Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Death and the Maiden|
Actors: Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Stuart Wilson, Krystia Mova, Jonathan Vega
Director: Roman Polanski
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
A marriage becomes strained when the wife is confronted with a man she is convinced tortured and brutalized her when she was in jail years earlier.
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Sad and serious and ultimately meaningful on many levels
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 10/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 1994 film was adapted from a play by Argentinean playwright Ariel Dorfman and was directed by Roman Polanski. Set in an unnamed South American country, three people are thrown together in an isolated house on a dark and stormy night. The woman, played by Sigourney Weaver is clearly troubled and sad. Her husband, played by Stuart Wilson, is late for dinner. Turns out he had a flat tire and a stranger helped him out. That stranger, who is a doctor, played by Ben Kingsley, soon befriends the husband. The woman thinks the stranger is the man who tortured her while she was a political prisoner many years before.
There is a new kinder and gentler government now, which is investigating atrocities from the past. The woman's husband is in charge of the investigation, which is basically focused on identifying bodies and is giving amnesty to many of the worst criminals. Naturally this complicates the situation.
What follows is not a simple story though because, throughout, questions are raised that have no easy answers. Is the doctor really the torturer or an innocent man? After all, it all happened at least ten or more years in the past and the woman has never actually seen her torturer's face as she had been blindfolded the whole time. The doctor declares his innocence. At times, he's even charming. But she has tied him up and is determined to get a confession out of him.
There are many interwoven themes. The basic one is wondering if the doctor is, indeed, the right man. But then there is the relationship between the husband and the wife. We discover he and his wife were both members of the revolution but only she was caught and tortured. He has been trying to make that up to her for their whole marriage. We also get to hear a lot about the details of the torture. It is chilling and disturbing and, even though the only violence in the film is against the suspect who is tied up, the woman's prison experience, which is only talked about and not shown, is excruciatingly painful to hear about.
There are other questions raised too. What happens to a society when it gives someone power over a helpless person? Now, we see the woman with power over the tied-up doctor. And we are forced to think about how this kind of power corrupts a whole society. This is a concept that is universal, as fresh today as it has always been. And the director certainly knows how to bring it out. All of the actors were sensational. I soon forgot they were performing and was completely swept into the story. I could feel the pain of all three characters as well as the horror of the electric shocks of the past.
The title comes from a string quartet by Franz Schubert called Death and the Maiden. This piece of music had been played during the woman's torture. She has found a tape of it in the doctor's car and plays it throughout. It helps to frame the action, right down to the film's excellent and satisfying conclusion.
I was surprised to discover that this film had won no significant awards and got little recognition when it was released. It wasn't even given a high rating from the critics. That's too bad. I think that it is an important film. I'm glad I discovered it though. It's sad and serious and ultimately meaningful on many levels. And I give it my very highest recommendation.
Weaving the Maiden's Tale
firstname.lastname@example.org | London UK | 10/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is an utter masterpiece! Let's start with the plot- written by, and adapted from his own play by, Ariel Dorfman, the screenplay is wrought with twists and guilt and fear in almost every breath. Some find it a bit "stagy" but i couldn't see any of it! The direction- is wonderfully full of suspence, yet can be quite tender at times. Polanski knows his subject, knows what he's doing. The music- yes- the music! Written by Wojciech Kilar, who scored "Bram Stoker's Dracula", the music is very simple, yet extremely effective, and often moving. And finally- the acting- Stuart Wilson is very believable as Gerardo, and pulls off the feelings of guilt and anger very well. Ben Kingsley is startlingly acute in his performance as Miranda. He never allows any bias to enter his performance, so you are left guessing to the very end. And, of course, Sigourney Weaver. Who is simply AMAZING!! I knew she was a great actress, but she surpassed herself in this. The torture she goes through; the brief feelings of doubt, and then the dawning that this IS the man she wants. At least that's what she believes. This performance is so powerfull, so tender, so angry and so painfull, that if this were a bigger, studio film, Weaver would have finally walked off with an acadamy award. But, alas, the big studios cannot bring themselves to make movies that have so many strengths and so much to say. See this film. Learn and be amazed at the human beings it portrays. Do you recognise yourself in one of the characters?"
Wendy Schroeder | Englewood, Co United States | 08/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sigourney Weaver plays a woman who was tortured by a doctor who worked for a fascist regime. They had control of an unnamed country in South America. Her husband was taken home by this man when his car got a flat. She recognized his voice and when he returned later in the evening she ties him up hoping to get a confession out of him.
This is an incredibly suspenseful story. I was intending to put it on pause to get something to eat but I got too involved in the movie. There is only three people in this film and two scene places, the house and their property. But despite the minimalism it's a riveting plot. If you watch it, I doubt if you will be disappointed.
Fine cast, good script, dramatic and thought provoking
Donal Fenlon | 06/01/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The story of a torture victim of no small amount of character who believes she recognises her torturer and sets out to confront him. To add to the depth of the plot her husband is a lawyer working for the government and appointee to a commission to investigate the allegations of torture being voiced by people like his wife. Sigourney Weaver plays the troubled woman coming to terms with trauma while her husband and her captor face the truth. Taking place over a single evening at a remote country house this film steps around the prevarications and bureaucracy of officialdom. Adapted from a play and set in unspecified country, the victims view of justice is thoroughly explored. Torture is not an easy subject to tell about and the story makes clear what crimes were committed so it contains strong descriptions. This film gives a deep meaning to closure."