Revolution at The Dryden: A review of the Dryden Theatre’s screening of the brilliant, shocking, and influential 1967 film “Marat/Sade”.
Recently I had the pleasure of seeing a very shocking film. The film did not overly rely on gore, or extreme acts of physical mutilation. No, this film shocked intellectually. It acknowledged the extreme acts of violence that qualify many films as shocking, but it did not rely solely on this qualifier to provoke a visceral reaction.
The film titled Marat/Sade (1967) directed by Peter Brook, based off a play written by Peter Weiss, is a cerebral nightmare brought to visual form.
Two ideologies that seek to overthrow the status quo are at war. Revolution has occurred and now lines the corner of the mouths that devoured it. It sits there as a reminder of the first course and waits patiently for the second. But the cooks in the kitchen, Marquis de Sade and Jean-Paul Marat are having second doubts (and many bouts) regarding what the second course will be.
In Marat/Sade, Marquis de Sade is the writer and director of a play being performed by the occupants of the Asylum of Charenton. The audience watching the play sits behind bars and we sit behind them (behind the screen). The bourgeoisie are also in attendance and every now and then they inject themselves into the play demanding that certain things be left out and/or changed. It should be noted that they sit within the cell where the play is being performed.
The fourth wall is commonly broken and many a song is sung as Marquis de Sade tells the tale of his ideological adversary, Jean-Paul Marat’s, death, the events that led up to it, and the events that transpired after. He details their ideological differences and with the skill of a possibly deranged surgeon, dissects the outer and inner turmoil of the French Revolution and the murder of one of its architects.
I’m generally not much for musicals, save for ‘Phantom of the Opera’ (unsurprisingly), but I loved every song that was sung in ‘Marat/Sade’. What’s more, I loved the visuals, the actors, the simple set design, the beginning and the end. There wasn’t one thing I didn’t “enjoy” about Marat/Sade. It’s an extremely difficult film to watch. It should be on every extreme and shocking film list.
I saw Marat/Sade with my friend and fellow revolutionary, Josh Blodgett, at The Dryden Theatre. Marat/Sade was part of their After Bedlam series. I highly recommend that you visit the Dryden Theatre if you’re ever in Rochester and check out the films that they screen. Marat/Sade was a film that Josh and I were entirely unaware of, even though it was right up our alley. If you visit the Dryden, you too may discover such a gem.
As is customary of all Dryden Theatre screenings, an introduction was given before Marat/Sade commenced. The introduction was very in keeping with the film about to be shown and detailed how this film was put on by The Royal Shakespeare Company, and how dangerous this film could be viewed. It sparked a sense of revolution in the audience. It opened up our minds to the possibility of such a film like Marat/Sade existing.
A special thank you to The Dryden Theatre for allowing Josh and I to see this brutally experimental and thought-provoking piece of “sinema”.