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Querelle (1982)

The French naval ship, Le Vengeur, based out of Marseille, has just docked in Brest for an extended stay. The ship's captain, Lieutenant Seblon, can see the passion in his men, which can as... See full summary »


Jean Genet (novel), Rainer Werner Fassbinder (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
4 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Brad Davis ... Querelle
Franco Nero ... Lieutenant Seblon
Jeanne Moreau ... Lysiane
Laurent Malet ... Roger Bataille
Hanno Pöschl Hanno Pöschl ... Robert / Gil
Günther Kaufmann ... Nono
Burkhard Driest ... Mario
Roger Fritz Roger Fritz ... Marcellin
Dieter Schidor Dieter Schidor ... Vic Rivette
Natja Brunckhorst ... Paulette (as Nadja Brunkhorst)
Robert van Ackeren ... Betrunkener Legionär (as Robert v. Ackeren)
Werner Asam ... Arbeiter
Isolde Barth ... Mädchen
Axel Bauer Axel Bauer ... Arbeiter
Neil Bell Neil Bell ... Theo


The French naval ship, Le Vengeur, based out of Marseille, has just docked in Brest for an extended stay. The ship's captain, Lieutenant Seblon, can see the passion in his men, which can as easily manifest itself in violence as it can in sex. Seblon has in part become an officer to remain at arms length from his men, one of them, Querelle, with who he is secretly in love. Querelle goes to La Feria, a bar and makeshift whorehouse owned and operated by husband and wife Nono and Lysiane, one of the whores. La Feria is infamous and notorious as anyone wanting sex with Lysiane must first roll the dice with Nono, Nono winning meaning that he will get to sodomize the loser instead. At La Feria, Querelle is surprised to see his brother, Robert, who is Lysiane's current on-going sexual partner, and who did not have to go through the roll of the dice with Nono is his special position with Lysiane. That passion in Querelle extends to his brother, the two who share more than just a family ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It will take you into a surreal world of passion and sexuality, further than most would dare to go. [Video Australia]




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Official Sites:

Official site


West Germany | France



Release Date:

8 September 1982 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Querelle See more »

Filming Locations:

Berlin, Germany See more »


Box Office


DEM4,400,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby (Dolby stereo)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


According to "Genet: A Biography" (1993) by Edmund White, the film was originally going to be directed by Werner Schroeter but finance couldn't be raised with him as director. Both Sam Peckinpah and John Schlesinger were considered to direct before in the end German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder was hired to helm the film. See more »


[first lines]
Lieutenant Seblon: The thought of murder often evokes thoughts of the sea and of sailors. What naturally follows thoughts of the sea and murder is the thought of love or sexuality.
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Featured in The Wizard of Babylon (1982) See more »


The Cross-Road
Composed By [Musique Composée Par] David Ambach, Peer Raben
Directed By [Dirigée Par], Orchestrated By [Orchestrée Par] Peer Raben
(P) Schlicht Musikverlage, 1982 RCA/Ciné Music
© Schlicht Musikverlage
Published and Licensed by Musikverlage Hans Wewerka
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Open minded, sexual, vibrant and a little confused
16 July 2012 | by Rodrigo_AmaroSee all my reviews

I don't think I quite understood what "Querelle" was about but the good aspect of it is that you at each view you get new things, and it grows on you. Far from being a masterpiece like "Ali: Fear Eats the Soul" or "The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant", but this is a very good project directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, his last and the one he got some of the heaviest criticism of his career. In a way, the most tragical of all of his works after being forced to cut part of it to get a release in America, probably the first time he ever had to back down and cut something he directed.

Based on author Jean Genet's 1947 novel Querelle de Brest, the movie revolves about Querelle, an Belgian sailor (Brad Davis) who plays with danger with his criminal affairs selling opium and his involvement with male and female, using of his good looks to get what he wants. To him (and to everyone around him) everything's a game in which losing sometimes can be useful (the dice game where he deliberately loses in order to have sex with Nuno, played by Gunther Kauffman). Querelle's a man with many love affairs and relations, center of attention of his own brother (Hanno Pöschl), and their strange "brotherhood", love/hate kind of thing; Nuno, his wife (Jeanne Moreau) owner of a decadent bar where most of the film takes place, and he's treasured from distance by his captain (Franco Nero). The other half of the film explores what can be called of real love between Querelle and a murderer (who is played by the same actor who plays the brother).

The movie is very open when it comes to presenting Querelle's involvements with both genders, specially his sexual scenes with another men, very bold at the time. If the story gets too much on a second plan, since the ideas are somewhat vague, foggy, the high point of enjoyment of the film is seeing Querelle getting well with his mates. For the most part, the movie isn't so exciting and is very confusing with its imposition of ideas one on top of another. What's the story in deeper terms? A man discovering his sexuality, trying new things or he's trying to find real love? Is he testing his moves as a player or he's just a man trying to survive using of his talents? Fassbinder intrigues us more with the whole concept of man being a product of his environment, adapting to his (and others) needs and what he makes here (don't know if the same happen in the book) is a strange fantasy world where everyone is bisexual or have more inclination towards another man, enjoying endless sunsets created on fake sets, surrounded by large columns resembling phallic elements. The script is more like a literary work than a cinematic experience, with several cards expressing Querelle's inner thoughts or the captain's romantic narration watching the love of his life, working all sweaty.

Rainer had his reasons and perhaps we'll never know what motivated him making this film in the way he did, but the artist is deeply immersed in this work, putting elements of his life, his love and all (including a dedication to El-Hedi Ben Salem, one of his partners, who died that year). A little bit butchered, panned by critics and part of the public, a distressing experience to the director who wasn't much in his best moment in life but with career on the top, but sadly he died and this was his last film. Not much of a great swan song but very admirable in several ways. The risk taken by Brad Davis was incredible and unfortunately he paid the price for it, barely appearing on well-known films or great projects. But what a performance! He's really good, very desirable and makes the character be what he needs to be. How many times you've seen a film where it is sold to us someone who is so beautiful and attracts everything and everyone but when you look at, it doesn't cause such effect? Davis was all that.

Here's a tale about immorality, manipulation, the right of the strongest to conquer anything, ultimately about the individuals who kill the things he love. Men, essentially. 7/10

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