IMDb > Besieged (1998)
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Besieged (1998) More at IMDbPro »L'assedio (original title)

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Down 28% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Clare Peploe (writer) and
Bernardo Bertolucci (writer) ...
View company contact information for Besieged on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
21 May 1999 (USA) See more »
Touched by Genius. Cursed by Madness. Blinded by Love.
When an African dictator jails her husband, Shandurai goes into exile in Italy, studying medicine and keeping house for Mr... See more » | Add synopsis »
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2 wins & 11 nominations See more »
(2 articles)
20 films you must watch at Mumbai Film Festival 2012
 (From 27 September 2012, 2:14 AM, PDT)

Zee Studio Maiden Mondays Presents Besieged
 (From RealBollywood. 24 September 2010, 6:54 AM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Affecting Drama From Bernardo Bertolucci See more (42 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Thandie Newton ... Shandurai

David Thewlis ... Jason Kinsky

Claudio Santamaria ... Agostino
John C. Ojwang ... Singer
Massimo De Rossi ... Patient
Cyril Nri ... Priest
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
Fernando Trombetti ... Child at concert
Veronica Visentin ... Child at concert
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Directed by
Bernardo Bertolucci 
Writing credits
Clare Peploe (writer) and
Bernardo Bertolucci (writer)

James Lasdun (story)

Produced by
Massimo Cortesi .... producer
Clare Peploe .... associate producer
Original Music by
Alessio Vlad 
Cinematography by
Fabio Cianchetti 
Film Editing by
Jacopo Quadri 
Casting by
Fabiola Banzi 
Lucy Boulting 
Production Design by
Gianni Silvestri 
Art Direction by
Cynthia Sleiter  (as Cinzia Sleiter)
Set Decoration by
Cynthia Sleiter 
Costume Design by
Metka Kosak 
Makeup Department
Elisabetta De Leonardis .... hair stylist
Roberta Petrini .... makeup artist
Production Management
Andrea Filosa .... production manager
Emanuele Lomiry .... unit manager
Luigi Melecchi .... production manager: Africa
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Serena Canevari .... assistant director
Yahya Chavanga .... assistant director: Africa
Ginevra Elkann .... third assistant director
Henrique Laplaine .... second assistant director
Art Department
Vito Consoli .... painter
Renzo Corradi .... construction carpenter
Franco Fabietti .... construction carpenter
Ivano Gatti .... painter
Cristiano Gobbi .... swing gang
Metka Kosak .... textile and garden designer
Roberto Magagnini .... property master
Rodolfo Mignacca .... draper
Sabina Palermo .... props manager: Intelsa & Comunicazione
Massimo Papini .... swing gang
Monica Sallustio .... assistant art director
Vittoria Sogno .... art department assistant: Africa
Francesco Valento .... construction carpenter
Paolo Zamagni .... production design assistant
Sound Department
Fausto Ancillai .... sound re-recording mixer
Maurizio Argentieri .... sound
David Chelenga .... boom operator: Africa
Vincenzo Nardi .... boom operator
Gianni Pallotto .... assistant sound re-recording mixer
Alvaro Gramigna .... foley artist (uncredited)
Claudio Gramigna .... sound effects editor (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
David Bush .... visual effects supervisor
Camera and Electrical Department
Salvatore Anversa .... Steadicam operator
Alessio Bastianelli .... video controller
Fabio Bolli .... electrician
Alessia Bulgari .... still photographer
Aldo Colanzi .... key grip
Roberto De Nigris .... camera operator
Andrea Di Biase .... electrician
Igino Fabrizi .... electrician
Eugenio Galli .... assistant camera
Felice Guzzi .... gaffer
Mario Lamoratta .... generator operator
Maurizio Lorenzetti .... assistant camera
Wycliffe Makotsi .... gaffer: Africa
Gianni Mastrangelo .... still photographer: Africa
Gabriel Mugo Nduati .... grip: Africa
Martin N. Munyua .... assistant camera: Africa
Gianluigi Pasqualini .... electrician
Luigi Pasqualini .... electrician
Marco Santarelli .... grip
Paolo Tiberti .... dolly grip
Casting Department
Lenny Juma .... casting: Africa
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Suzanne Belcher .... wardrobe assistant: Africa (as Suzy Belcher)
Elisa di Serio .... seamstress
Editorial Department
Francesco Biscuso .... assistant to editor
Letizia Caudullo .... first assistant editor
Carlo La Bella .... color consultant (as Carlo Labella)
Lorenza Parlatore .... assistant to editor
Alessandro Baragli .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Music Department
Stefano Arnaldi .... music arranger
Stefano Arnaldi .... musician: piano solos
Transportation Department
Silvano Broglia .... driver
William Cheruyiot .... driver: Africa
Lucio Fanni .... driver
Yussuf Duale Ghani .... driver: Africa
Livio Gizzi .... driver
Vincenzo Novani .... driver
Samson Oladare .... driver: Africa
Simon Wakaba .... driver: Africa
Other crew
Nicoletta Billi .... unit publicist
Lara dall'Antonia .... assistant to producer
Suzanne Durrenberger .... script supervisor
Sabrina Falcioni .... cashier
Maria Fiorito .... production accountant
Fabien Gerard .... additional script supervisor
Gabriel Gitau .... assistant location manager: Africa
Denise Katana .... unit nurse: Africa
Dan Kiarie .... set coordinator: Africa
David Mangai .... unit runner: Africa
Victor Maniafu .... security: Africa
Jimmy Mukora .... location manager: Africa
Ben Pont .... armorer: Africa
Jenny Pont .... production coordinator: Africa
Tony Rimwa .... crowd control: Africa
Barbara Ruggeri .... production coordinator
Carlo Ventura .... dialogue coach
Julius Wanderi .... assistant location manager: Africa
Alberto De Stefani .... accountant (uncredited)
Hercules Bellville .... special thanks
Pio Bordoni .... special thanks
Olivia Cutore .... special thanks
Ulisse Ferrari .... special thanks
Thomas Fox .... special thanks
Vito Lucio Amedeo Garofalo .... special thanks
Marilyn Goldin .... special thanks
Samba Kosak .... special thanks
Carol Levi .... special thanks
Gabriele Mazzetti .... special thanks
Mark Peploe .... special thanks
Sheba Pombeah .... special thanks
Piers Rogers .... special thanks
Jeremy Thomas .... special thanks
Crew believed to be complete

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
"L'assedio" - Italy (original title)
"The Siege" - Canada (English title)
See more »
Rated R for brief sexuality
93 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Movie Connections:
References Chungking Express (1994)See more »


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26 out of 29 people found the following review useful.
Affecting Drama From Bernardo Bertolucci, 21 May 2001
Author: jhclues from Salem, Oregon

During the first twenty minutes or so of `Besieged,' directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, there is virtually no dialogue, at least nothing even remotely conversational; and yet the first half hour of the film is almost hypnotically riveting, and by that point you already know more about the two main characters than if they'd had pages worth of words to say. And it's all done with the subtle, controlled emoting of the actors, guided by a director with a keen eye for detail, who knows exactly what he wants, how to get it and how to present it.

This emotionally involving film stars Thandie Newton as Shandurai, a young woman forced to leave South Africa for Rome after her husband, a school teacher, is arrested by the Military Police, then summarily held in prison-- and without a trial-- indefinitely (His crime is never precisely indicated, though it is implied during a classroom scene at the very beginning of the film). In Rome, Shandurai attends medical school, while supporting herself by working as a housekeeper for a man named Mr. Kinsky (David Thewlis), a reclusive pianist, apparently fairly well-to-do, who gives piano lessons to children in his home.

Early on in the film it is evident that Mr. Kinsky looks upon Shandurai as something more than merely a housekeeper; he is obviously quite taken with her. The moral implications of the situation are readily apparent, of course, as is the position in which it will predictably place Shandurai at some point in the near future. There is little doubt as to the direction the story is taking; the question that remains, however, is how Shandurai will deal with her impending dilemma.

The story becomes even more engaging as matters are pressed and circumstances develop which make Shandurai's conundrum even more of a moral miasma. Bertolucci draws his audience in by creating a situation so emotionally complex that at times it fairly resonates on the screen. And rather than allowing it to become simply a test of love and loyalty, he takes it much deeper-- so that the real impact of the film stems from the respective stances taken by Shandurai and Mr. Kinsky, as they strive to resolve their personal feelings while attempting to satisfactorily breach this seemingly insurmountable situation. Bertolucci draws a delicate line on which he balances the emotions, actions and reactions of his characters, which pays off handsomely in the end.

The overall success of the film, however, is predicated upon on thing-- that being the performances of Newton and Thewlis; and both deliver, unequivocally. Newton's role is especially challenging, as she has to convey so much through her emotions alone. Her gestures, expressions and mannerisms are her words; and the slightest alteration of any of these-- the slightest arch of an eyebrow, a shifting of the eyes at a particular moment or a barely discernible movement of her lips-- speaks volumes. And for this to be effective, it had to come from a place deep within; mere surface theatrics or any hint of pretentiousness at any time would have dispelled the believability of the character at once-- and Newton not only prevails, but does so overwhelmingly. It's an extremely well realized portrayal of a woman in conflict, facing one of the greatest trials of her life.

Thewlis, as well, gives a resoundingly sympathetic performance as Mr. Kinsky, that would have to be ranked among the best work he's ever done. As with Newton's role, he must convey so much physically, and he does-- turning in a very sensitive, well defined performance through which he employs just the right amount of reserve and restraint as befits the character he is creating. It's an affecting, honest portrayal that makes Mr. Kinsky very real and believable.

The supporting cast includes Claudio Santamaria, John C. Ojwang, Massimo De Rossi, Cyril Nri, Paul Osul and Veronica Lazar. Artistically rendered and subtle in nuance, `Besieged' explores the parameters of love and measures the limits of the boundaries expressed by the heart. An insightful treatise on human nature, it removes one emotional layer after another, right up to the very end-- which is a moment of truth nothing less than sublime. And one that will keep this film in your memory long after the screen has gone dark. I rate this one 8/10.

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