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Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)

A gay man and a political prisoner are together in a prison. The gay man narrates the stories of two fake movies and his own life.



(based on the novel by),

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 12 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
... Luis Molina
... Valentin Arregui
... Leni Lamaison / Marta / Spider Woman (as Sonia Braga)
... Warden
... Pedro
Míriam Pires ... Mother (as Miriam Pires)
... Gabriel
Fernando Torres ... Americo
Patricio Bisso ... Greta
Herson Capri ... Werner
Denise Dumont ... Michele (as Denise Dummont)
Nildo Parente ... Leader of Resistance
Antônio Petrin ... Clubfoot (as Antonio Petrin)
Wilson Grey ... Flunky
Miguel Falabella ... Lieutenant


Luis Molina and Valentin Arregui are cell mates in a South American prison. Luis, a trans individual, is found guilty of immoral behavior and Valentin is a political prisoner. To escape reality Luis invents romantic movies, while Valentin tries to keep his mind on the situation he's in. During the time they spend together, the two men come to understand and respect one another. Written by Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

Agita Productions, Inc.




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Release Date:

26 July 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El beso de la mujer araña  »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$55,962, 27 July 1985, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Dan Weisman drove the footage across country to New York to re-cut it and work on sound. There was no insurance and no back-up footage. If something had happened on the road, the film might have been lost. See more »


[first lines]
Luis Molina: She's... well, she's something a little strange. That's what she noticed, that she's not a woman like all the others. She seems all wrapped up in herself. Lost in a world she carries deep inside her.
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Referenced in Desmond's: Kiss of the Spiderman (1993) See more »


La Marseillaise
Written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Heard during one of the scenes of Molina's story
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

An beautiful. touching, story between two different prisoners.
20 November 2010 | by See all my reviews

In a Brazilian prison cell, there is two different people shares an cell. A homosexual man named Luis Molina (Oscar-Winner:William Hurt) is in prison for having sex with a minor and Valentin Arregui (The late Raul Julia) is a political prisoner for the revolutionary group. Which Valentin is been tortured by the prison guards for searching any answering for his political views. Luis keeps his spirit alive by telling old tacky Hollywood movies by past the day, although it entertains Valentin somewhat. As the two prisoners get to know each other, the more Valentin opens up to Luis. But Luis is hoping to get his prison time reduce, if he tells the prison warden (José Lewgoy) some of Valentin's secrets. While Luis is slowly falling in love with Valentin.

Directed by Hector Babenco (At Play in the Fields of the Lord, Ironweed) made an intriguing drama that mixes romance, fantasy and comedy quite well. Hurt won an Oscar for his superb three-dimensional performance. The late Julia is also terrific. While Sonia Braga is amusing in three different roles, which two of the roles are in Luis' tales. This is unique movie that is surprisingly fast-paced and quite moving at times. The movie was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Adapated Screenplay by the late Leonard Schrader (Blue Collar, Naked Tango, The Yakuza) and Best Director.

The DVD is the two-disc set. Disc One has an good anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) transfer and an fine digitally remastered:Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound (Also in the original Mono sound). Disc One also includes an trivia track in English and Spanish. Disc Two includes an fascinating documentary with the cast & the crew that runs 108 minutes. Disc Two also includes three featurettes, photo galleries and more. "Kiss of the Spider Woman" was an daring movie back in the 1980's, it is certainly much less controversial feature today. Still, the movie has its charms, thanks to Hurt's lovely performance and the late Julia's strong role. Based on a novel by the late Miguel Puig. (****/*****).

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