7.3/10
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78 user 57 critic

Death and the Maiden (1994)

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

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Krystia Mova ...
Dr. Miranda's Wife
Jonathan Vega ...
Dr. Miranda's Son
Rodolphe Vega ...
Dr. Miranda's Son
Gilberto Cortés ...
String Quartet Player (as Gilberto Cortes)
Jorge Cruz ...
String Quartet Player
Carlos Moreno ...
String Quartet Player
Eduardo Valenzuela ...
String Quartet Player
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:

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Details

Country:

| |

Language:

Release Date:

27 January 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La muerte y la doncella  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$2,104,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Apart from the opening and closing opera scenes, this movie is essentially a three-hander, with a predominant cast of only three actors, as was with the film's source stage play by Ariel Dorfman. See more »

Goofs

Dr. Miranda's moustache changes inconsistently throughout the movie. 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

Referenced in Frasier: Death and the Dog (1997) 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
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Brilliant dark character study
23 June 2005 | by (Beverley Hills, England) – See all my reviews

When it comes to dark and morbid thrillers, there's no one around that can handle them like Roman Polanski does. It is with that in mind, therefore, that I say Polanski is the best man for the job of adapting Ariel Dorfman's stage play; 'Death and the Maiden'. He proves this with the resulting movie, which is a thrill ride, combined with a character study all wrapped up in a layer of morbidity; needless to say, the film really hits home. Polanski handles this story, and his actors with the utmost precision and I have no qualms with labelling this movie as one of the man's masterpieces. I have no idea quite why it hasn't been better received, as although it's not up there with the likes of Knife in the Water, Chinatown and Rosemary's Baby; this is Polanski doing what Polanski does best, and when he's at his best; the man is brilliant. The story follows a chance encounter between a political lawyer and his neighbour, whom the man's wife is certain, is the same man who brutally beat and raped her while blindfolded under the reign of a fascist regime. What follows is a three-way character study between the victim, the man she thinks is her oppressor, and her husband; who is caught in the middle.

The themes of truth and justice are rampant in this tale and as we watch to see if the villain of the piece really is the man who oversaw torture in the oppression, we are always reminded of the idea of the difference between a right and just punishment, and otherwise. As this is based on a stage play, it is the actors that are very much the star of the show. The three-pronged cast makes for a great ensemble, and every single one of them impresses. Sigourney Weaver gives determination and anger to her victim, and it is easy to believe that this woman really was tortured and beaten. Stuart Wilson is great also as the man caught in the middle of a horrible situation, but it is Ben Kingsley that provides the real standout performance. He manages to skilfully tread a line between an evil madman and a pathetic innocent victim brilliantly, and he ensures that at all times we are asking the question "did he?". Polanski's direction is superb, and the thing that most impressed me is the way that he firmly positions the tale in the middle of nowhere. This ensures no distraction, and makes sure that we are put firmly within our character's plight.

On the whole, this is one of the best films that Polanski ever made. Considering his prowess as a filmmaker; that is really saying something and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this film to anyone who enjoys movies.


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