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Death and the Maiden (1994)

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A political activist is convinced that her guest is a man who once tortured her for the government.

Director:

Roman Polanski

Writers:

Ariel Dorfman (play), Rafael Yglesias (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Sigourney Weaver ... Paulina Escobar
Ben Kingsley ... Dr. Roberto Miranda
Stuart Wilson ... Gerardo Escobar
Krystia Mova Krystia Mova ... Dr. Miranda's Wife
Jonathan Vega Jonathan Vega ... Dr. Miranda's Son
Rodolphe Vega Rodolphe Vega ... Dr. Miranda's Son
Gilberto Cortés Gilberto Cortés ... String Quartet Player (as Gilberto Cortes)
Jorge Cruz Jorge Cruz ... String Quartet Player
Carlos Moreno Carlos Moreno ... String Quartet Player
Eduardo Valenzuela Eduardo Valenzuela ... String Quartet Player
Sergio Ortega Alvarado Sergio Ortega Alvarado ... String Quartet Manager
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Storyline

Paulina Escobar is a political activist whose husband is a prominent lawyer in an unnamed South American country just out of a dictatorship. 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. Written by Henry G. Herron <hgherron@wsuhub.uc.twsu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

How long would you wait... How much would you risk... How far would you go... for the truth? See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language including descriptions of violent situations | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | France | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 January 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La muerte y la doncella See more »

Filming Locations:

France See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$74,366, 23 December 1994, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,104,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo | Dolby SR

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sigourney Weaver stated in a later interview that Director Roman Polanski would sometimes randomly fire a gun in order to get the most genuine expressions of fear from the cast. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning Paulina is cooking something in a pan over the fire, then, for dinner she produces only a roasted chicken and green salad. So what was she cooking in the pan? See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Gerardo Escobar: Are you quite sure you won't come in?
Dr. Roberto Miranda: No thanks, just want to get home after that.
Gerardo Escobar: Yeah, me too. Look, I'm really sorry for all the trouble I put you to.
Dr. Roberto Miranda: Yeah, no problem.
Gerardo Escobar: Well if I can't persuade you, why don't you come over some time. Thanks again, goodbye.
Gerardo Escobar: [returning again to the car] Ah, you now it's crazy, I never introduced myself. Gerardo Escobar.
Dr. Roberto Miranda: Dr. Roberto Miranda.
Gerardo Escobar: It's very nice to meet you. If you're ever passing...
Dr. Roberto Miranda: Escobar? The lawyer?
[...]
See more »

Connections

Version of Dansh (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

SCHUBERT STRING QUARTET IN D MINOR
Written by Franz Schubert
Performed by Amadeus Quartet (as The Amadeus Quartet)
Recording courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon Gmbh
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
an absorbing, relentless psychothriller
30 April 2006 | by Jonny_NumbSee all my reviews

"Death and the Maiden" begins in a purposely disorienting way--a woman walks around her secluded, South American villa, preparing dinner, when the power suddenly goes out. Her husband is returned home by a stranger after his car gets a flat; later, after assuaging his wife's spastic bouts of unexplained paranoia, the stranger returns with the husband's spare tire. The husband, wanting to reward the man's generosity, invites him in for a drink. The wife, who is extremely on edge, escapes the house undetected and steals the stranger's car, pushing it off a cliff and into the ocean below. After this, the film settles down into a three-character psychodrama of the highest order.

Roman Polanski, a director who can mine tension with a bare minimum of means, uses deliberate lighting, specific camera angles, and a well-paced narrative to create a film where the suspense is endlessly being ratcheted up a notch, often in ways that are quite surprising. The wife, Paulina (Sigourney Weaver), suspects the stranger (Ben Kingsley) of raping and torturing her years ago; her husband, Gerardo (Stuart Wilson), is a lawyer who is enlisted to get the man's confession. The game of psychological cat-and-mouse that ensues is absorbing.

Both Kingsley and Wilson fare well in their roles, but it is Weaver who energizes the film. Her performance is absolutely (this deserves all caps) RUTHLESS, filled with moments of raging violence, icy detachment, and degradation (emphasized in graphic recollections of torture); if you thought Ellen Ripley was fearless in the face of the Queen Alien, "Death and the Maiden" shows an altogether different kind of tough exterior for the actress. In a way, I was reminded of the graphic revenge that took place in the infamous rape drama "I Spit on Your Grave"; while "Death and the Maiden" is superior, it is just as similarly driven (though the rape and torture is left to our imaginations), and its psychological edge, matched with top-drawer performances, moves it further from a 'filmed play' and into more visceral terrain. And, as he's so good at doing, Polanski keeps us guessing till the very end.

Highly recommended.


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