolai soundtrack.
This article was first posted on March 6, 2013