Directed by Amy Grappell
2010, 20 minutes
Purchase: $140 | Rental: $75
Quadrangle is a fascinating documentary about two 'traditional' couples that swapped partners and lived in a group marriage in the early 1970s. Coming out of the era of free love, and struggling with the monotony of marriage and suburban life, the filmmaker's parents, Deanna and Paul, began swapping partners with another middle class married couple. This four-way affair became a kind of domestic living experiment when the two couples moved into one home, along with their children.
While their individual marriages were failing, they found that together they were happy and thought they had discovered an alternative to divorce - a brave new world that would pave the way for how couples would live in the future. Instead it unraveled. Both couples divorced and married their foursome partners, but they could never truly separate because they were bound by the children they shared.
This film examines the story of the group marriage as told by Deanna and Paul in the present. They are forty years older and estranged, looking back in separate interviews that play simultaneously. A simulated conversation takes place as they recount their stories. Paul's archival photos of the group, woven throughout, create a visual link between the story from the past and the characters in the present. Certain themes emerge: How do we grapple with marriage, monogamy, and desire? What happens when you challenge the boundaries of social convention? And what, if anything, did we learn from all that sixties-inspired experimentation?
Subjects & Collections
Human Sexuality Sociology Psychology & Psychiatry American Studies Family Relations 2011 Directed by Women
Festivals & Awards* Winner, Best Documentary Short, SXSW Film Festival, 2010
* Winner, Honorable Mention Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival, 2010
* Official Selection, New Directors / New Films, 2010
* Official Selection, Hot Docs, 2010
* Official Selection, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, 2007
Reviews"A short and jewel-like work of cinema." - Austin Chronicle
"Quadrangle is Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice in real time... You won’t take your eyes off the screen. In 20 minutes [editor] Raff and [filmmaker] Grappell assemble the essence of four fragmented lives with intelligence and objectivity." – The Independent
“ Highly recommended . A very strong film that delivers a compelling look at matrimonial discord and experimental relationships. Although it deals with sexual themes and includes references to drug use, the film is nevertheless appropriate for a wide audience and would be a welcome addition to both public and academic library collections. Libraries owning Paul Mazursky’s Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969) will certainly want to own this film.” - Educational Media Reviews Online
“Suitable for college courses in cultural anthropology, anthropology of sexuality, anthropology of family/marriage, and American studies, as well as general audiences…. Should provoke some lively discussion on these subjects.” – Anthropology Review Database
" An interesting extended family portrait, this is recommended " . - Video Librarian
" Well done, short and interesting to watch" - David S. Hall, Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality