Director(s): Roman Polanski
Country: USA, UK, France
IMDB Rating: 7.2
Paulina Escobar is the housewife to a prominent lawyer in an unnamed third World country. One day a storm forces her husband to ride home with a neighbor. That chance encounter brings up demons from her past, as she is convinced that the neighbor (Dr. Miranda) was part of the old fascist regime that tortured and raped her, while blindfolded. Paulina takes him captive to determine the truth. Paulina is torn between her psychological repressions and somber memory, Gerardo is torn between his wife and the law, and Dr. Miranda is forced to endure captivity while husband and wife seek out the uncertain truth about the clouded past.
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(13 May 2013)
This review is from: Death and the Maiden (DVD) This DVD came in perfect condition from the seller. What a classic. Kingsly and Weaver take you through hell and back. Great! A MUST WATCH and OWN! I'm glad its part of my DVD collection.
moviesleuth2 (12 May 2013)
We hear about it all the time; people have been harmed in the mostunspeakable ways, causing pain that most of us cannot begin to evenimagine. If this happened to you, what would you do if the person whohurt you walked into your house? This kind of moral quagmire has beenapproached before in films. Many times, in fact. The torture angle isnew though. Unfortunately, that's all that's new about this story.But this is the situation that one woman, Paulina Escobar (SigourneyWeaver), an ex-activist who was horrifically tortured in order to giveup the name of a fellow activist (who later became her husband), findsherself in, when a man (Ben Kingsley) is invited into their home afterhelping her husband (Stuart Wilson). She is convinced that this man,Dr. Miranda, is the one who brutalized her. He denies it, of course.And her husband, now a high-powered lawyer, is caught in the middle.This film could have gone in two opposite directions: a high-powered,claustrophobic thriller or a leadened message movie. Fortunately, it'snot the latter (no one is going to mistake this movie for a UNICEFinfomercial), but sadly, it's not the former either. It's somewhere inthe middle. There are moments of where it works, but overall it'spretty boring.Part of the reason is that the most important part is miscast.Sigourney Weaver is a good actress, but she's not right for this role.She has moments of effectiveness (Weaver is good at being vulnerable),but when she tries to act menacing, she's awful. Ben Kingsley isterrific, though, as the may-or-may not be torturer. He keeps us on ourtoes, and we never know whether or not he's innocent. Noted characteractor Stuart Wilson is actually able to keep up with the Oscar-winnerand Oscar-nominee.The problem isn't necessarily with Roman Polanski's approach. "Deathand the Maiden" is heavy on the atmosphere, although it could have usedsome more claustrophobia to increase the tension. The problem is thatthe script, based on the play, is rather bland. There's nothing thatreally draws us into the story, and it doesn't take any risks. Thuswhat could have been a powerful and provocative drama or thriller (takeyour pick) becomes inert.It's not a total waste; the film effectively keeps us guessing who'stelling the truth. But the suspense isn't there, even though it hasplenty of opportunity to build. However, the ending of the film ishorrible. What happens not only doesn't make sense, it's actually morethan slightly reprehensible.This isn't a bad film, just a wasted opportunity.
(09 May 2013)
This review is from: Death and the Maiden (DVD) A serious movie,not one for light entertainment at a dinner party. But a very rewarding experience. If you like to pour yourself a good glass of red wine and submerge yourself into movies like "Three colours red" or even "Insomnia"(Hollywood version not Swedish)then give this one a try. All the best, Steve.
(09 May 2013)
This review is from: Death and the Maiden (DVD) Along with Gorillas in the Mist, this has to be one of the best movies S. Weaver has ever made. It is one of those Deja Vous movies where you wonder if what happened to her in Argentina could yet happen to you in this country (under the Patriot Act??). Don't blame 'er a bit for being furious.
Mort-31 (01 May 2013)
Rarely does a film with only three actors create such unbearable tension andcover political aspects too. Also, the film has great actors: Ben Kingsleygives the impression that he himself didn't know whether his character wasguilty or not; Stuart Wilson is a typical confused lawyer-husband; andSigourney Weaver probably gives her best performance Â of course, she's gota good role.I enjoy stories, where people get in situations so terrible and unnaturalthat they are unable to see their extent. They cannot think clearly and sotheir thinking structure changes and they begin to take completely absurdthings into consideration. Every person reacts a little differently to thesituation. I love this, and that's why I give this movie the best rating. Icouldn't find any flaws in the movie, actually.
Omid Jahanian (01 May 2013)
The movie script of "Death and the Maiden" is originated from ascreenplay with the same name by Ariel Dorfman from Chile. This scripthas a great structure. The wife is listening to the radio while cookingthe dinner. The news on the radio tells about foundation of a committeefor investigation about tortures and crimes of the previousdictatorship naming someone as the head of this committee. The unusualattention of the wife leads the movie viewers to suppose a relationbetween the wife and those phenomena. The electricity went off. Thefear of the wife might be because of hearing the thunderstorm orremembering past horrors. The wife ran quickly to a battery radio tocontinue listening to the news. Here, the viewer became sure about theimportance of the news. The nervous attitude of the wife, going underthe rain, smoking a cigarette and taking a gun by seeing a comingvehicle, either show this. Then, something else happens. The husbandintroduces himself to the vehicle driver - the doctor- and the viewersfigure out that he is the head of the committee. This causes theviewers to forget their previous conclusions and think that the mainreason of the wife's reactions is hearing her husband's name. Whilethinking about this, the dialogs between the couple return the viewersback to the first conclusion. The movie keeps the viewers in areciprocating situation, which continues along the story. The husbandthinks he knows everything about his wife's prison but figures out itwas not. The wife gains new information about a sexual relation betweenhis husband and another girl during her prison time and the viewers usnot sure about the guilt of the doctor. This uncertainty is smartlyplaced in the script. In the other side, the battery radio used to showthe importance of the news in the beginning of the film, was utilizedagain in the middle to prove the crime of the doctor without anyencounter to went off electricity and plays the "Death and the Maiden"piece to show the title of the film.
(30 April 2013)
This film is an utter masterpiece! Let's start with the plot- written by, and adapted from his own play by, Ariel Dorfman, the screenplay is wrought with twists and guilt and fear in almost every breath. Some find it a bit "stagy" but i couldn't see any of it! The direction- is wonderfully full of suspence, yet can be quite tender at times. Polanski knows his subject, knows what he's doing. The music- yes- the music! Written by Wojciech Kilar, who scored "Bram Stoker's Dracula", the music is very simple, yet extremely effective, and often moving. And finally- the acting- Stuart Wilson is very believable as Gerardo, and pulls off the feelings of guilt and anger very well. Ben Kingsley is startlingly acute in his performance as Miranda. He never allows any bias to enter his performance, so you are left guessing to the very end. And, of course, Sigourney Weaver. Who is simply AMAZING!! I knew she was a great actress, but she surpassed herself in this. The torture she goes through; the brief feelings of doubt, and then the dawning that this IS the man she wants. At least that's what she believes. This performance is so powerfull, so tender, so angry and so painfull, that if this were a bigger, studio film, Weaver would have finally walked off with an acadamy award. But, alas, the big studios cannot bring themselves to make movies that have so many strengths and so much to say. See this film. Learn and be amazed at the human beings it portrays. Do you recognise yourself in one of the characters?
(30 April 2013)
This review is from: Death and the Maiden (DVD) This film is awesome, not only because of the controversy surrounding its director, but the acting is top notch all around. Great film
thesar-2 (29 April 2013)
(Though this doesn't contain all surprises or, ah hem, spoilers, itdoes borderline it. #1 just watch the movie Â it is a near-masterpiece,a near perfect suspense thriller/mystery everyone (of age) should see.#2 then read my review. It's very hard to write about it without givingaway too much.)It was more of a crime that Weaver was neither nominated nor won theOscar for Best Actress in 1994 than the crimes committed against her inthe movie, Death and the Maiden.Okay, that's taking it a bit far; what happened to her character wasunmistakably HORRIBLE, but she still should've won something for herfantastic post-victim performance.And it was a further crime hardly anyone saw this near-masterpiece of asmall/indie film that screams stage play. In fact, when I first sawthis many years ago, aside from being immediately enthralled in thestory and acting of Weaver, my first reaction was this was meant forthe stage Â and this was before I did find out, in fact, it waspreviously a theatre production.What we have here, in one of my all-time favorite movies, is paranoidPaulina (Weaver) living in isolation with her lawyer-husband, Gerardo(Wilson) in a South American now-"supposedly" free country. Gerardo hada flat, was late for dinner and Paulina's p|ssed..but it's not clear upfront on why.Slowly, but absolutely surelyÂ the pieces fall into place, ever sodeliberately on why she's both paranoid and p|ssed. But as bad of alife she makes you believe she hasÂ the past is about to make things alittle worst.Gerardo had a Good Samaritan for his flat tire in the form of Dr.Miranda (Kingsley) and upon the doctor's admiration for the lawyerwho's about to work for the President on anti-torture criminals Â and afew drinks Â Paulina's senses go into overdrive. She is absolutely surethe voice and even smell from the other room where she's "pretending tobe sleeping" that the good ole doc was her captive from awhile back.I really don't want to give too much away, but suffice to say, she waskidnapped prior to the movie started and Pauline believes this strangerwas (one of) her torturer(s). Eventually, she's going to make him provehe did it, or his innocence. One way or another.Literally, I am going to stop here. I've given away only 5% of themovie, and I feel that's too much.This movie, with literally only three actors, plays out in deep mysteryand suspense and you will feel every bit of the pain Weaver wants youto. She is an astonishing actress and proves it here. You would need tobe in a 3-person movie.The other two, Kingsley and Wilson, were also good, but this isWeaver's show. Her and her character's redemption or potential healing.It won't take too much of your time Â it's relatively short, but itwill be worth seeing this wonderful movie and you will see past Ripley(Alien). (Actually, a little too much, at times. Boy, Weaver wanted toget naked for this movieÂ )
Chris (28 April 2013)
Like other Polanski films I've seen, Death and the Maiden does not focus on much in the way of scenery or a change of location. "Repulsion" was much in the same mold as this one.....largely set in a small living space. None of this took away from the incredible tension of the plot and the top-notch acting by Weaver and Kingsley. The story is simple and ferocious, and the deliverance by Sigorney Weaver brings her to a level I never imagined her to be able to reach. If you're a Polanski fan, definitely get this one. It's a great example of repressed emotions and a wonderful study of a completely psychological meltdown. If you're looking for action, changing plots, and a slam-bang ending, look elsewhere.
Miyagis_Sweaty_wifebeater (27 April 2013)
Death and the Maiden (1994) was a tense and atmospheric film based upona play that Roman Polanski has adapted for the big screen. For the mostpart it's a three person play. The main actors were Ben Kingsley andSigorney Weaver. Ms. Weaver stars as a woman who was a politicalactivist during her years when she was a student. A conservativemilitary administration was formed and took control of her country. Thenew government banned all political opposition. They tortured andimprisoned those who didn't tote the party line. She was spied on bythe government and imprisoned. During her captivity she spent days at atime gagged and blindfolded. But one thing caused her to never forgether traumatic experience in prison. The voice and scent of her captorand tormentor. One night by chance, after a night at a concertfeaturing a string quartet play music from Schubert, her senses pick upon something from her past. A middle aged gentleman who has a guiltycomposure (Ben Kingsley) Could it be....?A great film from Roman Polasnki. He knows how to motivate his actors.The direction was keen and everything clicked just fine. One ofPolanski's most underrated works. Filmed in Southern France.Highly recommended.
(27 April 2013)
Polanski as images maker is unique . He is a superb film maker and in this case this notable adaptation of the Ariel Dorfman play .First at all , the emotive nervous is powerful and only a talented director and an admirabble cast could take this material and become in an unforgettable film .Sigorney Weaver has made the best and finest acting of his career with this haunting story .Since her husband Gerard (Sam wilkinson) is hired to investigate a lot of political issues , he will meet to Miranda (Ben Kingsley), and for those curious coincidences she is really surprised due that voice sounds her familiar .This initial suspect will turn in the awful true that will reveal the crudeness , the insanity and the excess of a merciless and absence of any scruple in the Government represive forces .Watch the film coda in which we will see the couple in a Hall Concert listening the death and the maiden this glorious quartet of Franz Schubert . That cross of sights , seem to vanish , ignore and rejoin themselves in a final which states clearly several issues.First there is in the air the attempt to sacrifice in the name of a future free of revenge , the right spirit of justice and prevailing of the truth .But there is the sense of blame of Gerard concerned with the fact of avoiding to croos the line and not going to the last consequences of the investigation , in contrats with her who to her own way established her own behavior and punishment code out off record .Watch that shocking and haunting film . One of the most remarkable films of that decade and an artistic triumph in itself .
hooshi (25 April 2013)
The title refers to Schubert's masterpiece. The heroine, a torture victim,remembers that it was being played while she was being raped and tortured,which makes her hate Schubert, music, herself and the modern society'sclaim to civilization and Justice.In the post-Pinochet "Democracy" you caninvestigate those crimes against humanity, report them with charts,statistics, etc.,but you can not name the perpetrators, nor can anybody betried or questioned because of them, and that is what drives our heroinemad, and makes her act "irrationally".I think Polanski's version is o.k, butthe original Steppenwolf theater's presentation was much moreconvincing.
luckystrike6 (25 April 2013)
An incredible ratcheting-up of drama from beginning to end. Kingsley,as usual, gives a stunningly nuanced performance, and steals the screenwhen he speaks. His speeches are absolutely riveting. Excellentperformances as well from Sigourney Weaver and Stuart Wilson, who roundout the ensemble. Wilson is a vastly under-appreciated actor who does aphenomenal job portraying a very complex set of conflicts. Good choiceby Polanski. Needless to say, the real star of the film is thescreenplay. It's a shame that the film wasn't made more specific interms of which country it dealt with. Although set in countrysideintended to look distinctly Chilean, the dates it deals with moreclosely match those of the Argentine dictatorship. The film appears tohave been designed this way in order to intimate to American audiencesthat it could have taken place in either country, and indeed it couldhave; maybe the aim was to help viewers focus on the universality ofthe emotions and trials involved, rather than involving them with thehistorical specifics of one particular dictatorship. The net effect,however, is unfortunate, in that it deprives the audience of a chanceto actually learn something about a hideous part of world history inwhich the United States was overtly complicit. By mythologizing theterritory, Polanski makes it easier for the audience to walk awayfeeling a sense of pity and mild remorse while remaining comfortablyignorant of historical realities the details of which they may simplynot care to confront. In other words, the temporal and geographicdisplacement of the plot makes it easy to conclude that these sorts ofthings happen to "those people over there," but could never happenhere. (How interesting it would be to remake this film now, in America,with a Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib detainee, her husband, and an DODagent!) The movie also skirts the spurious so-called theory of twodemons, that is, the fascista excuse that leftist guerrillas wereequally guilty of crimes as the military. However, in so doing, it isactually simply being as apolitical as possible, and so can't really beapplauded for that -- better had it addressed the issue directly whenit had the chance. For a better understanding of the sociopoliticalissues "Death and the Maiden" is really commenting on, it's well worthseeing "La Historia Oficial" (Argentina : 1985), "Imagining Argentina,"(2003) and Oliver Stone's "Salvador" (1986), to get an idea of Americaninvolvement in the atrocities that took place in Latin America from the1950s onward. Many books have also been written on the subject,including "Fear in Chile: Lives Under Pinochet" (Politzer) and"Pinochet's Chile: An Eyewitness Report 1980/81" (Macleod. Out ofprint.)
(22 April 2013)
This review is from: Death and the Maiden (DVD) If you have read the play by Ariel Dorfman, I think you will find this movie adpatation to be wanting. Though there are fine performances by Weaver and Kingsley, Polanski connects too many of the dots for the viewer, leaving little doubt as to the credibility (or madness) of the main characters. It was this very ambiguity that made the play so enjoyable, but this is not evident in the DVD.
gavin6942 (22 April 2013)
A political activist (Sigourney Weaver) is convinced that her guest(Ben Kingsley) is a man who once tortured her for the government.Sigourney Weaver topless, not something I ever needed to see. She playsa nut case and I hate her even more than usual in this film. The worsttorture I can imagine is having Weaver's used panties stuffed in mymouth. Also, her acting is really, really, really bad. Her casting tookthis film from a potential success to a steaming pile of horse apples.This was directed by Roman Polanski, whose experience with theHolocaust makes the topic of human rights a personal matter.In the background is a human rights commission to examine torture andmurder between 1975-1980 with Weaver's husband as the head and her as askeptic, thinking the whole thing is a "whitewash". She works,inadvertently, to sabotage it."You can never entirely possess the female soul." This quote appears,attributed to Nietzsche. What is its significance?
(22 April 2013)
The Bottom Line:Though Weaver is often outacted by her two costars, this adaptation of Dorfman's play is so consistently interesting and thought-provoking that it more than makes up for Sigourney's occasional lapses; with a clever structure, interesting background, and great monologue by Kingsley at the end, it's an underrated treasure.
(21 April 2013)
It's more than a bit ironic to note that Death and the Maiden, arguably the most compassionately told film dealing with the long-term psychological effects of rape since Ida Lupino's Outrage in 1950, is directed by Roman Polanski, himself a confessed rapist. Is this movie, made almost two decades after his fleeing America to avoid prosecution, meant to be some sort of an attempt at penance? Regardless of it's intent, the resulting film is clearly Polanski's most personal to date (at least until 2002's The Pianist), and a return to form after a long stretch of sketchy output.Having helped to shape some of the best female performances of the last half century (Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion and Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby to name a few), Polanski continues to cement his reputation as an actor's director, this time showcasing Sigourney Weaver (who's ever been a stronger screen presence than she is here). An actor of remarkable versatility, she's finally given a role that's both deserving of her talents and doesn't include aliens. And unlike her previous career-high (Gorillas in the Mist), she's allowed to fully embody the character without the disadvantage of having a director and a script that condescends to her.Starring as Paulina Escobar, a former member of a leftist resistance group in an unnamed South American country, the film finds her married to an inept, idealistic lawyer (Stuart Wilson) who has only a vague understanding of the skeletons in her closet. That is until one night when, waiting for him to return from a meeting with the newly appointed President, he's dropped off by a stranger who's voice sounds eerily familiar. He explains to her that he'd had a flat tire and man had given him a lift home, so she seems to drop it. They quarrel briefly, make love, then are interrupted in the middle of the night by a knock at the door.It's the stranger (Ben Kingsley, playing to or against type, depending on who you believe) come to drop off a new tire, an act of curious generosity given that the two men barely know eachother. After a few awkward moments, he's invited in for a nightcap and begins asking oddly probing questions. It turns out that Gerardo (Wilson) is heading the prosecution of those guilty of torture under the previous regime and is anxious for a sympathetic ear. That's just what Dr. Miranda (Kingsley) offers him, and it's during this Q and A session that Paulina begins to suspect that she may have finally found her tormentor.What ensues from there is a psychological game of cat and mouse that's as tense as anything Polanski's ever done, as Paulina bounds and gags the doctor while attempting to coax a confession from him, though his guilt or innocence is left unresolved until the bitter end. It's here that the casting proves so vital. After all, can the man who played Gandhi really be guilty of such insidious crimes? I won't give away the ending, but rest assured it's one not soon to be forgotten, and allows Kingsley one of the best scenes of his career.All three actors have great moments for that matter. A favorite of mine is when Kingsley, begging to be freed from his bounds after briefly incompasitating Paulina, says to Gerardo, "You did nothing. You just stood there." And Weaver responds, "Of course he just stood there. He's the law." It's these small, seemingly insignificant scenes that reveal the film's subtle nuances and make it a must-see.
(19 April 2013)
One of what I consider the best movies. I just want to warn you that this movie deals with torturing a child sexually although the scene does not show it, in case you would like to avoid that topic. The actors are acting so well that it feels almost real. What amazes me most is the fact that there are only three persons acting in the movie. With only three persons so much is going on, and story evolves, never letting me bored. This movie is very interesting, but I wouldn't watch it when I am in a gloomy mood. Also I would not show this movie to any child or young person. This movie is about an intense anger/resentment and forgiveness. I do not know if it is realistic for a woman to be that courageous. The story itself, together with the excellent acting is quite intense, and I would not say it is entertaining, but it is a good movie. No revenge can satisfy you, then what do you do? This movie is about forgiving unforgivable.
(18 April 2013)
After I had bought the tape of this movie I realized that I had seen this movie some time ago, and, although I raley watch most films more than onec, the perfomances by Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley are outstanding. This movie is almost like an emotional play, we have one scene, an isolated house on the cliffs of the seashore, and three characters. Period.... It's probably for that reason that you won't see this film cut on DVD because I don't think it was a project for the masses but probably a project of the director, Polanski, and the actors to show their fabulous range of acting skill. In the case of Sigourney she shows us a lot more than we got in her Alien movies since she does appear totally nude ina bedroom scene from the wait up. Even that scene was critical for us to note the cigar burn scars on her left breast...... Ben Kingsley's acting as the wicked DR is absolutely superb (I mean do you expect any less of him) and, although he never managed to convince me of his possible innocence, his acting made everything seem so much like real life .... Weavers portayal of Pauline, the revenging rape victim is electric from point one. Her resolve to make the evil dr Miranda (Kingsley) confess to the torture and rape, while having to listen to her lawyer husband, Stuart Wislon, implore her to be reasonable, is incredible and probably one of her strongest perfomances ....
Review total: 20, showing from 1 to 20