Madame de Sade (1992) - full transcript

Ingmar Bergman's staging at the Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm. While the Marquis De Sade is in prison on charges of crimes of gross perversion, his faithful wife Renee awaits him. Despite all the horrors her husband has committed, she believes that his evil is sacred. Her mother however does everything possible to ensure that the Marquis stays in prison.



What a strange way
of receiving one's guests!

She sent for me
and then keeps me waiting like this!

No doubt Mme de Montreuil is beside
herself with worry for her son-in-law.

I can't imagine
that time has healed her wounds.

But I haven't seen her
since... what happened.

Always, everywhere, we gloss over
the matter saying ''what happened''--

--exchanging looks and knowing
smiles. Surely you are well informed?

No. Alphonse and I are childhood

I'm content to remember him
as a child, with his lovely fair hair.

As you wish, Madame.

For my part, I shall disclose
the precise and detailed information--

--which I have collected
with every means at my disposal.

Three months ago,
on the 27th of June--

--Donatien-Alphonse-Fran?ois, Marquis
de Sade, journeyed to Marseilles--

--with Latour, his servant.
There, one morning, he assembled--

--four young women in a house
belonging to a certain Mariette Borelly.

All four were of course whores.

He took a handful of gold coins
out of his pocket and said--

--that he would favour the girl who
could guess how many coins he had.

Marianne won. He sent the other
women out, but the servant stayed.

Then he ordered the two of them
to lie on the bed--

--whipped the girl with one hand and
aroused the servant with the other.

All the while Alphonse addressed his
servant as ''Monsieur le Marquis''--

--and made the man
call his master Latour.

After that he dismissed the servant,
took out a crystal box set in gold--

--that contained aniseed pastilles
and told the girl to help herself.

A remedy for flatulence, he said.
In fact they were an aphrodisiac--

--made of dried tiger beetle
and Spanish fly.

You know about that, don't you?
You should try it some time.

Marianne ate seven or eight
of the pastilles.

When she finished, the Marquis...

...promised her a louis d'or
if she let him do a certain thing.

The thing you're said to be so fond
of. When the morning sun...

...lights the front of a statue of
Venus that stands in a park--

--the dazzling light penetrates right
inside a vulva of snow-white marble.

But when the sun, having circled
the garden for half a day--

--sinks beneath the trees, which part
of Venus do the sun's rays penetrate?

Only a devil would do
something like that!

Then Alphonse took out
a bloodstained, barbed whip--

--apparently often used.

He made her undress and kneel
at the foot of the bed.

When he had castigated her, he
ordered her to do the same to him.

Alphonse carved the number of blows
on the chimney-piece with a knife...

The figures were 215, 179--

--225 and 240...

- ...or a total of...
- 859 lashes!

He has always
been fascinated by figures--

--since only figures
are truly irrefutable.

If numbers are at an inconceivable
level, vice itself becomes a miracle.

- Watch out, you too may go to hell!
- Thank you for the warning.

Then it was Rose's turn. The whip,
the servant, a new combination--

--as in a game of cards. Then came
Marianette, the whip, the servant...

So the morning's performance ended
with wailing and screaming.

The Marquis gave the girls six gold
coins each and sent them packing.

He lowered the Venetian blinds
on the windows facing the sea--

--and sank into a slumber, as deep
and untroubled as a child's...

An innocent, dreamless sleep. It was
as if he had been buried in the sand--

--of a beach where all the d?bris
had been washed away--

--where the shells had been ground
to dust, the seaweed had dried--

--and the dead fish turned to reeds...

Next morning at cockcrow he left
Marseilles in a three-horse carriage--

--and drove home to La Coste.
Needless to say, he had no idea--

--that two days later the girls
testified before the public prosecutor.

Madame de Montreuil
will be with you shortly.

Charlotte! Don't run away!

You worked for me, before you rushed
off and became engaged in this house.

You know all
about my private life.

You know people whisper behind my
back that I am the Devil incarnate--

--that I've harvested all the weeds
that grow on the Isle of Love.

It is unforgivable of me
to keep you waiting so long.

Madame la Comtesse de Saint-Fond...

Madame la Baronne de Simiane...
how kind of you to come!

Tell us whatever you wish, without
reticence. It may console you--

--to have someone to listen.
We shall not repeat a word.

Perhaps this is not the right
occasion for revealing it--

--but when Ren?e married Alphonse,
I was impressed with his character.

He had a slightly foolish air,
but he was witty and charming--

--and so obviously in love
with my daughter.

And through their bond you became
related to the house of Bourbon.

At first, my son-in-law showed
his most lovable side.

While the newly-weds ere honey--
mooning at the Chateau Echauffour--

--Alphonse wrote small plays with
parts for both my daughter and me.

Alphonse was an adorable child. We
were playing in the rosegarden once--

--when I pricked myself on a thorn.
Alphonse not only pulled it out...

- ...but sucked the wound clean.
- Even then he had a taste for blood.

- You talk as if he were a vampire!
- No doubt vampires can be lovable.

Ladies! Whatever is said
about Alphonse today--

--nothing can favourably influence
my view of his character.

As these agreeable theatrical
performances were going on--

--Alphonse travelled frequently to
Paris, claiming important business.

When, only five months after the
wedding, he was thrown into prison--

--I learnt the truth.
It was a dreadful shock.

In the ensuing nine years,
I have waged a hopeless battle--

--to protect the family's good name
and my daughter's honour.

Ren?e has refused to be crushed by
what has happened. But this time...

Oh, I know it's hopeless.
Still, for my daughter's sake...

I must do my best to save Alphonse.
But today... Alphonse is ill!

How can one convince a patient
that he needs curing from an illness--

--which evidently gives him
so much pleasure?

However repulsive to outsiders, it is
a sickness with a scent of roses.

Since I'm considered
an authority on immorality--

--I beg you to listen carefully.

Depravity is a preserve unto itself,
in which nothing is lacking.

It has its shepherds' huts and
windmills, its streams and lakes.

But the whole landscape is not
so tranquil: there are wastelands--

--valleys belching sulphorous fumes,
predators, dried-up springs...

May I continue?

This ample domain
was designed by God.

However strange the phenomena
that occur there, they are intrinsic.

The child, and I'm spealing
from personal experience--

--tales the telescope provided, and
looks through it from the wrong end.

A telescope, used in the way
prescribed by morality and convention--

--shows only how small the lawn and
flowers surrounding one's home are.

The child feels secure and is content
with the beauty of its small domain.

It starts hoping that once grown up,
it can enlarge lawns and flowerbeds.

But one day, something happens that
strikes the child without premonition:

you discover that the telescope
has been the wrong way round.

And then you suddenly perceive
what you've never seen before:

the flames of sulphorous fire
in remote valleys--

--the savage animals in the
wilderness with their fangs bared.

You know then that your world
is an endless one--

--of infinite variety.

I have no idea what you're talking
about. I have kept on struggling--

--rushing to and fro, unbelieving...
All I understand is honour and glory.

All in vain. The High Court in
Provence condemned Alphonse to death.

Since the accused was not present
and his whereabouts unknown--

--his portrait was burnt... the stake. I can well imagine
flames licking at the friendly smile--

--and fair hair of my son-in-law's
portrait, while the mob cheered...

Perhaps that was the first glimpse
of the inferno in our world.

The masses must have been yelling
''More wood!'' and ''Make it burn!''--

--expressing envy for the depravity
they themselves were incapable of.

''More wood!'' What would we do if
the shouts reached all the way here?

Some in the crowd are said to have
shouted Ren?e's name, even mine!

''More wood on the fire!"
It must have been a purifying fire.

When the Marquis' portrait went up
in flames, it atoned for his sins.

''More wood on the fire!"

The lashing flames struck his pale
cheeks and fair hair mercilessly.


I'm sure the portrait was smiling.

Madame, please consider my plight.
I'm alone, I have no one to turn to.

All my plans have misfired. My voice
is hoarse from all my lamenting.

Tale heart, Madame! I shall hasten
to pay a visit to Cardinal Philippe--

--and ask him to secure absolution
from the Vatican.

I have no wish to compete with
Madame de Simiane in magnanimity--

--nor do I usually strive for
justice, honour or virtue.

But I shall do what I can, not for
your sake, but for the Marquis.

I shall coax the steadfast Chancellor
to annul the high court's decision.

Surely you asked me here
to induce me to use my body?

- I would never dream of such a...
- You needn't dissemble.

Making use of evil for a virtuous
purpose, is a respectable thing to do.

- So I can count on your help?
- Yes, you can, Madame.

I would have been prepared to beg
on my knees. How can I thank you?

I have no desire to be thanked.

- Excuse me, Madame...
- What is it? Speak up.

In this house there is no longer
anything to keep secret.

- The Marquise de Sade is here.
- My daughter? What brings her here?

Without a word of advance notice...
Very well... Show her in.

Ren?e! I'm so pleased to see you.
I've missed you.

I was so eager to see you, Mother,
that I just packed and left.

It has been raining every day
at La Coste. Outside the chateau--

--I kept meeting the stares and
surreptitious whispering of the villagers.

I was alone all day. At night
the torchlight flickered on the walls--

--the bats flew around
and the owls screeched...

I've come to Paris, because
I longed to see you, albeit briefly--

--and to confide in you,
if only a few words.

It was good of you to come.
I've sat here all on my own too--

--almost losing my head with worry
about my poor daughter.

Have you met
the Comtesse de Saint-Fond?

My daughter, the Marquise de Sade.

- Madame de Simiane, it's been long.
- You've been through an ordeal.

These ladies
have promised to help us.

Two allied friends like this mean as
much as a band a thousand strong!

- You should thank them too, Ren?e.
- My humble thanks.

It's a pleasure to be of help.
I shall act promptly in the morning.

- It's time we left.
- Our fate is in your hands.

I greatly appreciate
anything you can do for us.

Before we go, I'd like
to ask the Marquise...

Perhaps it is not quite appropriate,
but such is my nature.

We've heard a fair amount
about the Marquis from your mother.

I myself have collected more precise
information than the gossip entails.

You and the family walk about without
a trace of protective disguise.

I don't suppose any question
can surprise you now.

This might make you willing to
answer some indiscreet questions.

- Am I right?
- Of course.

I am convinced the Marquis cannot
express affection except indirectly--

--through the cruelty that is
the inverse of tenderness.

How does this apply in your case?

- That's enough, Mme de Saint-Fond!
- I mean, how does he treat you?

If I reply that he is sweet and
considerate, you'll think him cruel.

- And if I say that he is brutal...
- How astute you are!

He is my husband, and he loves me
as a husband loves his wife.

Even if you should see us in bed,
I would not need to be ashamed.

How strange! Perhaps such a refined
couple do not even need tenderness?

- No, and not cruelty either.
- We really must leave now.

And please forgive the intrusion.

I am truly grateful for your visit.
How can I thank you...

What a snake! And I have to ask
that woman for a favour!

You handled it admirably.
That was a truly dignified reply.

I was prepared for unpleasantness.
The ladies will help us free Alphonse.

- So they have promised.
- Poor Alphonse!

It was worth coming to Paris
just to hear such welcome news.

I thought you said you'd come
to Paris to see me.

- Where is Alphonse now?
- I wonder.

Did he leave without telling even
his wife where he was heading?

If I'd known, I would have found
it difficult to pretend ignorance.

It is best for me to know nothing.
His safety is my paramount wish.

What a loyal wife you are!
My ideals really have borne fruit!

And then
you get a husband like that!

The value of a wife's chastity is
independent of her husband's character.

Yes, but there are limits.

If my husband's debauchery exceeds
the limits, so must my obligations.

It breaks my heart to see how
patiently you endure all your troubles.

Your blessed father was, after all,
honorary president of the Tax Court.

We always lived an honourable life,
far from wicked gossip.

What curse has heaped such
misfortunes on our beloved daughter?

I loathe that word, ''misfortunes''!

I've always had to adapt to you.
Your wishes have been my commands.

To save your husband, I've swallowed
my pride, begged outsiders for help!

But now that you've turned up
unexpectedly like this--

--I shall speak my mind.
I don't care what happens--

--to our royal connections.
You must divorce Alphonse!

- God doesn't allow divorce.
- But leave him then, at least!

The formalities don't matter,
so long as you cut all ties.

If God does not allow the form of
divorce, it's because separation--

--will remedy your misfortunes,
without severing our royal connections.

- No, I won't leave Alphonse.
- Why not, Ren?e?

Is it just obduracy, or is it a matter
of etiquette and good form?

I refuse to believe it is love.

I don't know if love is the right
word. During my sleepless nights--

--I have pondered on everything
that has happened since we married.

It has all become clear.

Fragments that lay scattered in my
memory have fallen into place--

--and become strung together like
a necklace - a necklace of rubies...

...of precious stones as red as blood.

I remember how on our honeymoon
Alphonse stopped our carriage--

--in a lily field. He wanted to
intoxicate the flowers--

--and he had a cask of red wine
emptied over their white heads.

Then he watched in delight as
the red wine dripped from the petals.

Another time we came home from
a hunt, and with his bare hands--

--he removed the heart from the
bloodstained breast of a white hare.

He smiled contentedly and said
that all loving hearts look the same.

Things that I took for whims
have become part of a pattern--

--with their own signifiance.

I was gripped by a feeling
beyond all logic.

If all the rubies that whirled in my
mind had been joined to a necklace--

--it was my duty to take good care
of it and make it my own.

It was not you but Alphonse
who lost those rubies.

- Now he has entrusted them to me.
- Your pride will be the ruin of you.

However I express myself, I don't
think you can understand. Once more:

Now I know what the truth is.
My loyalty is based on that truth.

Do you understand what Alphonse's
wife is trying to say?

The truth is the whip and the
pastilles... shame and dishonour.

You and everyone else
look only to facts.

It's easy to dismiss him as a monster,
when one is a normal person.

But Alphonse really is a monster.

Then I can hardly be sane myself,
and no one can rely on me.

- Ren?e, you don't mean that you...
- Don't worry.

You give your imagination just as
free a rein as Madame de Saint-Fond.

Alphonse is like music with a single
theme. I vowed to be faithful to it.

The theme may be tender,
or resound with lashes of a whip.

But Alphonse has never
made me hear the lashes.

Whether it's a sign of his respect
or his contempt, I don't know.

- You've been deceived, like me.
- No man has ever deceived a woman.

- But if he were a normal man...
- Alphonse is a man!

Of course when we married I had no
idea that he was a man like this.

But still, I think
I have always known him.

Perhaps I have loved the shadows--

--that may be glimpsed behind
his radiant brow and shining gaze.

What's the difference between loving
roses and loving the scent of roses?

What a stupid question! The rose
has the scent suitable for a rose.

I beg you, save Alphonse.
If he is pardoned--

--I shall do my utmost to move his
heart, to soothe the fury in his soul--

--to make sure he is never again the
subject of evil gossip. This time...

You're exhausted. Rest awhile.
You're bound to find some way out.

I'll accompany you to your room.

Why don't you wish to see
your sister, mademoiselle?

Unpleasant words might be uttered.
I've returned to see my mother--

--and find my sister. What bad luck!
The look in her eyes frightens me.

How can you say that
about your own sister?

You can go, Charlotte.
I shall wait for Mother here.

- Anne! What a surprise!
- It's a long time since we last met.

- To have both my daughters home!
- Charlotte just said. Where is Ren?e?

In her room, resting. But how was
your journey? Where did you go?

- To Italy. I was mainly in Venice.
- Then you really did go a long way.

- I didn't want to be known.
- An innocent lady of noble descent?

It was my travelling companion
who wished not to be recognized.

- A lady friend?
- No, my brother-in-law.


Surely you don't mean that you
travelled with Alphonse?

- Yes, we were together all the time.
- But how could you?

I was invited to La Coste.

On the very first night
Alphonse came to my bedroom.

He didn't ask
whether I wanted it or not.

When he was sought by the police
he asked me to flee with him.

How dreadful! He's an evil spirit
in human guise.

Poor Ren?e!

This must stay between you and me.

You must on no account say anything
to Ren?e. It would kill her.

My sister already knows everything.
What happened at La Coste...

..that we travelled to Italy. She
also knows where Alphonse is hiding.

Does Ren?e know?

Where is Alphonse hiding now?
I suppose you know that too?

- Of course I know.
- Where, then?

At Chamb?ry, in Sardinia. He's
hiding at a farm outside the town.

- In Sardinia, did you say?
- At Chamb?ry.


I'm going to write three letters.
I want them delivered straight away.

Stay here!

- How was the summer in Venice?
- Wonderful!

Mortal danger, love, death,
turbid canals...

And the square that one couldn't
cross when the water rose...

- I'd like to go somewhere like that
- Every night you could hear a duel.

There were bloodstains on the
bridges in the morning mist.

And the whole sky was
full of pigeons!

When nothing disturbs them, they
strut around St. Mark's Square--

--but when frightened they all rise
at once, with rustling wings...

The peals of the campanile bells,
resounding over the still water...

All the bridges, as countless as
the pigeons. And the moon...

You must have enjoyed the gondolas,
and the gondoliers' singing!

Gondolas? Singing? I suppose that is
what Venice means to other people.


One to the Comtesse de Saint-Fond,
the other to the Baronne de Simiane.

Make sure they understand that I
retract something I requested earlier.

The third letter is a petition
to His Majesty the King.

I shall deliver this one
to the Palace personally.


- I have good news.
- What's it all about, so suddenly?

You can have it...
if you can take it!

- Don't tease, Anne.
- Look, here it is!

How childish you are!

"Decision of the High Court
in Provence:

The accused, Donatien-Alphonse-
Fran?ois de Sade is reprimanded--

--for the crimes of sodomy and
indecency committed by him.

Furthermore, the said Marquis is
required to pay fines of 50 louis d'or--

--and prohibited, for the ensuing
three years, to reside in Marseilles.

On payment of fines, his name
will be deleted from the records."

- That was good news, wasn't it?
- It's like a dream.

- More like waking from a nightmare.
- This means Alphonse is free...

...and so am I... after six long years.

Six years ago we concocted those
plans to save Alphonse, remember?

You'd just come back from Italy,
where you had consoled Alphonse.

''Consoled Alphonse''! Isn't it time
to stop using such euphemisms?

- After all, it's past history.
- Yes, of course it's the past - gone.

For six years I hammered on a door
of stone. My nails were torn off--

--my fists became bloody, but it was
beyond my power to open that door.

- You did your best.
- But my best wasn't good enough.

If it was our mother's strength
that make that door close--

--it's also her strength that has
made it open, quite unexpectedly.

So now mother and daughters are
reconciled, and the daughters too.

Of course. You've grown up...

...and I've grown old.

No, your radiant face is younger and
more beautiful than six years ago.

Happiness... In the world's eyes
I'm the unhappiest of people.

Last winter at La Coste,
there was such a shortage of wood--

--that all I could do to get some
warmth was crawl into bed.

I've never felt such joy
about the spring.

When the grass turned green and the
sun filtered down on the icy floors--

--through the round windows high up,
like great shining brass trumpets--

--my hope was reawakened that
Alphonse would regain his freedom.

It was as if Alphonse's debauchery
and my own distress had merged.

In these six years, my unhappiness
has finally caught up--

--with Alphonse's obsession -
or so it seems.

I have felt his
terrible loneliness in prison--

--as strongly as if
myself had experienced it.

I have realized that whatever
depraved actions he has carried out--

--he has always striven
for the unattainable.

That is why Alphonse
has never loved anyone...

...not even you.

Nor you, sister?

Perhaps that is why you and I have
managed to become friends again.

And the happiness you mentioned?

How shall I describe the happiness?

It is like a piece of handiwork
that makes one's neck stiff--

--like a kind of needlework.

Stitch by stitch, the embroiderer
sews in loneliness, weariness--

--anxiety, sadness, nights of terror--

--and sunrises of dismay--

--and she sighs with relief when she
has completed a small tapestry...

...with conventional roses.

A woman's hands
and a woman's patience--

--can even transform
the torments of hell into roses.

Ren?e, isn't it wonderful?

- I owe everything to you, mother.
- Don't overdo the gratitude.

- You've felt very bitter towards me.
- I blush to hear you say that.

Alphonse should be home at La Coste
already. I must prepare to leave.

- You needn't be in such a hurry.
- No, you can very well let him wait.

Today I think we should be together
all three like we used to--

--and tell one another about
the hardships we've gone through.

Like that time when Alphonse
managed to escape from prison.

I can't stop hating him for treating
my daughters so disgracefully.

- He hasn't treated med disgracefully.
- Nor me.

What you say is ridiculous
and incomprehensible!

His desire flares up like a sacriledge--

--like when a horse is excited by
trampling the frozen grass...

That's why he always follows
a fixed pattern:

he lets the muddy water of a cold
morning crystallize into sacred ice--

--that he crushes underfoot. Whores
are momentarily turned into saints--

--so that he can whip them. The next
moment the dream is torn to shreds.

Then he gets rid of the whores
and beggars--

--and has no one to feed the honey
of tenderness he has collected inside--

--after these moments of rapture.

Then he returns to me--

--and lets all his love flow over me.

Under the dazzling sun, he toils
to collect the honey of tenderness--

--and bestows it on me where I'm
waiting in the cool, dark hive.

How you end up adorning Alphonse
with your understanding, your poetry!

I never thought of understanding him.
With me, he let himself go.

He loves me like a man.
And I responded like a woman.

Since you venture to be so open,
I have something to add:

I used you as a tool.

Alphonse could never behave
like a normal man with me--

--since I knew he wasn't a normal
man. That's why I chose you.

You don't have my memories of
Venice. I'm sorry for you.

The moon, red as blood,
rising out of a canal in the mist...

An umade bed, redolent of seaweed
washed up on a white beach--

--full of the dampness
and odour of the sea.

The bloodstained recollections
that sometimes showed in his eyes...

- ...were the source of our tenderness.
- What a revolting topic of discussion!

The Comtesse de Saint-Fond asks
to be admitted for a brief word.

Well, she's heard most of it.
Ask her to come in.

I took the liberty of arriving
like this. I trust you don't mind.

At least I'm not flying in
on a broomhandle.

I have something to tell you.

Last night I acted like Mme de
Montespan in the days of Louis XIV.

A private audience with the King?
But they say our present monarch...

I shall tell you everything.
I need a good listener like you--

--not an easily scared creature
like Madame de Simiane.

A lady with courage and presence of
mind, who defends virtue at all times.

Thank you for the compliment.

When people feel a need to spice
their pleasures, they call to mind--

--how as children they enjoyed being
punished, and regret this loss.

Then they begin to scorn
the invisible Master--

--challenging him, arousing his wrath.
But divinity is a lazy dog:

while it is dozing in the sun, you can
pull its tail without it flinching.

- You say that God is a lazy dog?
- Yes, and a degenerate one too.

I misjudged the Marquis when I
considered that master of chastisement--

--that provost-marshal with his whip,
that hooligan, as one chosen by God.

No, the Marquis is a simple fellow,
we are members of the same coterie.

The clique surrounding the lazy dog
are both scourgers and scourged--

--both castigators and castigated,
trouble-makers of the same hue.

One challenges the dog
by flagellating--

--another by being flagellated...

One by shedding blood,
the other by letting blood flow...

And still the dog
does not deign to awaken.

The Marquis de Sade and I
are accomplices.

- How did you discover that?
- Not discover... I felt it.

- When did that happen?
- When I was serving as a table.

Nothing strange about that, is there?
To go straight to the point--

--I was stripped naked so that my
body could be used as an altar.

I was turned on my back
on a black shroud.

Between my breasts,
a small silver crucifix was laid.

The silver chalice placed
between my thighs--

--felt just as cold as a chamber-pot
of S?vres porcelain...

But none of this made me tremble
with pleasure at the blasphemy itself.

The moment for celebrating
the mass approached--

--and they gave me burning candles
to hold in my hands.

The flames were far away,
the boiling wax seemed distant...

In the Sun King's day, they
sacrificed babies at their black masses...

In these degenerate days,
the baby was replaced by a lamb.

The officiating priest invoked
Jesus Christ--

--and suddenly the anxious bleating
above my head gave way to a shriek.

And then the animal's blood
flowed over my breasts--

--over my stomach and down...

...into the holy chalice
between my thighs.

Until then I had found the whole
business half comic, half eccentric--

--but at that moment... flared up in my impassive heart.

While the hot wax dripped
on my outspread arms--

--which formed a cross of
wickedness, I understood--

--that the fire in my hands was
equivalent to the Crucifixion nails.

I'm telling you this not from
vanity or self-satisfaction.

I want you to understand that I've
made Alphonse's ecstacy my own.

Alphonse wants to see, I want to be
seen. Our experience is different.

But when the lamb's blood poured
like rain over my naked body--

--I realized who Alphonse really is.

- And who is he?
- Alphonse is myself.

He is me.

He is the bloodstained table
of human flesh--

--a quivering foetus with blind eyes,
ingrowing limbs; a divine miscarriage.

Yes, I realized that the Marquis de
Sade is the foetus aborted by God--

--who can be himself
only when he flees from himself--

--and that those surrounding Alphonse
- the women he tormented--

--and the women who tormented
him - were also Alphonse.

The man you call Alphonse
is a mere shadow.

If I understand you correctly,
you mean that Alphonse is blameless.

Presumably that is the term
in your vocabulary.

So you and the High Court judges
have come to the same conclusion.

Be glad, Madame. Thanks to my
mother Alphonse is free at last.

- Read it yourself.
- Strange... What date does it say?

- When was the court decision issued?
- I didn't think of that.

Here it is, in small lettering...
not surprising that I didn't notice it.

''14th July, 1778...''

The fourteenth of July!
Today is the first of September.

The decision was announced
one and a half months ago!

I've been in Paris all summer
without hearing about it.

Anne! What does this mean? Why
wasn't I told anything before now?

Why has my mother done this? Why
keep quiet about such happy news?

Alphonse must be waiting for me!
Yet I haven't heard a word from him.

- I'm going straight home to La Coste.
- There's no point.

The Marquis de Sade is safely
incarcerated again, in another prison.

It can't be true!
Alphonse has been pardoned.

- Mother, say it isn't true!
- The Comtesse teases you.

Today you'll regret that
an irreproachable lady like you--

--got involved with a woman like me.
Six years ago, you tried to use me.

Immediately afterwards, you changed
your mind and declined my assistance.

I can forgive your wanting to use
me, but not your rejecting my help.

I was denied the opportunity of
carrying out a virtuous deed--

--and that compels me once more
to play a part contrary to my nature.

I find myself in the unusual position
of revealing the true situation.

Your mother set a trap for Alphonse.

The retrial at the High Court was
a means of ensnaring him again.

You know my information is always
correct, don't you?

Not until yesterday did I myself find
out the details of what happened.

Last autumn your mother requested
an arrest warrant from His Majesty.

As soon as Alphonse had been
released by the court order of July 14--

--he was surrounded by the King's
guard and taken back to Vincennes.

This time he was moved to
an isolation cell--

--that was infinitely darker, colder
and damper than the first one.

On the way there he succeeded
in escaping, it is true--

--but don't worry, Madame!
Your son-in-law is in safe custody--

--in a dungeon fortified with double
iron doors, even the skylight has bars.

This time you can be sure
that he won't get out so easily.

I believe you said that you dropped
in while you were out on a walk?

I would like to accompany you
as you continue your walk.

I shall consider myself lucky to have
the company of such a charming tool.

First you were your sister's tool--

--then your mother's.

Next time
you can be mine, can't you?

By all means, use me as a table,
a chest of drawers or whatever!

You're a wise young woman.
You have two folding wings--

--that allow you to fly away from
every troublesome situation.

Those wings are undoubtedly
your own.

There we are, then, Madame.

Charlotte! Look closely at my face.
I shan't visit this house again.

You'll probably only see the faces
of impeccable people in the future--

--so you'd better memorize what
a dissolute woman looks like.

Why did you deceive me
in that despicable way?

We're both guilty of keeping secrets.
We stand opposed to each other:

I wish to keep Alphonse in prison,
you're determined to get him free.

Throughout, we've tried to thwart
each other's plans. Ren?e...

I've become old and tired, I don't
wish to quarrel with you any more.

But it's true that Alphonse is in
prison, and that it's your doing?

- I'm not the King.
- That was a wicked thing to do.

I thought a certain brutality was
required to bring you to your senses.

Once your eyes were opened,
you would break with Alphonse.

- I can't.
- Why not?

How long are you going to regard
that monster as your husband?

Has he been faithful to you?

Oh yes, when he's alone in his cell,
he weeps and wails in his letters.

Then he casts out sickly words of
love and promises eternal faithfulness.

But that is reserved for his letters.
Divorce him!

That is your only chance
of finding happiness.

My happiness...
I can't break with him.

So you mean it's love that prevents
you from leaving him?

That's beyond understanding.

Think, Ren?e!
Your husband is not a human being.

He is still my husband! I mean
to follow him as far as I can.

If your intention was to separate us,
it was an error to put him in prison.

I shall write to him and take every
opportunity to visit him.

As long as he is imprisoned, I am
the only person he has in the world.

I get the impression that you too,
deep down--

--want to have Alphonse
like a bird in a cage.

When he is deprived of his freedom,
you needn't feel any jealousy.

Then it's his turn to be jealous.

Didn't he write an awful letter when
he thought you'd been unfaithful?

You and I have the same interest
in keeping him locked up.

It's not true.

You want him released, although you
know he will cause you suffering.

Do you enjoy suffering so much?

There's no worse suffering
than I'm going through at present.

If he is released,
will you be glad then? Happy?

- I can't dream of a greater happiness!
- What kind of happiness?

The happiness of being abandoned
by my husband night after night...

...of lying curled up in bed
at La Coste shivering with cold--

--and seeing in my mind's eye
Alphonse in a warm room somewhere--

--holding a flaming brand to the
naked back of a bound woman.

The happiness of knowing that
bloody scandals are spreading out--

--like the scarlet train
of a coronation robe...

...of walking through the village as
the chatelaine, with downcast eyes.

The happiness of poverty, dishonour,
is due to me if Alphonse is released.

You're lying, lying! You still
keep secrets from me, I know!

My hired investigator saw you at
La Coste at Christmas four years ago!

You've forgotten it, of course. Or
you can't keep the occasions apart.

Four years ago Alphonse
had managed to escape from prison--

--and secretly returned to La Coste.
It was a severe winter--

--and I had to pawn the family silver
to pay for firewood.

- It was hardly a Christmas at all.
- Not what you were engaged in, no!

Despite your poverty you could afford
to hire five young girls as ''maids''--

--and a young man as a ''secretary''.
My investigator hid on a balcony--

--and saw through the window your
peculiar way of celebrating Christmas.

The firelight was bright enough to
illuminate the bare treetrunks outside.

- Say no more!
- Don't interrupt!

Alphonse wore a black velvet cape,
his bare chest showed underneath.

The five girls ran naked to and fro
to avoid his whip, begging for mercy.

You hung from a ceiling beam, your
hands tied together, naked as well.

You were half-unconscious from pain,
drops of blood shone in the firelight.

The Marquis ordered the young man
the cleanse the Marquise's body.

The youth stood on a chair and
took hold of your hanging body...

And then he licked you... And it
wasn't only blood he licked...

Ren?e... there's no point getting
you to show your scars.

Your pallor tells me everything
that needs to be said.

- It was the only time. I was forced.
- Can Alphonse turn you into a dog?

A worm?
Where is your womanly pride?

I didn't bring you up for that. You
are poisoned by Alphonse's lechery.

At the depths of shame and
dishonour, there's no sympathy.

A woman who has resolved to live in
fidelity is prepared to take any step.

She will trample on both society's
laws and her own reputation.

- All women who love rogues say so.
- Alphonse is no rogue.

He's a threshold between me and
the impossible. Between me and God.

- Your embellishing descriptions!
- You need metaphors to describe him.

He's a dove, not a lion. He's a
white flower, not a poisonous plant.

That Christmas I realized that
understanding and protecting don't suffice.

I had to rid myself of the illusion
that I was the most decent of wives.

The arrogance that is yoked to decency
vanished on that dreadful night.

You mean you became
his accomplice?

Yes, I became the accomplice
of a dove, of a white flower.

The unruly wild beast called woman

--that hers had been none other
than voracious decency...

- You are still a wild beast like that.
- No one has said such things to me!

You shall hear it often! With your
teeth, you've torn Alphonse to shreds.

I'm the one who has been torn to
shreds by that monster's fangs.

He has nothing resembling fangs.
He has a knife, a whip and a rope:

oldfashioned instruments of torture
and human inventions.

But you've had fangs from the start.
Your white breasts are fangs.

Your thighs, which haven't lost
their suppleness and lustre, are fangs.

Your body is clad in armour,
glittering with the thorns of hypocrisy.

- My breasts bore and nurtured you!
- My breasts are not like yours...

..moulded in the shape of hypocrisy to
tally with accepted rules of morality.

No doubt my father loved them, since
you both put store by conventions.

I forbid you to denigrate your father!

You complied
with the rules even in bed.

Even your whispered pillowtalk
expressed a shared admiration--

--for conventional morality. You two
were a ready-made key and keyhole.

If the key was inserted in the lock
the door of happiness always opened.

You talked about keys and keyholes
that didn't fit together, and laughed.

No one wants to be a rusty key
or a keyhole that whines with pain!

Your breasts and thighs clinged
like leeches to social conventions.

You slept with morality and banality
and moaned with pleasure.

That's monstrous! Three times a day
you sated yourselves with contempt--

--for those who flouted etiquette,
just as you ate three meals.

If you turned the key and opened
the door, the bedroom was there...

...the drawingroom there, the bathroom
over there, and the kitchen...

You strolled around as you pleased,
discussing honour and reputation.

Not even in your wildest dreams
did you imagine--

--what it would be like
to unlock the wonderful door--

--that opened on a sky full of stars.

We didn't try to open
the gates of hell either.

Hatred of what one cannot imagine
is spreading in the world.

It is a kind of hammock in which
people enjoy their afternoon nap.

But soon enough you have acquired
brass breasts and a stomach of brass.

They shine when you polish them.

You and your kind call a rose
beautiful and a snake nasty.

You don't know that they are friends
and exchange guises in the night.

The snake turns red
and the rose gets gleaming scales.

A roe deer you think is pretty,
a lion is frightening.

You have no idea how their blood
flows when they make love.

You know nothing of the nights when
sanctity and shame switch places--

--and therefore you
want to exterminate such nights--

--after you have ridiculed them
with your brains of brass.

So the sweet roe, the ugly toad, the
frightening lion och the cunning fox--

--are one and the same and merge
together in thunderstorms at night?

What's so remarkable about that?

Women used to be burnt
at the stake for such ideas.

You have merely opened the door
to that sky full of stars--

--and stumbled out through it.

People divide everyone
into compartments--

--just as they lay handkerchiefs
and gloves in different drawers--

--or say that roe deers are pretty
and toads ugly.

You are kept
in the drawer for propriety--

--and Alphonse is consigned
to the drawer for perversity.

But an earthquake may turn
the drawers upside down.

You may land among the depraved,
Alphonse among the well behaved.

One has to watch out for
earthquakes and lock the drawers.

If you could see how repellent you
look, you'd find it hard to decide--

--which drawer to place yourself in.

Dazzled by the de Sade family name,
you gave your daughter to Alphonse--

--but when your house is threatened
by fire, you want to buy her back.

I've already spent all available funds.

You're as pleased to buy
your daughter back--

--as a prostitute to redeem
the wardrobe she has pawned.

You have fantasies
of an enjoyable, happy life.

Without ever exploring
what lies at the end of the world--

--you cover your windows with pink
curtains - and then you die.

You're proud never to have let yourself
be harmed by those you despise--

--but no base of human pride could
be more petty and contemptible.

- You'll die too one day.
- Yes, but not like you.

Of course not. I've no intention
of being burnt at the stake.

I don't intend to die like a genteel
whore with a nest-egg put aside.

Ren?e - I could hit you!

Do that! But what will you do, if I
curl up with pleasure at being hit?

- Your face, when you say that...
- What about my face?

You've become
so like Alphonse that it scares me.

What was it that Madame de Saint-
Fond said? ''Alphonse is myself!''

''Alphonse is myself!''

''Alphonse is myself!''


Nine months after the outbreak
of the French Revolution

- Ren?e?
- Yes?

- Aren't you tired of it?
- No.

For twelve years I've seen you
visiting Alphonse in prison.

Never have I seen you tired of it.
You had hardly returned from a visit--

--when you started preparing for the
next, wondering what to bring him.

That's true. I didn't want my
husband to think I had aged.

If he saw me often enough, I thought
he wouldn't notice I was growing old.

But any day now, all the criminals
and lunatics will be let out.

The justice I always believed in
was eliminated--

--when the National Assembly
declared all royal arrests to be invalid.

Since that day, you've stopped
visiting Alphonse.

There's no need any more.
Sooner or later, he'll come home.

That's true.
At the same time, you've changed.

I've become old and tired too.

When the whole society is changing,
people can't avoid changing as well.

Charlotte didn't come to the door.
Is she joining the rest of the mob?


I'm here to say farewell. Or rather,
to ask you to come with us, Mother.

Without the slightest warning?
Where are you planning to go?

- To Venice, with my husband.
- Venice...

No, sister. This has nothing to do
with the Venice you remember.

My husband has bought a palace
and decided we should move there.

Why should you leave your beautiful
home and your position at court?

My husband says it is already
dangerous to fraternize with the court.

The Comte de Mirabeau has urged
the King to go into exile--

--but others are against it. My husband
also thinks it would be wise.

- And yet the King remains?
- He always was a great vacillator.

As long as the King remains,
I shall stay in Paris.

Have you become such a royalist,
Mother? Joking apart--

--things look peaceful on the surface,
but we don't know what may happen.

The best thing is to remain calm
and look both left and right.

I think I shall be able to live here
in peace and quiet.

However indiscriminately the mob acts,
they won't attack an old woman.

These days, the wisest course
is not to take sides.

Keep that up, and you may end up
like the Comtesse de Saint-Fond.

A poor comparison. Do you think
I can die such an honourable death?

Madame de Saint-Fond was said
to have tired of Paris--

--and gone to Marseilles where, at
night, she dressed up as prostitute--

--and sold herself to the sailors
she accosted in the street.

She spent her days in her villa,
caressing her cheeks with her earnings.

She had a jeweller set precious
stones in the coins.

She planned to have a dress sewn
from them, and show it off in Paris.

She would have had to earn a
fortune to cover enough of that body.

She had aged considerably,
you know.

One evening a riot broke out.

Since she was standing on a dark
street corner in her harlot's guise--

--she was dragged along with the mob
and sang that song with the others...

Ta-ta-ta-ta! The refrain is ''Hang the
aristocrats from the lamp-posts!''

She sang ''Hang the aristocrats!''
at the top of her voice.

But the rioters were attacked by
guards and fell like dominoes--

--and Madame de Saint-Fond
was trampled to death.

When morning came, the crowd found
her body and placed it on a shutter.

They carried it round the streets and
mourned her as a sublime victim.

Impromptu poets wrote ballads
about the ''pathetic harlot''--

--that everyone sang.
No one knew who she was.

In the morning light her body
looked like a slaughtered hen.

It took on the same colours
as the tricolore:

the red blood, the white flesh
and all the bruises.

But the morning sun shone mercilessly
through the thick layer of powder--

--and revealed her withered skin.
People were dismayed--

--when they saw that she
had metamorphosed into an old hag.

But it didn't detract
from the tribute given to her.

Deprived of her feathers,
the wrinkled thighs laid bare--

--her corpse continued its triumphal
procession through the city.

That, as you know, was the
beginning of the Revolution.

Now you're off to the Mediterranean,
the sea of old age and death.

What an unpleasant way to put it!
We're going there to stay alive.

You've always been busy living. But
other people have kept you alive.

I agree that Venice today has little in
common with your Venice of the past.

You're escaping quite simply
by not keeping any memories.

So you think
I should hold on to memories?

When reminiscences become necessary,
I shall show them with pleasure.

It's just that I don't let myself
be weighed down by them.

Aren't you the one
without memories?

All your life, you'll stand with your
face turned towards a white wall.

One can discern traces of congealed
blood and drops resembling tears...

- But otherwise it is simply a wall.
- That's true.

I've always turned my face towards
the motionless sediment.

My memories are insects in amber--

--not like yours, shadows
fluttering over the water.

You're right about one thing: my
memories have always been a burden.

Yes, and a source of jealousy. In my
face you can read two memories--

--and you hate me for them -
Venice and happiness.

- I've never wished for them.
- You won't admit defeat, will you?

When I was young, I thought
I wished for those same recollections.

But what remained in my memory,
the insects that stuck in my amber--

--was neither Venice nor happiness
but something frightening...

Something that cannot
be expressed in words--

--something I neither wished for
nor even dreamed of in my youth.

When something happens that you
think is the last thing you wanted--

--it often proves to be what has
unconsciously been your supreme desire

Only that deserves to be a memory--

--only that can be enclosed in amber.

That alone is the kernel that can
ripen into the fruit of memory--

--of which you never tire, no matter
how many times you taste it.

That letter! That letter!

When I read the letter from Alphonse
a few days ago, I was really touched.

When freedom is near, he forgives
everything, even what I did to him.

Among the revolutionaries, there
are several he has known in prison.

He says that if ever
I get in difficulties--

--he'll speak to his friends.
That's quite a reversal of fortunes!

You choose not to trust me then?
I don't ask you to decide today--

--but my husband and I leave
the day after tomorrow.

It's kind of you, but old people
like to think things over.

You must give me a bit more time
to make up my mind.

For the time being
it's good-bye then.

Farewell, Mother.

- Farewell, sister.
- Farewell, Anne.

- Give my regards to the Comte.
- Thank you, I shall.

- Charlotte!
- Yes, Madame.

There hasn't been a death in our
family. Why are you dressed in black?

Ah, you want to honour Madame
de Saint-Fond, your former employer.

I respect that fine thought.

But why the sudden loyalty to a lady
you disliked so much that you left her?

- Oh, Madame...
- That's no reply! Don't be so silly!

It's nine months
since the fall of the Bastille.

The more unsettled conditions are,
the more impudent you become.

Since the mob marched on Versailles
you've become positively rude.

You've been in our home for
more than twenty years--

--and acquired a taste for luxury
by looking at us.

You've managed to save
a little money...

Surely you can't join the mob that
jostles and clamours in the streets?

Like Mme de Saint-Fond, you too,
pretending to be one of the people--

--would be a hypocrite and die...

You identify with her, of course,
and mourn the death of an impostor!

Yes, Madame! I mourn her death.

In that case, wear mourning garb
or whatever you like.

- Did you like Mme de Saint-Fond?
- Yes, Madame.

- More than your present mistress?
- Yes, Madame.

One certainly never heard
such answers before the Revolution!

People have become ever more

Madame de Montreuil.

My goodness! Isn't it the Baronne
de Simiane? An unexpected visit.

- It really has been a long time.
- What brings you here?

- I came at Ren?e's invitation.
- Thank you for taking the trouble.

- I'm glad you've come to a decision.
- What decision?

I asked Madame de Simiane
for a favour.

I've been granted admission
to the Baronne's convent.

- Are you going to become a nun?
- What help did Ren?e ask you for?

Ren?e has visited me several times.

I promised we would look after her
if she decided to enter a convent.

When you stopped visiting Alphonse
- was that when you decided?

The plans I have harboured for years
have taken on a more definite shape.

Just when Alphonse is about
to be freed?

Every time I visited him, I decided
that the next time would be the last.

But when that the came,
my resolution came to nothing...

You are a small fish that caught
on the line of the Fisher of Men.

However often you've spat out the
hook, you've known, deep down--

--that one day you would be caught.
You have longed for the moment--

--when you'd lie wriggling in the
bright evening light from God's eye--

--and your scales would glitter
with the water of this worldly life.

Oh, Ren?e, God's countless eye--

--send us myriads of scouts, who--

--with infinitely greater thoroughness
than the royal security forces--

--search our souls, and then,
with immeasurable patience--

--wait until they fasten
in the nets of their own accord.

They take in their hands the souls
they have so skilfully captured--

--and take them to a prison of light.

I'm ashamed to say it,
but it is only now that I'm old--

--that I understand at least
something of God's will.

I have always played the role
of a pious woman.

My conviction that I possessed
all virtues made me narrowminded.

I blush to think back
on that time.

That's right - an autumn day
eighteen years ago--

--here in his room--

--I heard Madame de Saint-Fond
talking about the Marquis de Sade.

Since then eighteen long years
have passed.

I remember how you, Madame de
Montreuil, came rushing in--

--more beautiful than ever,
despite all you had gone through.

You, Ren?e, returned that same day
to live with your mother.

You looked so young and pure of
heart, as if transfigured with sorrow.

It's like yesterday.

I wonder if time has not slipped
through this room with trailing skirts--

--although our ears have not detected
the rustling of silk...

Your views are no doubt valuable--

--but now I hope Ren?e will also
listen to a mother's words.

I think Ren?e should fulfil
her duties in this mundane world--

--before entering a convent.
There is no reason to hurry.

- Madame de Montreuil!
- Will you let me finish speaking?

Alphonse will soon be released
from prison. Don't you think--

--that you ought to live with him
until death do you part?

For eighteen years I've begged you
to leave him--

--but you've always said
that you will never do so.

Why is the situation reversed? I'm
not trying to influence you any more.

If you want to go on living with
Alphonse, I have no objections.

What is it that makes you want
to be a nun?

In all honesty, I still consider
him an incorrigible scoundrel.

But now criminals, lunatics and
paupers are the ones in power.

Alphonse belongs to
all these categories.

- He may become the family's saviour.
- So you're planning to use him?

Indeed! And you must help me. In
the labour pains of the Revolution--

--Alphonse's shameless behaviour
may well be applauded.

Society's condemnation of his acts
may be seen as proof of his integrity.

An honourable person wouldn't solicit
help from one she has persecuted.

Ren?e, you've seen the first glimmer
of holy light in Alphonse--

--and as a nun you can bring him
closer to the source of enlightrnment.

Soon he'll follow his wife's example
and let the sacred light envelop him.

But madame de simiane....
What shall I say?

I think it was a different kind of
light from that you refer to.

It was as if it came from
another source...

There's only one
source of the holy light. if the light had been refracted
and came from another direction...

Another direction?

I'm not sure, but I became aware
that it came from another direction--

--when I read this frightful novel
Alphonse wrote in prison--

--called Justine.

It's a novel about two sisters,
Juliette, the elder, and Justine.

They lose their parents
and are cast out into the world.

Justine who seeks to defend her
virtue incurs all possible misfortunes--

--while the elder sister who has
indulged in vice flourishes.

However, it is not Juliette who is
struck by God's wrath, but Justine--

--who ends her days in misery. She is
constantly humiliated and tortured.

Her toes are amputated
and her teeth pulled out--

--she is branded, flogged and robbed.

When she is about to be executed,
her sister turns up and saves her.

But her happiness does not last long:
she has an accident and dies.

Alphonse toiled night and day
with this novel.

What made him do it?

Don't you think it is spiritual treason
to write such a disgusting story?

Undoubtedly. Contaminating one's
own mind and others' is indefensible.

While Alphonse sat in his prison
cell, brooding and writing--

--he shut me up in his novel.

We on the outside were also
locked up in that prison.

When I read his novel I realized
what he was doing in prison.

The mob stormed the Bastille, but
he tore down the walls from within--

--and remained in prison
of his own free will.

He wanted to create
an imperishable cathedral of vice.

Instead of committing evil deeds,
he wanted to develop a code of evil.

Not so much actions as principles.

Not so much nocturnal pleasure
as a single, everlasting night.

Not so much slaves of the whip
as the rule of the whip.

Obsessed with destruction,
he created something instead.

Something inexplicable,
congenital in him--

--that produced
transparent forms of evil.

The world we are living in now is
a creation of the Marquis de Sade.

His heart and his body were
what I wanted to follow!

I believed we'd never part.

Suddenly, his hands turned to iron
and knocked me down.

He no longer has a heart.

A mind that can think up and write
something like that is not human.

How radiant he looks,
standing there outside my prison!

He is the freest human being
in the world.

He stretches out his arms to the
end of time, the end of the world.

He piles evil on evil,
and mounts the crest of evil.

Soon he will touch eternity.

Alphonse has built
a back stairway to salvation.

God will destroy that back stairway.

No - perhaps God gave him
the task of building it.

I plan to spend the remainder of
my life asking God that question.

So you've made up your mind.

Yes, I've made up my mind.

Even if Alphonse were
on his way here--

--and returned home as the free man
you've waited eighteen years for?

It wouldn't alter my decision.

Alphonse has spun a thread of light
from evil--

--created something sacred from the
corruption he has gathered round him.

His armour gleams faintly with the
light he spreads across the world.

The pattern on the armour, beaten
in a metal that is rusty from blood--

--represents not garlands of flowers
but whips.

Instead of a shield
he carries a branding-iron--

--that reflects the reddened skin
of the women he has branded.

Human anguish...

...human suffering...

...human lamentation rise--

--like horns on his silver helmet,
reaching for the sky.

He presses a sword sated with blood
to his lips--

--and swears the solemn oath.

His fair hair frames his pale face
like a halo--

--and his cuirass shines like a mirror,
clouded by the sighs of the dying.

His hands touch people's heads--

--and then even the most despised,
the most rejected take courage--

--and follow him to the battlefield
in the first light of dawn.

His chest surges when he sees
the bloody slaughter--

--the banquet attended
by millions of corpses--

--the most silent of feasts.

His white horse, spattered with
blood, braces its breast--

--like the prow of a ship,
and stretches out to a morning sky--

--in which the flashes of lightning
cross one another.

At the same moment,
the sky is rent--

--and a cascade of light plunges

--a holy light that blinds
all who behold it.

And Alphonse, perhaps,
is the very essence of that light.

The Marquis de Sade is at the door.
Shall I show him in?

- Shall I show him in?
- How does the Marquis look?

- He's waiting. Shall I show him in?
- I'm asking you how he looks.

He's so changed that I hardly
recognized him.

His black coat is patched
at the elbows.

His shirtcollar is so dirty
that I took him for a beggar.

And he's become so plump!
His face is puffy and deathly pale.

His clothes are too tight, I even
wonder if he'll get through the door.

His gaze shifts as if in fright,
his chin trembles slightly--

--and when he talks you see that
only a few yellow teeth are left.

But he said his name with dignity
''Have you forgotten me?'' he asked.

And then, stressing each syllable:
''I'm Donatien-Alphonse-Fran?ois...''

- ''...Marquis de Sade.''
- Tell him to go away.

And say this: ''The Marquise
wishes never to see him again.''