4 user 6 critic

Burning Secret (1988)

PG | | Drama | 23 December 1988 (USA)
This symbol-filled story, filmed with sensuous detail and nuance, is set in Austria in the 1920s. While being treated for asthma at a country spa, an American diplomat's lonely 12-year-old ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (novel)

Watch Now

With Prime Video

5 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »


Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Desire (1992)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A Scottish woman who attends school in Paris comes home for the summer and helps take in the straw, where she meets an attractive and simple man. They begin a torrid affair despite the ... See full summary »

Director: Andrew Birkin
Stars: Greta Scacchi, Vincent D'Onofrio, Anaïs Jeanneret
The Gamble (1988)
Comedy | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  
Director: Carlo Vanzina
Stars: Matthew Modine, Faye Dunaway, Jennifer Beals
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  

A group of young British guardsmen have to cover up a hit and run incident that occurred at the end of a night of drunken revelry.

Director: Nick Broomfield
Stars: Gabriel Byrne, Amanda Donohoe, Struan Rodger
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Four children try to hold things together and play a family in their isolated prefab house after the death of their parents. As they begin to deteriorate mentally, they hide their mom's festering corpse in a makeshift concrete sarcophagus.

Director: Andrew Birkin
Stars: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Andrew Robertson, Alice Coulthard
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  

A group of adventurers sneak into Cuba to try to recover $1 million in cash that when hidden when Fidel Castro took over in 1959. They find themselves trying to avoid detection by Cuban ... See full summary »

Director: Roger Holzberg
Stars: Faye Dunaway, Daniel J. Travanti, Kim Cattrall
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5/10 X  

Dr Calgary returns home from an expedition and goes looking for a hitchhiker whom he gave a lift to two years previously in order to return the man's address book. He discovers the man has been executed for his mother's murder.

Director: Desmond Davis
Stars: Donald Sutherland, Faye Dunaway, Christopher Plummer
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Two gay teenagers go on the run after witnessing a murder.

Director: Philip Saville
Stars: Emile Charles, Tony Forsyth, Robert Stephens
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  

During World War II, an American serviceman in London decides to impress his English girlfriend by acting as an American gangster, which soon turns deadly.

Director: Bernard Rose
Stars: Emily Lloyd, Kiefer Sutherland, John Lahr
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Young Arturo Bandini loves his father Svevo, his mother Maria and his brothers.

Director: Dominique Deruddere
Stars: Joe Mantegna, Ornella Muti, Faye Dunaway
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Julia, a divorced American fashion designer, is dying of a tragic, incurable disease. With only ten days to live, she spends her time vacationing in an Italian villa and watching television... See full summary »

Director: Vittorio De Sica
Stars: Faye Dunaway, Marcello Mastroianni, Enrico Simonetti
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

Surreal tale of a friendless, lonely boy who dreams of escape from a broken home with an neglectful, promiscuous. alcoholic mother and self-centered, clueless, absent father.

Director: Svend Wam
Stars: Anders Borchgrevink, Nina Gunke, Bjørn Skagestad
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Alfred Abel, Hilde Wagener, Hans Joachim Schaufuß


Cast overview, first billed only:
David Eberts ...
Edmund's father
Doctor Weiss
Martin Obernigg ...
Václav Stekl ...
Assistant Concierge
Vladimír Pospísil ...
Hotel Manager
Karel Karas-Kratochvil ...
Sanatorium Manager
Jarmila Derkova ...
Frau Isambard
Josef Kubícek ...
Station Master
Veronika Jeníková ...
Kissing Woman
Roman Hájek ...
Kissing Man
Hotel Guest (as Raul Schranil)


This symbol-filled story, filmed with sensuous detail and nuance, is set in Austria in the 1920s. While being treated for asthma at a country spa, an American diplomat's lonely 12-year-old son is befriended and infatuated by a suave, mysterious baron. During a story of his war experiences, the baron reveals the scar of a wound from an American soldier and thrusts a pin through it, saying "see-- no feeling." Little does the boy realize that it is his turn to be wounded. But soon his adored friend heartlessly brushes him aside and turns his seductive attentions to his mother. The boy's jealousy and feelings of betrayal become uncontrollable. Written by Paul Emmons <pemmons@wcupa.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




PG | See all certifications »





Release Date:

23 December 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Avastahto mystiko  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


MGM first announced this way back in 1964. See more »


Mrs. Tuchman: It seems the deepest love affairs are those left unfulfilled.
Baron: Therein lies a tragedy.
Mrs. Tuchman: Not at all. To consummate love is to make it mortal.
See more »


Remake of The Burning Secret (1933) See more »


G'schichen aus dem Winerwald
Music by Johann Strauss
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

31 July 1999 | by (Philadelphia) – See all my reviews

The several published criticisms linked by IMDB are all over the map about this movie, not only as to their reactions to the art-film mood (a negative reaction to which, although I can't say I really understand, one must admit clearly reflects many people's values and expectations in cinematic entertainment these days), but even as to Brandauer's acting, a craft about which one would think one could be objective.

Well, I'm here to say I liked it all. So art films like this give art films a bad name? And what Hollywood is now serving up as standard fare-- ever-louder explosions, flashier collisions, and interminable series of action scenes so frenetic as to make the whole idea of suspension of disbelief a moot issue-- doesn't give anything whatsoever a bad name? Sorry, beside that I'll be a sucker for woozy art films, if that's what they are, any day. We need a few more.

About a film like this, one is able to ponder, to wonder what might be implied, and to ask questions even about what might not have been implied.

So the acting is poor by giving the impression that the Baron and Mrs. Tuchman, even as they were becoming lovers, loathed each other? This is a real-life possibility, you know. To give just one example: suppose that I have such low self-esteem as to feel unattractive, even a freak, and to take it for granted that no one would take any initiative towards me. Then someone does. What might I feel? Perhaps I'd feel that the other person must be weird too, has a fetish for the kind of freak I am. Furthermore, since I am not worth loving, the other person cannot possibly want to love me, but wants something less worthy from me. Because I loathe myself, I must loathe anyone who gets close to me.

If there is a subtle loathing between these two characters in this film, it is not a flaw, because it is perfectly in order to ponder how or why that might be, beneath the surface: there are things beneath the surface. Not a lot of movies made today would support such a complicated sentiment. One critic, evidently, was too used to them.

Another point to ponder: what did Edmund tell his father? The usual assumption is that, although he intended to reveal his mother's unfaithfulness, at the last minute he drew back and concealed it. I'm not so sure about that. Everything indicates that Mr. Tuchman is a very wise and gentle man, with exceptional insight into the labyrinths of the human heart; and Edmund is a boy who expresses his feelings with a touching forthrightness and sincerity and who despises lying. Just maybe he told the truth, the whole truth: his mother was very lonely, so much that she was taken in and seduced by a very deceitful man, and the incident left her sorry and even more miserable than before. It seems to me that when the father met her again, he knew everything. Diplomat that he was, he realized then that his professional burdens had caused him to neglect his wife, and he was quietly going to make amends. "There is nothing more to say about this." Would such a man be unaware if his own son had just concocted a tissue of lies? It would be quite ironic if he, of all people, congratulated his son for becoming a man due to a successful cover-up. Or is he congratulating him for developing diplomacy: to know the truth but not necessarily to tell the truth in so many words. However it happened, Edmund's father knew and Edmund was the messenger. They had an understanding.

"To know all is to forgive all." Is this what the film suggests? And if so, is it true? These are the questions which perceptive critics should be debating.

One might ponder the echoes of World War I reverberating around the plot. The baron had been wounded by an American soldier. Edmund was an American. Edmund's father was an American. Edmund's mother was not. Perhaps revenge was part of his motives. I hasten to say that I caught no such overtones in Zweig's short story, and would expect none, because he was very much an internationalist. Perhaps we have a subtle innovation on the part of the moviemakers here, but it only increases the interest.

Finally, the baron's behavior towards Edmund, after developing such a blissful friendship with romantic suggestions, was so callous that it could not have done this boy, who was also lonely, any emotional good. And all this to chalk up one more casual female conquest. How much better a man might he have been were he truly interested in Edmund the way he at first appeared to be.

20 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Unusual 3 way love affair sparebricks
Discuss Burning Secret (1988) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: