Michael Birkett

Michael Birkett

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Marat/Sade Review


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Whether it's based on reality or not, Marat/Sade is an ambitious idea. The Marquis de Sade (Patrick Magee), often wrote and produced plays during his incarceration. Whether he made one about Jean-Paul Marat is debatable and this is certainly not based on anything Sade wrote.

Marat/Sade is actually a filmed version of a play written in the early 1960s (and fully titled 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) by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Ian Richardson plays the bathtub-bound Marat, and Glenda Jackson plays his assassin. The only problem, of course, is that in the world of the film, Richardson is a lunatic paranoid and Jackson is a narcoleptic depressive. This makes for some strange interpretations of history, mental illness, heroism, and politics -- and where we draw the lines among all these things.

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Michael Birkett

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