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Quintet (film)

Quintet is an post-apocalyptic science fiction film by Robert Altman produced in 1979. It features among others Paul Newman, Bibi Andersson and Vittorio Gassman.


Warning: Spoilers follow

The story takes place in a future where the world is covered by a new ice age. The seal hunter Essex (played by Paul Newman) and his wife arrive at a city where some survivors of the disaster live among technological artifacts in a primitive way. All people in the city have lost hope of surviving and the ice continuously threatens to destroy the city.

When visiting a relative, Essex's wife is killed by a bomb. When he tries to uncover the reason why the entire family and his wife was killed, he learns that in their despair the survivors are playing a game of life and death called Quintet. Being alive is the only reward in this game, and none of the people involved can quite explain why they keep playing it.

The game works this way: there is a list of names created by a referee, who may be consulted if the players are not sure of the rules. Some of the players will be allies, others will be enemies, which must be killed - else they will kill you. Each player have a list of names of the people involved arranged in a certain order, which determines the friend/enemy scheme. When someone is killed, the person who was previously your ally will perhaps be a killer, so you have to learn who is still alive at any moment.