backgrounnd: Marquis comes from the fertile mind of the late Belgian director, writer, novelist and theatrical director Roland Topor. Topor also co-wrote and designed the great French animated sf film Fantastic Planet (1973) and wrote the novel that became the basis of Roman Polanski’s marvellously paranoid The Tenant (1976). Topor can also be seen playing Renfield in Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979).
Marquis could be described as a crossbreed between Quills (2000) and Meet the Feebles (1990). It is a re-enactment – albeit a loose one – of the life of the Marquis de Sade and the French Revolution – all conducted by puppets, puppets that are decidedly less than Disney or Henson-like. The fact that one of the central characters in the film is the Marquis’s talking penis should give one an idea of where the film is centred.
A dog, the Marquis, has been imprisoned in The Bastille for his notoriously pornographic writings. He has conversations with Colin, his penis, who dislikes the Marquis’ writings. The rooster governor Gaetan de Preaubois discovers that the cow Justine is pregnant with the king’s child. To save the king embarrassment, de Preaubois and the Dom Pimpero conspire to have Justine placed in the Marquis’s cell where they can then claim the notoriously depraved libertine forced himself upon her. Instead, Justine is moved by the Marquis’s prose and the two fall for one another. Revolutionaries want to free the Marquis’s neighbour, the police chief Lupino who imprisoned the Marquis, and the Marquis agrees to give into the rat guard Ambert’s desire to be buggared for the good of the revolution. However, the Marquis finds difficulty persuading Colin to perform the task. At the same time, Dom Pimpero has discovered that he can make money by selling the Marquis’s pornographic writings without his knowledge, but has difficulty getting his hands on new material.