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1. The Mahabharata
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2. Lord of the Flies - Criterion
$13.46 $8.13 list($14.95)
3. Marat / Sade
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4. Marat / Sade

1. The Mahabharata
Director: Peter Brook
list price: $39.99
our price: $35.99
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Asin: B00006LPEG
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 4847
Average Customer Review: 4.17 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Famed Royal Shakespeare Company director Peter Brook helms this multinational production of India's greatest epic myth. A seemingly simple tale of two sets of semidivine brothers vying for the throne spirals out to include wider themes of fate, free will, and the problems of behaving dishonorably to preserve the greater good. The film, adapted from Brook's stage production, uses a presentational style, with the epic's narrator slipping in and out of the action and characters stopping to address the camera. The international cast and simple costuming add to the timeless, dreamlike feel of the story. The Mahabharata does an excellent job of reverently presenting a cherished myth without losing the passion and excitement of the story. The DVD edition includes "The Making of The Mahabharata," an interesting look at both the layers of meaning to be found in the story and the challenges in adapting it for a Western audience. --Ali Davis ... Read more

Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Essence captured
I was entranced by The Mahabharata, as presented by Peter Brookes. Since my childhood, I have heard, read and seen The Mahabharata in my mother tongue, English and Hindi. Irrespective of the medium, it has always impressed with the great canvas on which human yet larger than life characters are etched but the grandeur of the drama has often masked the underlying philosophy - that the difference between humans and gods is infinitesimal, that every person is imbued with some qualities that are god-like (so that depending on circumstances anybody can appear god-like), even the so-called gods have human frailties and can be touched and befriended.
Peter Brookes has successfully denuded the characters of their physical attributes and forced us to really understand this philosophy that we too can become gods depending on which qualities we care to nurture within our selves.

5-0 out of 5 stars Indian philosophy come to life
This excellent multinational production of the Mahabharata feels almost Shakespeaerean at times - the language so eloquent and poetic, the themes so profound and universal, the action so epic. Truly great literature brought to film.

Briefly, the Mahabharata is a tale of two rival sets of brothers, cousins to eachother, each born into royalty and with divinely guided paths in life. The result, however, is a great war, death, destruction, but a final glimmer of light preserved. Vishnu after Shiva.
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Peter Brook's five-hour version of the Mahabharata is theatrical, philosophical, spare, poetic. It is rendered in gentle, nearly monochromatic hues and with often silent backgrounds, interspersed with periods of hauntingly beautiful music. The actors are gifted, if a bit too grand and mythic in their presentation. As in the written versions, the characters motives are seen to be, in turns, grounded and human, and unearthly and enlightened.

Such a powerful mix, and such a penetrating vision of life -- all from over three thousand years ago!

I highly recommend this film, anbd the special features of the DVD make it that much more valuable.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not the Mahabharata, but good on its own terms
Responses to this film tend to be bipolar. On the one hand there are those--usually, but not always South Asian--who find it downright offensive, a baffling misrepresentation of one of the world's great classics. On the other are those who are taken in by the film's sumptuous artistry and pronounce it profound and life-changing and...if they are daring or ignorant...claim that it manifests the essence of Indic philosophy and sensibilities.

I think a more balanced view would go like this. Firstly, nearly everything about Brook's presentation is dissonant with the real character of the Mahabharata and of its cultural matrix generally. Brook himself has said that he interpreted the Mahabharata as a metaphor for nuclear holocaust in the modern age, and indeed he seems determined to transform the work into a Greco-Shakespearean tragedy. The characters are uniformly ashen-faced throughout the film, even *before* anything bad happens, and the score is downright elegiac. Characters mumble on and on about the "savagery of this world", its loss of youth, and we get many closeups of faces paralyzed in existentialist anguish. Krishna--one of several characters terrifically miscast--is not even likeable. The presentation is claustrophobic and minimalist, in stark contrast to the dizzying variety and vastness of the original. Beyond this, the Mahabharata (the real one) is simply not a tragedy. If anything, it is a Divine Comedy. Far from Homer's heroes, the characters are not properly viewed as 'mere men' at all: they are incarnations of gods, demons, and assorted beings whose dramas extend in all directions of time and space, literally into infinity. The true multiplicity of 'Hinduism' shines forth in the work: we get to sample every item on the spectrum between the One Being and the infinity of worlds. The problem of dharma or rightness, meanwhile, is quite beyond Brook's purview. He has ripped the epic too far from its Indic roots, and what he gives us is very definitely a postmodern European imagination.

So, hats off to all those who feel betrayed.

But there is another story to tell. Considered by itself as a work of art, this film has to count among the most visionary and fascinating in recent decades. The visual and aural elements--the spare, elusive sets; the cool Mughal-inspired wardrobes; the gorgeous music which took literally years to produce--are a marvel, and create a world like few seen on the screen. Brook isn't famous for nothing, and his stage-honed directorial skill shines in every scene. I won't spoil the surprise at some of his choices, but they are consistently evocative and turn on the smallest gestures. The film is simply a feast. The characters are not particularly deep--though perhaps a little deeper than the originals--and the 'philosophy' tends to be half-baked and even self-obsessed. But stylistically it stands to challenge anything I've ever seen.

4-0 out of 5 stars Putting this on my wishlist right now
I rate this a 4 only because I haven't seen the DVD yet, but a friend once loaned me the VHS version. I think I watched it three times over the course of a couple months. In one case, I watched all 6 hours straight through (minus bathroom breaks of course). Another reviewer used the phrase "life changing", and I agree completely. I have continued to draw inspiration from this film for 5 years. With the DVD, maybe I can go for another 50. PS: The soundtrack for this film is out on RealWorld. Also recommended.

1-0 out of 5 stars Worst version of the great epic that I've ever seen.
I'm totally baffled that people actually enjoyed this movie. The Mahabharata is the greatest epic of all time and this movie did not do it any justice. First of all, I think it's really hard to take the longest epic in history and make it into a 6 hour movie. It leaves too many important aspects out. That was my first problem with the movie. My second problem is that the characters were totally miscast. Anyone who has ever read the many different English translated versions of the Mahabharata or even the original in Sanskrit will tell you that Bhishma was a strong and powerful man who in this movie has been reduced down to looking like a beggar you see on the streets. The Pandavas and the Kuravas were Princes yet none of their clothes or anything in their appearance made them look like they belonged in a King's court. They lived in palaces yet in this movie, they were living in dimly lit areas that looked nothing like the magnificent palaces of ancient India.

I have been a fan of the story of the Mahabharata since I was 5 years old when my grandfather would tell me the tales. When I first heard about Peter Brook's movie, I was about 13 years old and I couldn't wait to see the movie when it played on PBS. I was greatly disappointed. Nothing lived up to my expectations. The grand places and the beautiful Kings and Queens I had pictured my whole life as I had heard the stories were not there. The translation of the word Mahabharata literally means Great(Maha) India(Bharat), yet I found nothing in this version of the movie to be great. Brook's version waters down the magnificent tale and turns it into something very simple and common which this story never was.

If anyone is actually interested in the story of the Mahabharata, I would highly recommend the many books that are out there, including the version by Krishna Dharma that you can buy here on Amazon. Now if you are the type that does not like using your own imagination to picture the story in your head and instead want to see a movie version, then I highly recommend BR Chopra's version which was originally a TV series on Indian TV that can now be purchased on a 16 DVD set. It's in Hindi but has English subtitles and does an amazing job of portraying the true characters of the Mahabharata the way it was intended. ... Read more


2. Lord of the Flies - Criterion Collection
Director: Peter Brook
list price: $39.95
our price: $35.96
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Asin: 0780022084
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 11237
Average Customer Review: 3.78 out of 5 stars
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Description

Lord of the Flies is famed theater director Peter Brook's daring translation of William Golding's brilliant novel. The story of 30 English schoolboys stranded on an uncharted island at the start of the "next" war, Lord of the Flies is a seminal film of the New American Cinema and a fascinating anti-Hollywood experiment in location filmmaking. As the cast relived Golding's frightening fable, Brook found the cinematic "evidence" of the author's terrifying thesis: there is a beast in us all. ... Read more

Reviews (50)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Bit Rushed, A Few Omissions, But Overall Very Good
"The Lord of the Flies" tells the tale of a group of English schoolboys stranded on a tropical island, with no adults, after a plane crash, while war rages on worldwide. The boys, ages 5 or 6 through 12 or 13, have food, water, and a pleasant climate. Their only challenges are to fight boredom and stay civilized until they are rescued.

I saw this videotape for the first time only a few weeks after reading the book for the first time. To me, the film was a little rushed, and there were a few important omissions, but it was still quite faithful to the brilliantly disturbing novel. The picture quality was a bit grainy, and the dialogue of a few of the child actors was a bit stilted at times, but Jack, Ralph, Piggy, and Simon were portrayed very well. The dialogue is hard to hear at times, against the sounds of surf and jungle, but I wonder if that was intentional and symbolic (i.e., the words of civilization struggling to rise above the roar of primitive Nature).

The important omissions were: Ralph's gradually increasing difficulty with thinking things through and needing more and more help from Piggy; Ralph's encounter with "The Lord of the Flies" in his mad dash for survival; the disappearance of the never-named boy with the birthmark, in the very beginning, which, in the novel, set off the fears and wild imaginings of the boys. The whole movie had a rushed pace to it, as if the producer and/or director had been given a tight budget.

Overall, I found this to be a good rendering of an excellent novel. I have never seen the remake, but have heard it's shallower.

5-0 out of 5 stars Are we humans really THAT bad???
This movie is a very skillful presentation of William Golding's eponymous, timeless sociological horror story. A group of boys ranging from around 6 to, I would guesstimate, 14 or 15, are stranded on a desert island. Unfortunately for the boys, the general spirit of their story parts ways with the spirit of "Gilligan's Island" immediately, and they end up deteriorating into tribal, superstitious savages, rent with internecine strife, in a matter of (evidently) weeks.

Any viewer out there who plans to see this movie should absolutely make an effort to read the book. You could possibly see the movie first, if you digest storylines more easily through movies than books. But whatever order you carry out the two activities in, you must see the movie AND read the book, if you want a full understanding of what the director was doing here.

Here are a few good things to notice. First of all, you should be aware that this film was shot mostly on the islet of Vieques, off the coast of Puerto Rico. It's hard to believe that this is true, because it's just so perfect -- Vieques is the island where the U.S. Navy practices bombing these days, and protesters against war have been getting into all kinds of clashes with the authorities the past few months (spring and summer of 2001). Maybe "Lord of the Flies" was more prophetic than the director, actors and writers ever even realized.

A second thing to notice is the song that is constantly playing, throughout most of the movie. The song is "Kyrie Eleison." At first Jack's choir sings it, and then it sort of becomes general background music. If you happen not to be particularly into going to church, let me just clue you in that "kyrie eleison" is Greek for "Lord have mercy," which I think you'll agree is a chillingly apt refrain for this relentlessly dark movie.

A third good thing to notice is the little boy, who progressively loses his memory of his own identity, over the course of the film. At first, he automatically recites his full name, address and phone number to any stranger he meets, as he was apparently taught to do by his parents. Midway through the film, he can remember only his name, and part of his address. By the end, not to spoil the ending by giving too much away, he cannot even recollect his name. "How quickly," one envisions William Golding bemoaning, "we forget!"

But I'm just pointing out a few minor things to notice. The basic theme is obviously the clash between savagery and civilization, and the tendency for things to fall apart, for the center not to hold... George Washington himself used to say that the job of government has to do with Fear -- instilling it in possible malefactors, in enemies of the state, even in respected members of the community, just to keep everyone in line. This movie makes you think about what might happen if that force were removed from society as a whole. If the function of art is to raise awareness of painful truths, as this movie does, then the individual must be sure to bring things other than art into their lives, in order to raise awareness of kinder truths which are no less valid, no less serious, and no less important for being kind. That's what I think anyway.

This is an interesting movie, and it will really make you think. Two thumbs up.

4-0 out of 5 stars a disturbing film.
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

This film, based on William Godling's novel, is a film that many will find disturbing.

Having not read the book, I am uncertain if the film is close to the book or not, but I have heard people say both. The story is about some schoolboys who become stranded on an island after a plane crash. They later, (with no adult presence) start regressing to a savage state and do not remain civilized.

The film itself also has nudity which I am surprised the censors let pass given the time period in which the film was made. Even by today's standards, some may question the legality of nudity involving children. Since the nudity is clearly non-sexual it is legal, but still will offend some people.

There are numerous special features which are as follows.

Full length audio comentary by the director Peter Brook, producer Lewis Allen, director of photography Tom Hollyman, camera operator and editor Gerald Feil.

Theatrical trailer with and without audio commentary about a major problem that almost happened at the film's premire.

Deleted scene with and without commentary and a reading by author, William Golding.

Excerpts from the novel read by the author William Golding.
Screen tests and outtakes.

Scenes from a documentary about director Peter Brook's theatrical techniques.

1-0 out of 5 stars Very bad adaptation.
Some books should not be attempted as movies, this clearly is one of them. If you just watch the film instead of reading Golding's story, you'll be missing out on much of the wonderful symbolism, the character development and most bizarre of all, the actual Lord Of The Flies itself. It would seem logical that some of the more disturbing parts of the book would be minimized on screen but the amount of this story that was neglected to turn this tragic tale into a film is criminal, might as well be a different story. Not recommended at all.

4-0 out of 5 stars Peter Brook's 1963 version of William Golding's novel
The 1963 version of "Lord of the Flies" was made on an island off of Puerto Rico by director Peter Brook with a cast made up on the sons of English parents that could be found on the island and in the United States. Only one of the children playing a major character, James Aubrey, who played Ralph, ever made another movie (although Nicholas Hammond, who played Robert, would have a real career in films and television). This becomes a key factor in the film because we are not dealing with child actors, which usually works for the film, but not always. But the more telling factor is that this film is only 92 minutes long, which meant some key elements from William Golding's celebrated novel are omitted. Ultimately, your feelings for this film are going to depend on your familiarity with the novel.

Brooks creates an effective prologue consisting of a series of stills that set up the key elements of the situation: a boys school, a war, an evacuation, and a plane going down near enough to an island for a group of boys to survive. They find themselves on the island without any adults. Ralph (James Aubrey) argues that there have to be rules, while Jack (Tom Chapin), the leader of the choir (he can hit high C) thinks he should be in charge. If Ralph represents civilization while Jack is hearing the call of the wild, then it is Piggy (Hugh Edwards) who represents human intelligence. But in the inevitable shift in power that goes from Ralph to Jack as the children devolve into savages, it is Piggy who becomes the pivotal victim.

What is sacrificed in the film are the two characters who occupy the next level of significance in the novel, Roger (Roger Elwin) and Simon (Tom Gaman), and while that choice is understandable it is what keeps this from being a great adaptation. Still, you cannot fault Brook for reducing the novel to the pivotal triad and the essence of Golding's novel is here if not the depth and rich symbolism. But even as we marvel at the performances that Brook coaxes from his young actors, and the cinematography by Tom Hollyman (who had been a still photographer before this film), we really do have to remember that it is 1963 and the idea of depicting the horrors of this novel on the screen was a risky endeavor. The fact that the novel is allegorical (i.e., Brooks is probably right in claiming on the basis of his filming experience that in the real world the boys would not have lasted a week) would not be enough to temper the reactions of audiences to little boys killing one another in the wild.

This Criterion Collection edition has the usually goodies, although instead of a scholarly commentary track this time it consists of reminiscences by Brook, producer Lewis Allen, director of photography Tom Hollyman and cameraman/editor Gerald Feil. As such tracks go it is certainly above average, but I have to admit that I enjoy the academic approach usually found on Criterion's DVDs. There are also excerpts from the novel read by Golding that are interesting, although obviously not insightful (the excerpts are keyed to the same scenes in the movie). There is also a clip from Gerald Feil's documentary "The Empty Space" showing Brook's method of creating theater, a production scrapbook, outtakes, home movies, a deleted scene, and the original theatrical trailer ... Read more


3. Marat / Sade
Director: Peter Brook
list price: $14.95
our price: $13.46
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Asin: B00005BKZN
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 10602
Average Customer Review: 4.11 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com essential video

In 1964, German playwright Peter Weiss wowed the international theater scene with his Berlin production of The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade. An instant sensation, the play caught the attention of iconic theater director Peter Brook, whose own stage production captivated audiences in New York the next year. Brook then filmed his production in 1966, and the resulting movie, Marat/Sade, stands as one of the best-loved screen adaptations of a play, by both critics and theater fans alike. (The 1996 film Quills is a good example of the story's lasting resonance.) As can be surmised by the play's original title, the action focuses on the Marquis de Sade (Patrick Magee) circa 1808, who, while imprisoned at Charenton Asylum, writes and directs a play starring his fellow inmates. Dramatizing the final hours of French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat (Ian Richardson) before he was killed by Charlotte Corday (Glenda Jackson, in one of the defining moments of her career), de Sade offers the play as an entertaining whim for the tiny audience of asylum director Coulmier (Clifford Rose) and his family. Utilizing the "theatre of cruelty" theory of avant-garde pioneer Antonin Artaud--once an asylum inmate himself--Brook's presentation of Marat/Sade confronts with jagged language, sounds and visuals, in an attempt to shock the movie audience into dissatisfaction and action against the status quo, mirroring the way de Sade's play within the film stirs the asylum inmates to high dudgeon and revolution. --Heather Campbell ... Read more

Reviews (18)

3-0 out of 5 stars More Spectacle than Substance.
In 1808, at a mental institution in Charenton, outside of Paris, France, the patients perform a play for a visiting audience of the city's high society. The play was written and directed by the infamous Marquis de Sade (Patrick Magee), a long-term resident of the asylum known throughout the Western world for his scandalous philosophical novels. The play -and sometimes musical- is a reenactment of key events in France's tumultuous recent past. It dramatizes the French Revolution, its aftermath, and the eventual murder of revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat (Ian Richardson) by Charlotte Corday (Glenda Jackson) in 1793. Interspersed throughout the play are monologues by Marat and de Sade that articulate their conflicting socio-political ideologies.

"Marat/Sade" is a movie of a play -indeed of a play within a play- that was performed by The Royal Shakespeare Company under the direction of Peter Brook in 1967. The play was originally written by playwright Peter Weiss and entitled "The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum at Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade", which is an accurate, if cumbersome, title. "Marat/ Sade" is a film of that play, and it is filmed in a style that draws attention to the fact that we are watching a play. To put it bluntly, it is filmed more awkwardly than well. The style of the play/movie reflects some of the experimental fashions in the art world of the late 1960s. The performances are interesting and heartfelt, but more melodramatic than convincing. The actors are playing performers who suffer from various mental ailments who are in turn playing roles in a play. -Kind of like playing two characters at once. The behavior of the asylum's histrionic inmates sometimes seems to coincide with their particular mental conditions and sometimes seems to be an acting class exercise in various extreme but unlikely emotional states. The chorus and minor players are generic crazies: ugly, outrageous, and pitiful, who seem to exist primarily to be just that. The most interesting aspect of the film is its philosophical monologues by Jean-Paul Marat and the Marquis de Sade. The antics of the mental patients trying to stage a proper full-length play and occasionally being overcome by their madness are funny, but ultimately most of the film just seems like clutter between the far more coherent monologues.

Like most experimental theater, "Marat/Sade" is more about spectacle than about presenting a credible story or characters. The Marquis de Sade actually was an inmate at the Asylum at Charenton. And he did write plays which were performed by his fellow inmates for visiting Parisian aristocrats. But those plays have not survived. Whatever de Sade's plays at Charenton were about, they almost certainly had philosophical underpinnings. "Marat/Sade" showcases the conflicting ideologies of The Marquis de Sade and Jean-Paul Marat, but it doesn't do it very well. Philosophy also plays second fiddle to spectacle. The monologues are disjointed and none of the ideas are complete. The film toys with themes here and there, and then drops them. Only the idea that humans are violent savages if left unchecked is expressed coherently. Ultimately, "Marat/Sade" has the feeling of something that actors, writers, and directors like to create because it exercises their abilities, but that audiences don't like to watch because it isn't valuable beyond that. It's a movie made for performing, not for viewing. In a nutshell, this is 1960s experimental theater. It you like that, you'll probably like this. If you don't, you won't.

The DVD (This refers to the Image Entertainment DVD only.): The disc has very poor sound, as if some dialogue simply wasn't miked. You'll have to turn the volume way up to hear some of the dialogue and then quickly back down so as not to be deafened. The sound badly needs to be remixed. This disc is full screen; the movie was filmed in a widescreen aspect ratio. Instead of compressing the wider image into a full screen ratio, the sides of the image have simply been chopped off. So you can't see what's going on in the periphery. There are no bonus features on the disc. Basically, this is a bad disc. Image Entertainment usually does better. But it looks like they're no longer producing it, so perhaps the MGM/UA disc is better.

4-0 out of 5 stars Demanding, Stimulating, But Of Limited Appeal
MARAT/SADE is the film version of a play that arose from an actor's workshop exploring various theatrical theories expressed by French actor-director-writer Antoine Artard, who extolled a style of performance he described as "theatre of cruelty"--which, broadly speaking, consists of an assault upon the audience's senses by every means possible. Ultimately, and although it makes effective use of its setting and the cinematography mirrors the chaos expected of such a situation, the film version of MARAT/SADE is less a motion picture than a record of a justly famous stage play that offers a complex statement re man's savagery.

The story of MARAT/SADE concerns the performance of a play by inmates of an early 1800s insane asylum, with script and direction by the infamous Marquis de Sade. (While this may sound a bit farfetched, it is based on fact: de Sade was known to have written plays for performance by inmates during his own incarceration in an asylum.) The story of the play concerns the assasination of the revolutionary Marat by Charotte Corday, but the play itself becomes a debate between various characters, all of which may be read as in someway intrinsically destructive and evil. Since all the characters are played by mentally-ill inmates of the asylum (the actor playing Marat, for example, is described as a paranoid, and the actress playing Corday suffers from sleeping sickness and meloncholia), the debate is further fueled by their insanity, unpredictability as performers, and the staff's reactions to both their behavior and the often subversive nature of the script they play out.

Patrick Magee as de Sade, Glenda Jackson as the inmate playing Corday (it was her breakout performance), and Ian Richardson as the inmate playing Marat offering impressive performances; indeed, the ensemble cast as a whole is incredibly impressive, and they keep the extremely wordy script moving along with considerable interest. Even so, it will be obvious that the material works better as a live performance than as a film, and I do not recommend it to a casual viewer; its appeal will be largely limited to the literary and theatrical intelligentsia. The DVD includes the original theatrical trailer, but beyond this there are no extras of any kind.

3-0 out of 5 stars Filming a play has mixed results
The legendary stage production of Marat/Sade was, I am sure, one of those great moments in theater history. I am somewhat grateful that an attempt was made to capture the moment on film for people who didn't witness it, but the film drags at times. I watched with interest at the directing choices, but was not fully involved with the action. I don't imagine there is any way to capture the sight of all the lunatics challenging the audience by their very presence. It doesn't communicate from a tv screen in quite the same way. This is a good record of theater history, but only an mediocre film.

4-0 out of 5 stars Intense, intelligent film
This 1966 film depicts the Marquis de Sade's imprisonment in a mental asylum and a play that he directs using the other inmates as actors. The story of Sade was recently related in "Quills," and that film is somewhat similar in tone, but not plot. Believe it or not, the film is also a musical! The "play" within the movie chronicles events from the French Revolution pertaining to Marat, and is put on for the asylum's leader and the local gentry. The local gentry are shocked at times, and the asylum leader interrupts the play several times with interjections concerning the play's radical ideas and how the gentry are depicted. As the play reaches its culmination, the inmates inevitably begin to stage their own revolution. The action is often confusing, but the emotions conveyed are so intense, that the film can be enjoyed on a visceral level.

The direction of this film is quite brilliant, and it must have been pretty shocking when it was released 36 years ago. The acting is also very intense and realistic. Glenda Jackson has her starring debut here and is quite appealing, considering that she's playing a mental asylum inmate. The only quibble I have with the DVD is the poor sound quality. Even on DVD, the sound is muddled and the actor's dialogue is often unintelligible, especially during the songs. Unfortunately, the DVD does not include captions/subtitles, which would have helped immensely (there are no other extras either). A very worthwhile movie that could have been presented better on this DVD.

5-0 out of 5 stars Prophecies Of The Divine Marquis.
This is certainly one of the great events of cinema history. Director Peter Brook wanted to re-create the play by Peter Weiss, The Persecution And Assassination Of Jean-Paul Marat, with the multiple-view possible only in cinema but without losing the immediacy of the stage. So, he used a stationary camera for long shots and hand-held camera for close-ups and the result, somewhere bewteen cinema and stage, is phenomenal. Everything in the production is first-rate. There are large exquisite performances by Patrick Magee as Sade, Ian Richardson as Marat, and Glenda Jackson as Corday and equally fine smaller performances down to the most anonymous lunatic. The script is very fine and well translated from the German. The music is wonderful.
This film was released in 1966, one year after Grove Press issued its handsome 750 page paperback volume The Marquis De Sade (...) which, along with this film, really began the popular American interest in Sade which has continued up to the present. But the picture of Sade in this 1966 film is much more interesting, deeper, and closer to the truth than anything that has come since then. Sade was not a pornographer or a smut peddler, he was a literary philosopher whose books were not intended to arouse sexual desire, but rather to overthrow conventional premises and assumptions about reality itself. The endless sadistic/masochistic sex scenes in his books are really not about sex at all, they are about breaking down the illusions in the human mind and seeing reality for what it is: an endless, bottomles process of creation and destruction that is utterly indifferent to any human desire or feeling. Sade's 'perverse criminals' are merely people attempting to identify with this transcendent force as individuals because that is the only real power and 'dignity' that they have. Sade believed that the world was destined to become one vast mad slaughterhouse and the film conveys this very well. But what Marat/Sade really captures is Sade's passionate and prophetic position in modern history. Who could deny that this film is at least as relevant now as it was in 1966 and that its relevance will probably continue to deepen? Where is the modern philosopher who can prove Sade wrong? Whether one likes it or not this is what makes this film still such an urgent work of art. Only in Bresson or Tarkovsky can the negative force of its revelation be countered by a different perspective. It remains a crucial masterpiece. Highly recommended. ... Read more


4. Marat / Sade
Director: Peter Brook
list price: $24.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 630508159X
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 45360
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Description

The infamous Marquis de Sade, confined to an asylum, directs the other inmates in a re-enactment of the bloody assassination of French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat. Glenda Jackson, Patrick MaGee and Ian Richardson star in this terrifying descent into an eerie world of madness and murder. Full title: "The Persecution andAssassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade." ... Read more


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