I've a naughty little tale to tell...
...plucked from the pages ofhistory. Tarted up, true.
But guaranteed to stimulate the senses.
The story ofMademoiselle Renard...
...a ravishing young aristocrat...
... whose sexualproclivities ran the gamut from winsome to bestial.
Who doesn't dream ofindulging every spasm oflust...
...feeding each depraved hunger?
Owing to her noble birth...
...Mademoiselle Renard was granted full immunity to do just that.
Inflicting pain andpleasure with equal zest...
...until one day...
...Mademoiselle found herself at the mercy ofa man...
...every bit as perverse as she.
A man whose skill in the art ofpain...
...exceeded her own.
How easily, dear Reader...
...one changes from predator...
And how swiftly pleasure is taken from some...
...and given to others.
Your linens, please.
Your linens, please.
Your linens, please.
Careful. The ink's still wet.
That you, Maddy?
Here are the dirty ones for you.
Just taking the bleached ones out to dry.
Aren't you gonna give us a hand, then?
Give her the ball.
Remember your manners.
Here it is.
The last chapter.
Monsieur Masse wants another manuscript, quickly.
He can't print them fast enough.
-l'll tell him. -l'll visit you...
-...with the profits, once it's sold. -l'll be waiting.
Perhaps one day you'll tell me your name.
All right, we're all clear.
Marquis de Sade, Justine, latest edition.
Straight from the printers. Justine. Marquis de Sade. Justine.
''Our story concerns a nymph named Justine...
...as pretty a maid as ever entered a nunnery...
...with a body so firm and ripe...
...it seemed a shame to commit it to God.
One morning, the bishop placed his hand upon her thigh.
'Holy Father,' cried she.
'l've come to confess my sins, not commit them anew.'
Heedless, the old priest turned her over on his knee...
...and lifted her skirts high above her hips...
...exposing the pink flesh of her backside.
There, between the orbs of her dimpled a**...
...lay a blushing rosebud...
...begging to be...
Before Justine could wrestle from his grasp...
...this most ungodly man took a communion wafer...
...the body of our Lord Jesus Christ...
...and placed it on the girl's twitching orifice.''
Must l, Your Majesty?
''As he loosened his manhood from beneath his robes...
...the bishop muttered a Latin prayer.
And then, with a mighty thrust...
...drove it into her very entrails.''
The novel's lewd subject matter and its overripe style...
...reveal it to be the work of the Marquis de Sade.
He composes his prose from inside a madhouse.
Seize every copy.
We'll torch them all on the palace lawn, in full public view!
As for the author, shoot him.
A note of caution, sire.
We all remember what happened to Robespierre, Danton and Marat.
Put the Marquis to death and history might even regard you as a despot.
-But l am history. -Of course, Your Majesty.
Nevertheless, cure the Marquis de Sade.
Succeed where countless physicians and priests have failed.
No one can fault Napoleon...
...for bringing a man to his senses.
Might l suggest an appraisal at the Asylum of Charenton...
...and the rather notorious inmate in her care?
l have the perfect candidate for the job.
Dr. Royer-Collard, a distinguished alienist.
He's a staunchly moral man of impeccable character...
...and iron resolve.
My colleagues have called me old-fashioned, even barbaric.
But here at the Hotel Dieu we favor an aggressive course of treatment.
l do not seek popularity or renown.
Mine is a higher mission:
To take God's tiny blunders and those He has forsaken...
...and condition them with the same force, the same rigor...
...one would employ to train a feral dog or a wild stallion.
lt may not be pretty, but it is mercy just the same.
A few more months of this and he'll be fine.
lt's the emperor's dearest hope that you bring your expertise...
...your proficiency to the Asylum of Charenton.
Charenton? The administrator there is quite well-loved, isn't he?
He's young, an idealist. You'll have to be politic.
Do you know how l define ''idealism,'' Monsieur Delbene?
''Youth's final luxury.''
Not so hard.
Don't force it.
Let the quill guide you.
We mustn't just copy the words.
lt's important that we know what they mean.
St. Augustine tells us that angels and demons walk among us on the earth.
And that sometimes, they jointly inhabit the soul of a single man.
Then how can we know who is truly good...
...and who is evil?
Well, we can't.
All we can do is guard against our own corruption.
So you'll practice reading tonight on your own for me?
''And so the professor lifted Colombe's skirt...
...high above her waist.
'Let me be your tutor,' said he, 'in the ways of love.'
With that, he slid her pantalettes down...
...down, down over her knees...
...and there, nestled between her legs...
...as pink as a tulip, as slick as an eel--''
We oughtn't to be reading his nasty stories.
No one's forcing you to listen.
''--he gazed upon her Venus mound...
...her flaxen quim...
...the winking eye of God.''
You've been in his quarters, haven't you?
Once or twice.
l hear he's got a whetstone and chisel he uses to sharpen his teeth.
-He's a writer, not a madman. -What's he doing in here then?
That's not so!
He writes books so wicked that one man killed his wife after reading them.
And two young mothers miscarried their babies!
l'd say that's murder enough.
lf you slander him, you don't deserve to hear his stories.
l think she's sweet on him. That's what l think.
lt's not the Marquis she's sweet on. ls it, Madeleine?
They have no right...
...sending someone to sit on your shoulder.
l work for you. l won't take orders from a stranger.
You needn't worry, Valcour.
Please don't eat the paint, Pascal.
lt's far better to paint fires then to set them, isn't it?
-l'm hungry for a proper visit. -Don't start!
Go ahead, you've a key. Slip it through my tiny hole.
Where did you get to, then?
Did l frighten you?
Frighten me? That's a good one!
l'm twice as quick as you are.
l suppose you're curious about your silly book.
What about my book?
lt sold like the devil!
And then they started burning it.
That's the peril of composing such incendiary prose.
lf only these coins purchased your other talents too.
-There's something else l want. -You've already stolen my heart...
...as well as another prominent organ, south of the equator.
Your publisher says l'm not to leave without a new manuscript.
l've just the story.
lnspired by these very surroundings.
The unhappy tale of a virginal laundry lass.
The darling of the lower wards, where they entomb the criminally insane.
-ls it awfully violent? -Most assuredly.
-ls it terribly erotic? -Fiendishly so.
But it comes with a price.
A kiss for each page.
Must l give them directly or might l blow them?
The price, my coquette, is every bit as firm...
...as l am.
You talk the same as you write.
So, what are we today, Cleante?
A bullfinch or a nightingale?
There's but one kind of bird in a madhouse, abb.
Don't tell me.
Sorry. l've heard that one before.
lt's a long story, this one.
The climax comes at a higher cost.
You must sit on my lap.
You demand a lot from your readers, you do.
The story's thrilling conclusion comes at a premium.
-What's that then? -Your maidenhead.
Then you must sew it up as tightly as the day you were born...
...and come back to me renewed so l can deflower it a second time.
Some things belong on paper...
...others in life.
lt's a blessed fool who can't tell the difference.
You're in the nick of time.
This old lech forgot himself.
He thought l was one of his characters.
The next time you feel the urge to visit the Marquis...
...l hope you'll come to confession instead.
Care for a splash of wine, abb?
Well, it's not even noon.
Conversation, like certain portions of the anatomy...
...always runs more smoothly when it's lubricated.
This is a rare vintage from an obscure village in Bordeaux.
Rather than crush the grape underfoot...
...they place the fruit on the belly of a bride...
...and reap its juices when the young husband steers his vessel into port.
A full-bodied flavor.
Just a hint of wantonness.
lt's from our own cellar. l recognize the taste.
l should've said it was the blood of Christ.
You'd believe that, wouldn't you?
We treat you well enough here, don't we, Marquis?
Your very own featherbed, in lieu of a straw mat.
Your antique writing desk from LaCoste.
-Enough quills to feather an ostrich-- -lt's true, you've spoiled me pink.
ln exchange, we ask only that you follow the rules.
You know you're not to entertain visitors here.
But l'm entertaining you now.
Yes, but l'm not a beautiful young prospect, ripe for corruption.
Don't be so sure.
Take your pen in hand, Marquis.
Purge these wicked thoughts of yours on paper.
Maybe they'll govern you less in life.
l'll fill page after page, my cherub.
We're here, doctor. Mind your step, sir.
Good day, sir.
We've been expecting you.
Good. Very good.
Dr. Royer-Collard. Welcome to Charenton.
This may feel a little awkward, my friend...
...but it needn't be.
l've come merely to oversee your work here, understood?
-Of course. -lt's a formality. Truly.
Well, you're a man of science, and l'm a man of God.
Charenton stands to profit from us both.
l'll need an office on the grounds, somewhere to store my things.
-This way. -lf you don't mind my asking...
...why has the emperor taken such sudden interest in my--
--in our affairs?
lt seems a particular patient of yours...
...has captured his fancy.
l understand he practices the very crimes he preaches in his fiction.
Certainly not here. There were a few indiscretions in his youth.
lndiscretions? Abb, please. l have read his case history.
At 1 6, he violated a serving girl with a crucifix.
After six months in the dungeon at Vincennes, he mutilated a prostitute.
Carving her flesh with a razor, then cauterizing the wounds with hot wax.
l hope you'll judge him by his progress, not his past reputation.
l can't go on like this. Why should this be happening to me?
Once again, gentlemen.
l'm just a lowly cobbler l have been all my life
And with this shoe l'm asking you
To be a cobbler's wife
lt's a dreadful play, true!
A festering pustule on the face of literature.
Why, the parchment it's written upon isn't worthy to wipe my a**.
But you need not make it worse!
Say your lines with conviction, my happy little shoemaker.
Like a true actor!
But l'm not an actor. l'm a dyspeptic.
Just seduce her, you goon!
He's made a success of our theater. There's seldom an empty seat.
Not to mention its therapeutic value.
Playing dress up with cretins sounds like a symptom of madness, not a cure.
Homo perversio. A species that thrives in captivity.
This is Dr. Royer-Collard. He's joining us here in an--
An advisory capacity.
Welcome to our humble madhouse.
l trust you'll find yourself at home.
Tell me, abb, why is he in your care and not a proper prison?
-His wife's influence. -His wife's?
Well, better to have an insane spouse than a criminal one.
And he has never once tried to escape?
A man of his notoriety?
He wouldn't last a day without capture.
Besides, every wholesome thing he might desire, he has at Charenton.
A library filled with the world's great books...
...music lessons, watercolor exercises.
What effect have all these amenities had on his psyche?
He no longer roars or spits.
He no longer taunts the guards or molests his fellow wards.
And his writing?
Oh, yes, that.
lt's essential to his recovery, a purgative for the toxins in his mind.
Do you favor its publication?
-For sale? -Yes.
To the general public?
No, certainly not. lt's unprintable.
Just hold still.
All France is aghast at this book, yet you've not heard of it?
Oh, dear God.
Silence the Marquis or Charenton will be shut down by order of the emperor.
But he's one among some 200 wards!
You could try my calming chair on him.
Or perhaps try bleeding him with leeches.
Or maybe flog him at the stake.
Why? So he'll learn to fear punishment...
...rather than pursue virtue for its own rewards?
Doctor, let me take up this matter with the Marquis myself.
-Charenton's my life's work-- -l'm not heartless.
But this book is a profound insult to decent people everywhere.
Can you personally guarantee that this won't happen again?
You have my word.
What is it, abb?
The Marquis. He's embarrassed us before Napoleon himself!
Why? What's he done?
He's been slipping manuscripts to a publisher.
l place my trust too carelessly, Madeleine.
This is a complete and utter disappointment.
Yes, it is. The paper's cheap, the type's too small.
What did you do? Bribe one of the guards?
You implored me to write.
For curative purposes, to stave off madness.
But you've no right to publish! Behind my back, without my sanction?
Have you truly read it? Or did you run straight to the dog-eared pages?
-Enough to discern its tenor. -And?
lt's not even a proper novel!
lt's nothing but an encyclopedia of perversions!
lt even fails as an exercise in craft.
The characters are wooden. The dialogue is inane.
Not to mention the endless repetition of words like...
...''nipple'' and ''pikestaff.''
l was taxed, it's true.
And such puny scope!
Nothing but the worst in man's nature.
l write of the great eternal truths that bind together all mankind.
The whole world over...
...we eat, we s**t, we f**k, we kill and we die.
But we also fall in love.
We build cities, we compose symphonies and we endure.
Why not put that in your books?
lt's a fiction, not a moral treatise.
But isn't that the duty of art? To elevate us above the beast?
l'd have thought that was your duty, abb. Not mine.
One more trick like this...
...and l'll be forced to revoke all your liberties.
lt's that doctor fellow, isn't it?
He's come to usurp your place here.
More than your writing's at stake.
-The Ministry's threatened closure. -They can't be serious.
Our future lies in the stroke of your pen.
Mightier than the sword indeed.
Put yourself in my place. l've others to consider.
lf Charenton falls, the patients have no place to go, no clothes or food.
f**k them! Half-wits! Let them die on the streets, as nature intended.
You among them?
lf ever l showed you a kind hand, Marquis...
...if l granted you walking privileges on a spring day...
...or slipped an extra pillow beneath your door.
lf ever l shared your wine, laughed at your vulgarities...
...or humored you with argument...
...then you will oblige me now.
For your sake, and for all Charenton.
You've a touch of the poet too. Perhaps you should take up the quill.
-Do l have your word? -Honestly!
You cut me to the core!
What's the point of all your rehabilitation...
...if when l finally succumb, when l pledge myself to righteous conduct...
...you regard me with suspicion?
Have you no faith in your own medicine?
At Charenton, even the walls have eyes.
l spoke to him with reason and compassion...
...the tools which serve us best here.
He's sworn to obedience.
He's more than a patient, doctor. The Marquis is my friend.
You keep strange company, abb. lf you have the matter truly in hand--
-l have. -Then l've a friend of my own to see.
-Doctor! -l've come for my bride.
We'd not expected you for some time.
Simone has not yet come of age.
l've taken a new post at Charenton. l need the succor only a wife can give.
You remember Dr. Royer-Collard.
l'd not forget the man to whom l was promised.
He's come to collect you.
l apologize, mademoiselle.
l had no time to write.
Be grateful, child.
ln my experience, poor girls who are orphaned never wed.
They wind up spinsters, or worse still, nuns.
Thank God that fortune has spared you from such a fate.
God bless you, Simone.
The emperor wishes to ensure your comfort while at Charenton.
Consider the chateau a gift...
...provided you're willing to finance the necessary repairs.
Monsieur Prouix is the court's most promising young architect.
He's at your disposal.
The place hasn't been occupied since the Terror.
lt has possibilities, yes.
l'm to live here?
lt belonged to the Duc de Blangis, an avowed monarchist.
The Jacobins were most unforgiving.
His wife tried to escape.
They caught her, here, on the stairs.
Set about her with bayonets.
''There but for the grace of God,'' eh, doctor?
l shed no tears for the past, Monsieur Delbene. l look to the future.
...we should quarry fresh marble, don't you think?
You must humor my wife in all things.
lf she wants Venetian glass...
...ltalian tile, Dutch velvet, spare no expense.
But in her bedroom, see to it that the door locks from the outside.
And on her windows are iron grates.
ln the convent, Simone was spared the world's temptations.
l will not allow her to fall prey to them now.
She is a rare bird.
l intend to keep her caged.
Perhaps the sisters failed...
...to instruct you...
...on the ways of marriage.
The nightly duty...
...of a wife...
...to her husband.
It's a scandal, truly.
A doctor pretending to be a God-fearing man.
That's not all. He's too old to marry.
-She's far too young. -Hardly finished schooling.
Taken without a word.
-And that's not all. -Tell me more.
The sweet little thing is barely 1 6.
...she's even younger.
Only a child.
-And that's not all the nuns told us. -Tell me more.
-And that's not all. -What else?
She's from a convent. She's meant to be a nun!
Well, tell me more.
She came with a statue of the Virgin Mary in the bargain.
She arrived with a statue of Mary and a crucifix around her neck...
...from a convent.
Tell me more.
He's old enough to have fathered her twice over.
This has all the makings of a farce.
Abb de Coulmier, you rascal!
Your comedies are the rage. l had to claw my way to a ticket.
And so expertly acted!
That charming man in last week's comedy...
...l'd no idea he was an imbecile.
Everyone has talents if we look for them.
lsn't that the new doctor? How thrilling.
A renowned expert, right here at Charenton.
l will say one thing for him.
He has a beautiful daughter.
Oh, enough of this bilge.
We're better than this.
Remember, gentlemen. lnside each of your...
...delicate minds, your distinctive bodies...
...art is waiting to be born!
Let's give the doctor a performance tonight...
...l hope he'll remember forever.
That's Madame Bougival.
And of course, in front of them, the Marquis' wife.
You. North wind.
Madames and messieurs...
...there's been a change in tonight's program.
We will not be performing The Happy Shoemaker.
lnstead, we'd like to premiere a new play...
...in honor of the newly appointed...
...Dr. Royer-Collard and his lovely bride.
A comedy entitled....
-Crimes ofLove. -The Crimes ofLove.
Written by one of Charenton's very own wards...
...the Marquis de Sade!
Sister Saint-Fond, whither do we go?
Passing over rivers, canyons and snow?
Hurry, Eugenie For we must not tarry
l deliver you now To the man you shall marry
When you have rested at your leisure He'll coach you in ways of pleasure
At last she arrives
My hard-won bride
Hurry, my child, and scurry inside
There you'll find Such treasures await you
Marzipan and meringue to sate you
Such gallantry in men ls sadly a rarity
How lucky l am to receive his charity
Thank you, dear sister For abetting me so
Bringing her here To this secluded chateau
Was that good?
Little does she know The terrors in store
When l tutor her
ln les crimes de l'amour
Quickly, my suckling Out of your clothes
My scepter awaits How solid it grows
Stop it, l beg you Have pity, l say
You're not my lover You're a monstrous rou
Do as you're told
-Stick your legs in the air -Leave at once.
-lt's just begun. -Do as l say.
lt's true l'm a pig
And you've truffles down there
Oh, God, what's this? Such a wicked sensation
A feeling somewhere Between shame and elation
Use your tongue like a wand
ln much the same manner As Sister Saint-Fond
Leaving already? Of course, you've seen it all before.
l had a suspicion The sister was Sapphic
l'd tell you more But it's simply too graphic
Suffice it to say She's a preference for lasses
Even at vespers She'll away to make passes
My darling, Eugenie Dainty morsel
Get on your back Let's try it dorsal
He wants to take me in every way
l'll plunder every lovely pore Until you're weak and cry, ''No more''
No, more, more!
Everybody come forward quietly for the next bit.
And what of my lips? Will you soil them too?
When you've broken Every other taboo
l'll fill every slippery hollow
lf you're obliging Then you'll swallow
Take him to the infirmary!
-Has he hurt you? -No, his breath made my eyes run.
Do you mean to take us all down with you?
Don't be absurd.
lt's only a play.
l wonder who's to blame? The author or his muse?
-lt was fiction. -Of course.
-lt wasn't inspired by circumstance. -No, it was not.
You ought to be ashamed.
Exploiting these pathetic cretins for financial gain.
That's not our intention!
lt's a freak show for tourists and curiosity seekers.
Charenton is a sanatorium, not a circus.
The theater is henceforth closed.
As for your friend, the playwright....
l'll do everything in my power.
Do more. Or l'll be forced to tell the Ministry...
...that the inmates are indeed running the asylum.
l hope you're satisfied.
He's shut down our theater.
He can't do that to me.
How can one man be so selfish?
We held up a mirror. Apparently, he didn't like what he saw.
What are you doing?
lf you won't be true to your word, l've no choice.
But l kept my promise. l didn't publish.
Perhaps, in time, you can earn them back.
You can't! l've all the demons of hell in my head.
My only salvation is to vent them on paper.
Try reading, for a change.
The writer who produces more than he reads? The sure mark of an amateur.
Start with the Bible. lt's cheerier and more artfully written.
This monstrous God of yours?
He strung up His very own son like a side of veal.
l shudder to think what He'd do to me.
-Why are you doing this to me? -Stop it.
l'll die of loneliness! l've no company but the characters l create.
wh*res and pederasts? You're better off without them.
l have a proposition.
You always do.
Madeleine. She's besotted with me. She'd do anything l ask.
She could pay you a midnight visit.
l don't know who you insult more, her or me.
-Part the gates of heaven. -That's enough!
You're tense. You could use a long, slow screw.
Good night, Marquis.
Then bugger me!
Goddamn you, abb!
Have you no sense of my condition? Of its gravity?
My writing is involuntary, like the beating of my heart.
My constant erection!
l've done just as you bade me.
l've paid a visit to the craftsman.
He laughed and called me a wh*re but took my money just the same.
Which gives you more pleasure?
The objects themselves...
...or the humiliation l endure procuring them on your behalf.
And last but not least, l've brought you some anise seed drops...
...and some chocolate pastilles.
Did you now, madame?
They're filled with cream, yes?
You know l shan't touch them unless they're positively bursting...
...erupting with cream.
What else have you brought that l might nibble upon?
Oh, Donatien, you mustn't.
What other treats?
Shame on you, truly.
For f**k's sake, woman!
Am l to gorge myself on useless trifles...
...sucking down your sweetmeats...
...when what l require, what l truly need are a few quill pens?
Perhaps a pot of ink?
Forgive me, l beg you.
Don't you see? l've been raped!
Far more egregiously than any of my characters.
How was l to know?
How was l to tell you? By writing a letter?
With what, my asinine bride?
l beg you, Donatien, as your wife, your only ally:
-Stop making a spectacle of yourself. -You've come to lecture me?
To flaunt your deviance upon a stage?
They've put you up to this?
Court the doctor's favor.
l should carve my name into his back and fill the wounds with salt.
You're here, safe, surrounded by brick and mortar...
...but my prison is far crueler. lt has no walls.
Everywhere l go, they point and whisper.
At the opera, they hiss at me.
The priest refused to hear my confession.
He said l was already damned!
Why must l suffer for your sins?
lt's the way of all martyrs, isn't it?
Give me back my anonymity, that's all l ask! Let me be invisible again!
Tell me. Have you done anything to secure my release? No.
Petitioned the court? Sought audience with the emperor?
He refuses to see me!
lt's convenient having your husband locked up!
You no longer have to hoist your skirts...
...or crack your mouth so l can put it to its one pleasurable use!
You're not my wife! You're one of my many jailors!
What in God's name--?
Take this cow away! l can't look at her.
Take her to the west wing.
Among the hysterics!
Lock her up so she knows how it feels!
The gorgon! The sow!
For a woman of humble origin, your wife certainly has refined tastes.
When l suggest granite, she counters with Peruvian marble.
Peruvian marble. lt costs a fortune to import.
Whatever her heart desires, Monsieur Prouix.
l'd like nothing better than to grant her every wish, sir.
On the modest sum you've accorded me-- l'm an architect, not a magician.
l must see the doctor.
lt's a matter of dire urgency.
lt is customary to write and request an appointment.
Desperation has driven me past etiquette, all the way to frenzy.
My schedule is not subject to lunatics.
l beg to differ, doctor. You work in a madhouse.
Your every waking moment is governed by the insane.
l pray you, be succinct.
You're new to Charenton, yes?
Perhaps you're not yet familiar with my husband and his unusual case.
With all due respect, madame...
...all France is familiar with your husband.
Would you grant me a moment alone, Monsieur Prouix?
Happily, sir. Your servant, sir.
l assume you've come to plead for clemency on your husband's behalf.
You do, do you? lt's my dearest hope, doctor...
...that he remain entombed forever.
And that when at last he perishes in the dank bowels of your institution...
...that he be left as carrion for the rodents and the worms.
l stand corrected, madame.
lf you can't cure him...
...truly cure him...
...then at least, l beg you, harness the beast that rages in his soul.
That is not easily done, madame.
You are aware, are you not, that it costs a great deal...
...to house your husband.
l pay his stipend every month, far more dutifully than l should.
That barely covers the cost of his room...
...with nary a penny left over for appropriate treatments.
Opiates to quell his temper.
Restraints to chasten him when he misbehaves.
lf you could buttress your entreaties with the means to oblige them--
l'm not a wealthy woman.
You've a pension, haven't you, from the sale of his books?
lt's tainted money, doctor.
-What a beautiful thought. -What thought is that?
That the ill-gotten funds, borne of his degeneracy...
...might now effect his salvation.
lt's beyond perversity.
That honor should carry a price tag.
Old friends deigning to kiss your hand again.
Enchanted to see you again.
Welcome back from your long, dark descent into the abyss of infamy.''
Don't toy with me, doctor.
Now is the time to secure your epitaph.
The benevolent Marquise.
Charenton's most revered philanthropist...
...or Satan's bride.
Rest assured, your generosity speeds your husband...
...ever faster toward a cure.
The Peruvian marble, without question.
-l am eternally in your debt. -And l in yours, Marquise.
Doctor, can l impart to you his cruelest trick?
Once, long ago...
...in the folly of youth...
...he made me love him.
Madeleine, my sweet.
Can you smuggle me a quill and some ink?
l don't dare. The doctor's got his eye on you sharper than ever now.
Dr. Montalivet was, politely put, diminutive.
When flaccid, his member was little more than a bobbin.
And when inflamed, it towered a mere four inches.
To compensate, he strove to impress his lady with other endowments.
Fine wine, fresh game, and a house as big as his other fortunes were small.
We've ceiling beams en route from Provence.
And next week a muralist from Paris arrives...
...to paint a trompe l'oeil...
...in the ballroom.
-Doesn't that please you? -Very much.
l would prefer brandy in the salon...
...where we can sit side by side before the fire.
l'd rather read, thank you.
You prefer a book to your husband's company?
Well, no wonder.
l'm only flesh and blood.
That's no match, is it, for the printed page?
Good evening, then.
Enjoy your solitude.
Now or never.
lf you won't read it to your own mother...
...perhaps you ought not to be reading it at all.
lt's not your cup of tea, Mother.
Oh, go on, darling, give it a read.
''Monsieur Bouloir was a man whose erotic appetites...
...might discreetly be described...
A habitu of cemeteries...
...his proudest conquest was a maid six decades his senior...
...deceased a dozen years.''
Oh, that's terrible! That's too, too terrible!
Well, go on!
''The vigor with which he made love...
...caused her bones to dislodge.
Still, he granted her the highest compliment he accorded any woman:
'Well worth the dig!'''
You asked my name once.
Sweet, then? Like the pastry.
Haven't you a name yourself?
Ride away with me someday.
Perhaps l'll tell you.
Your mother may be blind as a bat, but you have a keen pair of eyes.
Mother's blind on account of the lye in the laundry kettles.
Soaking sheets for lunatics cost this woman her sight.
This could cost her far more.
You'll get more with kind--
What could cause a tincture like this?
l'm a laundress, not a detective.
Perhaps your kettles are stained with rust, or the lye is rancid.
...just maybe, these sheets once belonged to our friend, the Marquis.
We've over 200 beds.
Could be anybody's.
Such a fine thread count? Decorated in his very own script?
She's lying. lt shows in her face.
Clearing everything, abb.
-Almost done. -Remember...
...anything he might fashion as a quill. His room stripped bare.
The doctor cracks the whip, and you dance!
My bed, gone! Am l to freeze to death?
Gaban, take his rug.
That's a Turkish weave! lt costs more than you'll earn in your life.
Valcour. His chair.
Fine! Take it! Take it all!
Careful, it's slippery. You've no idea where it's been.
And let's not forget sweet Mary, the Jewish wh*re, God's little harlot!
Virgin birth! An entire religion built on an oxymoron!
Orvolle. His wine.
From now on, nothing but water at every meal.
Your meat, de-boned.
-Why this torture? -Your writing continues, unchecked.
l didn't create this world, l record it.
lts horrors. lts darkest nightmares! To what end?
Nothing but your morbid gratification.
l write what l see: The procession to the guillotine.
We're all lined up waiting for the crunch of the blade.
The rivers of blood are flowing beneath our feet, abb.
l've been to hell, young man. You've only read about it.
l am sorry, Marquis. Truly.
These chastity vows of yours. How strict are they?
Suppose you only put it in her mouth.
Pious little worm.
ln conditions of adversity, the artist flourishes.
Curious, aren't you?
lf l can pleasure myself, l can pleasure you too.
You don't know what you're missing.
l'm in search of a book. Perhaps you know it.
l've only got one copy left.
Rescued it meself...from the bonfire.
Please hurry. My husband locks the door at dusk.
Sweet little thing like you...
...shouldn't be reading such filth, anyway.
l grew up in a convent, sir.
Everything l know l owe to books.
''To the young maidens of the world:
Wrest yourselves free from the tyranny of virtue...
...and taste without shame the pleasures of the flesh.
Male power lies in the clench ofa fiist...
...but a woman's power lies elsewhere:
In the velvet cavity betwixt her thighs. ''
lt's late, Simone, darling.
Put your poems aside.
l beg you....
What have they done to you now?
Tortures so arcane...
...so medieval, even l haven't the words to describe them.
lf you've an ounce of pity...
...you'll throw caution aside and unlock my door.
God help me.
-l don't dare. -Don't be a dunce. l've a surprise.
Now open the frigging door!
My newest book.
lt starts at my left cuff...
...and continues across my back.
The longest sentence...
...runs the entire length of my inseam.
lt all completes itself at the base of my right shoe.
''Naked on a plate''?
''One hundred unholy tongues''?
-You're a genius! -Yes!
...so you won't be blamed for my misbehavior.
Maddy! You traffic with the Devil, you'll pay the Devil's price.
-Guards, stop him! Guards! -Yes!
Look what l've brought you, my darlings!
Two chapters: one for each cheek!
My writing lives!
Take this beast back to his cage!
Don't tell me, you've come to read my trousers.
Don't keep me in suspense. Fifty lashes? A night on the rack?
-l won't sully my hands with him. -Nor should you.
The first rule of politics:
The man who orders the execution never drops the blade!
You're lucky it's me punishing you.
lf it were up to the doctor, you'd be flayed.
The doctor is a man after my own heart.
What am l to do with you?
The more l forbid, the more you're provoked!
Your breeches as well.
You started this little game...
...you finish it.
Or haven't you the courage?
l thought not.
lt's a potent aphrodisiac...
...isn't it, dumpling?
Having power over another man?
You'll no longer spread your insidious gospel.
From now on, you will not even write...
...your own ignominious name.
Are your convictions so fragile, they cannot stand in opposition to mine?
ls your God so flimsy? So weak?
Don't flatter yourself, Marquis.
You're not the Antichrist.
You're nothing but a malcontent who knows how to spell.
l saw her myself. She put the key in the latch, proud as you please.
Free her! Now!
Leave her duly strung.
lf only blood will appease you...
...then shed mine.
-Abb, no! -Go on.
That won't be necessary.
lf you're going to martyr yourself, abb...
...do it for God...
...not a chambermaid.
Now put your clothes back on.
Had l known your taste in novels...
...l never would've taught you to read.
Don't say that.
Reading's my salvation.
But why must you indulge in his pornography?
lt's a hard day's wages, slaving away for madmen.
What l've seen in life, it takes a lot to hold my interest.
l put myself in his stories.
l play the parts.
-Each strumpet, each murderess. -Maddy.
lf l wasn't such a bad woman on the page...
...l'll hazard l couldn't be such a good woman in life.
This is no place for a child like you.
l'm sending you away from here.
We could line the walls with Chinese silks.
Or, if you prefer...
...a Florentine tapestry.
Are you a literary man?
l do so admire men with an appetite for...
...how could you?
Have you actually read this volume?
l've memorized it.
There comes a time in a young lady's life...
...when she must cast books aside...
...and learn from experience.
...requires a teacher.
What are you--?
ls something wrong?
Don't send me away, l beg you.
l shouldn't refuse your kindness...
...but my heart's held fast here.
Mother's not half so blind as you.
There are certain feelings...
...we must not voice.
They incite us to act...
...we should not.
What have l done?
Go back to your room.
You'll hate me now, won't you?
l love you, Madeleine...
...as a child of God.
You don't fear the Marquis' sway on me.
You fear your own.
lf you'll grant me a final favor, l'd like the chance to explain.
Don't come any closer, abb.
''Most esteemed Dr. Royer-Collard...
...at long last, your chateau is complete.
You will find everything in its assigned place:
The chintz draperies, the English bell pulls...
...even the ivory doorstops.
Only one detail is missing:
Tell him l'm no fool.
A prison's still a prison, even with silks and chandeliers.
''By the time you read this, we'll be long gone...
...bound for England or points beyond.''
Tell him if he discovers our whereabouts...
...you'll slit your wrists, and l'll plunge a hatpin through my heart.
You'd do that, rather than forsake our love?
But tell him l would.
Sign it, quickly.
Then you can ravish me again on linens for which he so dearly paid.
And then, l beg you...
...on the bearskin rug in his study...
...and finally, as a crowning gesture...
...we'll leave puddles of love on the Peruvian marble.
Stop, l beg you!
l'll write dainty stories! Odes to virtue.
Children's verses. l promise!
Excites you, doesn't it, to hurt me?
You're solid as a bone, straining your trousers.
Don't you see, you self-righteous f**k...
...the longer you continue your vexations, the deeper you root...
...my principles in my heart!
Haven't you seen...
...a man naked before?
The abb's sending me away.
Of course he is.
...tell me one last story.
How do you propose l do that?
With dust, upon the air?
Whisper it to me now.
Child, that's far too dangerous.
l may never see you again. Let me transcribe...
...something to remember you by.
This is neither the time, nor the place.
Never thought l'd see you defeated.
-l've thousands of stories to tell-- -Then tell me one.
Perhaps l can.
Tonight, go to the linen pantry with ink and a quill...
...and you shall have a story that will make the angels weep...
...and the saints all gasp for air.
Cleante, are you ready?
Are you ready?
Marquis, is that you?
For f**k's sake, who else would it be?
-Have you alerted the others? -l'm no longer a man.
l awoke to discover l'd turned into a sparrow.
ls that so? l awoke to discover l'd turned into a cat.
lf you don't do as l say, l'll sink my fangs into your drumsticks...
...and suck the marrow straight out of your bones.
At your service, count.
''To my beloved reader:
Prepare yourself for the most impure tale...
...ever to spring from the mind of man.''
Off your hump.
''To my beloved reader:
Prepare yourself for the most impure tale ever told.''
''To my beloved reader:
Prepare yourself for an impure tale.''
''To my beloved reader:
Prepare yourself; l've an impure tale to tell.''
What did you say?
''Prepare yourself. l've a tale. An impure tale.''
''Our story concerns the prostitute Fanchon...
...whom nature had equipped...
...with a tight and downy fissure between her thighs...
...and the most finely cleft a**...
...ever molded by the hand of God.''
''Fanchon was a prostitute...
...with a tight and downy fissure between her thighs...
-The most finely cleft a**! -''The most finely cleft a**....''
My glorious prose, filtered through the minds of the insane.
They might improve it.
''lt's about a harlot named Fanchon.''
''lt's about a harlot named Fanchon...
...with a downy fissure.''
''One day, Fanchon's first client was a surgeon.
He ran his fingers across her naked skin...
...pulling apart folds of flesh.''
''He ran his fingers across her naked skin...
...pulling apart folds of flesh.''
''Pulling at her folds.''
''And ran his fingers over her naked skin, pulling at her folds....''
''Feeling over her naked skin.''
''Her naked skin.''
-Naked. -Yes, l've got that bit.
'''What shall l make ready?'...
...asked Fanchon. 'My mouth, my a** or my succulent oyster?'''
'''What shall l ready?'''
'''--my a** or my succulent oyster?'''
'''None!' cried the surgeon with his scalpel.''
-Yes? -'''Which hole?'
My mouth, my a**...
...or my succulent--
'''For l'll carve new orifices where there were none before.'''
-'''None!''' -''Cried the surgeon.
'l'll carve new--
New orifices where there were none before!'''
''With that, Fanchon expelled a scream so extravagantly pitched...
...that the surgeon was obliged to tear out her tongue.''
''Fanchon expelled a scream with such extravagant pitch--''
''With that, the extravagant b*tch screamed so loud--''
''She screamed so long and so loud--''
''She screamed, so he felt he should--
''To seal the wound, he took a poker from the fire--''
-''A poker!'' -''To tear out her tongue!''
''He took a poker from the fire!''
Fire. ''From the fire!''
''He took a poker from the fire.''
From the fire.
From the fire....
''He took a poker from the fire!''
-Dauphin. -From the fire.
Bouchon, the words.
Tell me the words.
What's the next bit?
-Fire! -What's the next bit?
-Fire! -Just tell me the next bit!
Tell me the words!
Open all the doors! Let the patients out!
Chase some water! Move yourselves! Move on!
Get some water!
-No! No! -Nice fire!
Nice, nice, Dauphin, fire!
Where's that water?
Get Dauphin! Stop him!
Fire! Fire! Fire!
Remember your manners, Bouchon.
lt's her fault the Devil's unleashed himself upon us!
lt's her fault!
We must save Charenton!
lKeep the chain going!
We've got to stop it before it gets to those beams!
Are you all right?
Where are you, Maddy?
''She screamed, so he felt he ought to tear out her tongue.''
l'm sorry. l'm sorry, abb. l couldn't help it!
Oh, my God!
Now, now, don't be shy.
We have a nice surprise waiting for you.
There's a good boy.
There's a good boy.
l promise l won't do it again!
We mustn't blame Bouchon.
He is merely one of nature's experiments gone awry.
No discipline. No conscience. No morality.
ln fact, it is our duty...
...to provide such things on his behalf.
ls it not?
As you say, doctor.
He was so impressed by the Marquis' tale...
...that he chose to reenact it, yes?
Upon a certain chambermaid.
Perhaps you'll be so kind as to remind me of her name.
l beg you, doctor, don't make me say it.
Her name, abb.
Tell me, abb...
...when you are called before God...
...how will you answer for Madeleine's death?
-Your words drove Bouchon to-- -For f**k's sake, abb!
Suppose an inmate tried to walk on water and drowned.
Would you condemn the Bible? l think not.
An innocent child is dead.
So many authors are denied the gratification...
...of a concrete response to their work.
l'm blessed, am l not?
-lt's no secret that you loved her. -l wanted to f**k her, that's all!
-And did you? -lt's not your province to ask.
-Why did you not take her by force? -Who's to say l did not?
-Was it impotence? -Never!
Then it must have been love.
l fucked her, countless times...
...and all the while, she pleaded for more.
We inspected the body.
She died a virgin.
Give her a proper burial...
...in the churchyard...
...at my expense.
Do not inter...
...her sweet body...
...in the same ground...
...as the devils who inhabit this accursed place.
Your terrible secret, revealed.
You're a man, after all.
l've opium to numb the pain.
Our intention is punitive.
lf we numb the pain, what's the point?
Abb de Coulmier.
Would that l were so easily silenced.
There's a good boy.
You have exceeded my expectations.
l'm not the first man to shed blood in God's name.
And l'm not the last.
Will you sleep soundly tonight?
Plainly put, l never expect to sleep again.
Don't send me away, abb.
You'd best come quick, abb.
He's written all over the walls!
Used his own filth! Made himself a kind of paint.
-Free his mouth. -Mustn't do that, sir.
l must grant him his last rites. Give me your dagger.
l failed to save your soul in life.
l won't fail in death.
Dear Heavenly Father:
Prove Your infinite mercy, and open Your gates to this man...
...no less Your child than any other.
...in each of us...
...and such abomination.
No man is exempt.
Forgive us all.
lKiss the cross.
-Welcome. -Pleased to have the post.
Our endowment has shriveled to a mere pittance.
We are the laughingstock of all France.
However, on a happier note...
...the hospital is now in my sole command.
My policy here is that each man must earn his keep.
The ''Charenton Press,'' abb.
We produce books for the discriminating collector.
The compulsive inmates set the type.
The listless ones do the binding and prepare the ink.
lt's remarkable, doctor.
The patients are so subdued, so docile.
Yes, they are at peace.
They have the satisfaction that only a hard day's labor can provide.
l don't believe it.
The Marquis de Sade. You're actually publishing his novels.
Ever since his death, there's been a surge of interest in his works.
...l will use the profits to restore Charenton to its former glory.
We have a meeting with Herr Becker at 4:00.
He wants to publish a Swiss edition...
...on gilded paper, bound in calfskin.
-Thank you, Charlotte. -My pleasure.
Have a look at page 205. l turned the corner down....
On your last one! Come on!
Next one! Come on, get these books onboard!
Next boxes up there. Move yourselves, all right!
All right, old mates, that's it! See you next week!
Of course, everything is not quite as harmonious as it seems.
l hope you have a strong constitution.
My years tending lepers have steeled me for life's grisliest offerings.
We still have a few lone incurables.
Prone to violence and perversion.
...you're my successor, yes?
Listen to me, abb...
...and listen well.
l've stared into the face of evil...
...and have lived to tell the tale.
Now l beg you, for your sake, let me write it down.
Gibberish. He rants and he raves.
lf you've an ounce of Christianity, you'll bring me parchment, ink...
...and a quill.
No, this patient poses a grave danger to himself and to others.
Are you all right, sir?
-Do you not see, abb? -Do you not see, abb?
Some men are beyond redemption.
Please bring me a quill. Please.
Wait, l'm sorry. Oh, goddamn you, abb!
Use it well.
You owe her that.
I leave you with a tale penned by the abb de Coulmier...
...a man who found freedom in the unlikeliest ofplaces...
...at the bottom ofan inkwell...
...on the tip ofa quill.
However, be forewarned...
...its plot is blood-soaked...
...its characters depraved...
...and its themes, unwholesome at best.
But in order to know virtue...
... we must acquaint ourselves with vice.
Only then can we know the full measure ofman.
I dare you.
Turn the page.