42 user 50 critic

Besieged (1998)

L'assedio (original title)
R | | Drama, Romance | 21 May 1999 (USA)
0:31 | Trailer

On Disc

at Amazon

When an African dictator jails her husband, Shandurai goes into exile in Italy, studying medicine and keeping house for Mr. Kinsky, an eccentric English pianist and composer. She lives in ... See full summary »
2,936 ( 9,074)
3 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The American artist couple Port and Kit Moresby travel aimlessly through Africa, searching for new experiences that could give sense to their relationship. But the flight to distant regions only leads both deeper into despair.

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Debra Winger, John Malkovich, Campbell Scott
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The son of the owner of a large Italian cheese factory is kidnapped, but as the factory is on the verge of bankruptcy the owner hatches a plan to use the ransom money as reinvestment in the... See full summary »

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Ugo Tognazzi, Anouk Aimée, Laura Morante
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

After her mother commits suicide, nineteen year old Lucy Harmon travels to Italy to have her picture painted. However, she has other reasons for wanting to go. She wants to renew her ... See full summary »

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Jeremy Irons, Liv Tyler, Carlo Cecchi
Luna (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

While touring in Italy, a recently-widowed American opera singer has an incestuous relationship with her 15-year-old son to help him overcome his heroin addiction.

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Jill Clayburgh, Matthew Barry, Veronica Lazar
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Athos Magnani, a young researcher, returns to Tara, where his father was killed before his birth, at the request of Draifa. The father, also named Athos Magnani and looking exactly like the... See full summary »

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Giulio Brogi, Alida Valli, Pippo Campanini
Little Buddha (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Lama Norbu comes to Seattle in search of the reincarnation of his dead teacher, Lama Dorje. His search leads him to young Jesse Conrad, Raju, a waif from Kathmandu, and an upper class ... See full summary »

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Bridget Fonda, Ruocheng Ying
Partner (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Bernardo Bertolucci, along with co-scenarist Gianni Amico, used Dostoievski's 1846, pre-imprisonment novella The Double: A Petersburg Poem, which they moved to Italy and updated to the pro-Vietcong student-protest present,

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Pierre Clémenti, Tina Aumont, Sergio Tofano
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The study of a youth on the edge of adulthood and his aunt, ten years older. Fabrizio is passionate, idealistic, influenced by Cesare, a teacher and Marxist, engaged to the lovely but ... See full summary »

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Adriana Asti, Francesco Barilli, Allen Midgette
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Near the Tiber river, in a Roman park, a prostitute was killed. The police tracks down people that were inside the park during that night. They are questioned and have to explain why they ... See full summary »

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Francesco Ruiu, Giancarlo De Rosa, Vincenzo Ciccora
1900 (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The epic tale of a class struggle in 20th Century Italy, as seen through the eyes of two childhood friends on opposing sides.

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Robert De Niro, Gérard Depardieu, Dominique Sanda
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A young Parisian woman meets a middle-aged American businessman who demands their clandestine relationship be based only on sex.

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider, Maria Michi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A weak-willed Italian man becomes a fascist flunky who goes abroad to arrange the assassination of his old teacher, now a political dissident.

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Gastone Moschin


Cast overview, first billed only:
John C. Ojwang ...
Massimo De Rossi ...
Cyril Nri ...
Paul Osul ...
Piano Buyer
Veronica Lazar ...
Piano Buyer
Gian Franco Mazzoni ...
Piano Buyer (as Gianfranco Mazzoni)
Maria Mazetti Di Pietralata ...
Piano Buyer
Andrea Quercia ...
Child pianist at concert
Alexander Menis ...
Child at concert
Natalia Mignosa ...
Child at concert
Lorenzo Mollica ...
Child at concert
Elena Perino ...
Child at concert


When an African dictator jails her husband, Shandurai goes into exile in Italy, studying medicine and keeping house for Mr. Kinsky, an eccentric English pianist and composer. She lives in one room of his Roman palazzo. He besieges her with flowers, gifts, and music, declaring passionately that he loves her, would go to Africa with her, would do anything for her. "What do you know of Africa?," she asks, then, in anguish, shouts, "Get my husband out of jail!" The rest of the film plays out the implications of this scene and leaves Shandurai with a choice. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

jail | english | love | gift | flower | See All (109) »


Touched by Genius. Cursed by Madness. Blinded by Love.


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for brief sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






| |

Release Date:

21 May 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Asediada  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$159,289 (USA) (21 May 1999)


$2,032,621 (USA) (30 July 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This was originally meant to be a 60 minute TV play until Bernardo Bertolucci decided to expand it. See more »


References Chungking Express (1994) See more »


Written & Performed by John C. Ojwang
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A delicate dance of a movie
20 July 1999 | by (Ottawa, Canada) – See all my reviews

What a lovely film this is! I usually do not go for the kind of heavy-handed aestheticism Bertolucci has been partial to in his last few movies ("Stealing Beauty", "Little Buddha", "The Last Emperor" et al.), so imagine my surprise when this movie turned out to be an exquisitely rendered intimate love story. There are basically only two main characters: Jason Kinsky, a reclusive expatriate British pianist in Rome with an uncertain past (played here with great delicacy and understated charm by David Thewlis, in a 180 degree turnabout from the profane misanthrope he played in "Naked"), and Thandie Newton's Shandurai, his African housekeeper, who fled her strife-torn native country to train as a medical doctor in Rome while supporting herself by performing domestic drudgery. The striking, almost wordless opening sequence serves as an introduction to Shandurai's past. Then the camera rapidly cuts to the present day Rome, where already besotted Kinsky orbits around his beautiful and distant housekeeper, not realizing that her nights are tormented by the memory of her husband, a political prisoner left back in Africa. When Kinky approaches Shandurai with a hasty declaration, he is met with a steely and passionate resistance. Chastened, he retreats into a polite distance from the object of his desire. But from then on, nothing goes as expected. For the rest of the movie is about the change in the balance of this relationship, and the singular way through which the capitulation of Shandurai is achieved. The central sacrifice in the story is a grand romantic gesture of Gastbian proportion, simultaneously selfless and selfish.

I was completely enthralled at the way this movie unraveled itself, layer by delicate layer, with little dialogue but with a kaleidoscope of imagery and most of all, with music. Bertolucci is frequently obssessed with his heroine's beauty, and this is no exception. The camera frequently lingers on the gentle curve of Newton's arm, the slope of her back, and on her great dark eyes. However, Bertolucci has for once given us a compelling female character, a woman of determination as well as beauty, unlike his usual bevy of vacuous/self destructive mannequins (e.g. Liv Tyler in "Stealing Beauty", Dominique Sanda in "1900", etc). Shandurai's new-world vigor and her sense of purpose contrast starkly with Kinsky's aimlessness, his solitude, and especially his music, which permeates the movie with exquisite melancholy (the music consists mainly of solo piano pieces by Bach, Chopin, Scrabin and Coltrane). Likewise, the effect of their relationship on Kinsky is expressed most effectively through the transformation in his music, as primitive beats of Africa are blended into the lyricism of Kinsky's composition.

The movie is short, sparse and as different as night and day from the usually action-driven fares of Hollywood. Bertolucci, in a rare form, has fashioned a truly adult film that deftly navigates through the complexities of the human heart.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
The Ending Kay_Tee
sympathy for kinsky jgutie84
Song Question seagull_wu
the man always singing.... Gina00077
Chronology kikojones
Shandurai and her friend ana_cherrynose91
Discuss Besieged (1998) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: