Cuentos de Borges (1992– )
13 user 10 critic

Death and the Compass 

Not Rated | | Drama | Episode aired 5 August 1992
Detective Lonnrot declares war on the notorious outlaw Red Scharlach, after the outlaw has pulled of daring robbery. The mysterious murder of a Talmudic priest provides Lonnrot with a clue.


Alex Cox


Jorge Luis Borges (story), Alex Cox

On Disc

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1 nomination. See more awards »




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Boyle ... Erik Lonnrot
Miguel Sandoval ... Treviranus
Christopher Eccleston ... Alonso Zunz
Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez ... Ms.Espinoza / Harlequin
Pedro Armendáriz Jr. ... Blot
Alonso Echánove ... Novalis
Eduardo López Rojas Eduardo López Rojas ... Finnegan
Alex Cox ... Commander Borges
Karl Braun Karl Braun ... Sergeant
Gabriela Gurrola Gabriela Gurrola ... Hooker / Harlequin
Ariane Pellicer Ariane Pellicer ... Natasha
Mario Iván Martínez ... Hotel Manager
René Pereyra René Pereyra ... Azevedo
Roberto Sosa ... Drug Addict I
Bruno Bichir ... Drug Addict II


Detective Lonnrot declares war on the notorious outlaw Red Scharlach, after the outlaw has pulled of daring robbery. The mysterious murder of a Talmudic priest provides Lonnrot with a clue.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In a nightmare city inhabited only by criminals and police... a mystic detective finds a tool to catch a villainous outlaw.




Not Rated | See all certifications »


Official Sites:

Alex Cox


USA | Mexico | Japan



Release Date:

5 August 1992 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

La muerte y la brújula See more »

Filming Locations:

Mexico See more »


Box Office


$3,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Ultra Stereo (Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Originally a 55 minute film for the BBC released in 1992, Alex Cox had hoped to expand it into a full length feature film but the BBC was not interested. However in 1993, Japanese investors gave Alex $100,000 to shoot the film but the film went over budget allowing no funds for production. Alex decided to make The Winner (1996) in order to get funds which worked and he was able to complete Death and The Compass in 1996. See more »


Lonnrot: Let's just say I'm looking for a more rabbinical explanation.
See more »

Alternate Versions

This film was originally made in 1992 in a 50 minute version, which was shown on BBC TV and also Spanish television. Director Alex Cox wanted to expand the film to feature length but did not have sufficient financing at the time, and a few years passed before he could afford to shoot the extra material required. The newer footage consists mainly of extended monologues to camera by an older, embittered version of the character of Treviranus, and a flashback sequence showing the robbery of the Used Money Depository by Red Scharlach's gang. Of the lead actors, only Miguel Sandoval was available to reprise his original role, so his screen time is greatly extended in the feature-length version. The character of Red Scharlach is included in the robbery scene, but remains masked and silent so that the actor in question did not have to appear. See more »


Referenced in Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

More Burroughs than Borges
21 March 2002 | by JohnSealSee all my reviews

This wilfully bizarre adaptation of Borges short story is typical Cox. His strong visual sense is, as usual, undone by the appalling half baked acting of most of the cast. The film is definitely in the surreal tradition of Bunuel's Mexican period, and looks at times like a poor man's take on Lars Von Trier's Elements of Crime. Cox's apparent preference for single takes, jump cuts, and ambient sound recording all work against the film's effectiveness. Worth a look but ultimately disappointing.

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