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Death and the Maiden [Import]

Sigourney Weaver , Ben Kingsley , Roman Polanski    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 96.52
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Product Description

Amazon.ca

Roman Polanski's film adaptation of Ariel Dorfman's stunning play about the legacy of torture has more in common with the director's first film, Knife in the Water (with all the latter's unnerving ambiguities about power, sexual transgression, and confused alliances among three people) than a straightforward political parable. Sigourney Weaver (a bit underwhelming in this role, but good overall) plays a former political prisoner in an unnamed South American country that has gone democratic. She is married to a government official (fine work by Stuart Wilson) heading up official inquiries into the practice of torture under the former regime. Still shattered by her experience, Weaver's character seeks safe haven in closets of the cliff-top house she shares with her husband. But when the latter comes home in the company of a seemingly nice fellow (a brilliant Ben Kingsley), she believes she recognizes the stranger as the interrogator who raped her repeatedly in prison. She violently takes him hostage, and what ensues is a hurricane of fury and confusion, as Kingsley's terrified character denies all accusations, Wilson's guilt-ridden spouse can't decide whom to defend, and Weaver turns her psychosexual rage into a weapon of humiliation. Dorfman adapted the screenplay himself, but there's no question that Polanski is leading us down a familiar path of human betrayal and terror that he crossed in such films as Rosemary's Baby, Repulsion, and Bitter Moon. At times stunning in its bluntness and compelling to the last, Death and the Maiden literally takes us to the edge of oblivion, where--in Polanski's films--the hardest truths always seem to fall into a heretofore unknown perspective. --Tom Keogh

Product Description

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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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Death & The Maiden May 16 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Based on a play (by Ariel Dorfman ) which why most of the action takes place almost completely in the house. Might make some people feel "claustrophobic" (not me)
Signourney Weaver plays Paulina a woman who had suffered torture and rape by a doctor, during the revolution, when she worked for an underground newspaper and was "arrested" She refused to tell the name of her leader, the man that is now her husband
The movie is set in "A country in South America, after the fall of dictatorship" Paulina is seen preparing for the arrival of her husband Gerardo Escobar ( A lawyer & civil right activist), making dinner and listening to the radio. A story on the news concerning a formation of a commitee on human rights violations that'll investigate acts of tortures commited between 1975-1980 comes on, she looks uncomfortable and goes to switch it off, then hears her husband is being considered to chair the commitee (news to her) and rumor has it that he has accepted.
The power goes out, and she continues to wait for Gerardo, an unfamiliar car pulls up to the house, she runs around blowing out the candles and grabs a gun. But it's just Gerardo, their car had a flat and he hitched a ride with a doctor (Roberto Miranda) who also has a house nearby.
They fight about the comission. Paulina thinks it's whitewash, and 'dignifying a betrayal" "What'll happen to the men they can prove were on the death squads?" she askes "the evidence will be turned over to the courts" says Gerardo, Paulina scoffs "Maybe over the judge who told Maria Bautista, no her husband wasn't tortured, he just ran off with a younger woman." It'll only involve cases that ended in death for the victim, Gerardo says he has get the president to change the rules, but to Gerardo it's a job worth doing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars intense June 26 2004
Format:DVD
this is the most intense movie i have ever seen. i thought my heart had stopped at the end. i don't want to give anything just watch it....
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3.0 out of 5 stars Intense and disturbing May 30 2004
Format:VHS Tape
I would not recommend this for most people. It is painful to watch and artificial, very stagy (not surprising since it was adapted from a stage play written by Ariel Dorfman), and ultimately not redemptive (as the video jacket claims), but perverse and depressing.
Sigourney Weaver gives a raw-edged performance almost entirely in one key. She plays a woman (Pauline Escobar) who was raped and tortured by a Nazi-like doctor named Roberto Miranda played by Ben Kingsley in some unidentified South American country. Since Dorfman is from Argentina, we'll assume it's Argentina. Certainly this sort of thing happened there during the time of the "Disappeared." The other member of the three-person cast is her husband (Gerardo Escobar) played by Stuart Wilson. Roman Polanski directed.
The title comes from Franz Schubert's string quartet of the same name which was played by the doctor as he tortured Pauline.
This is a polarizing film. Women who have ever suffered anything at the hands of men will identify with Weaver's character and may find the film brilliant. Most men will not even be able to watch it.
There is some ambiguity in the ending, as to whether Roberto really was guilty as charged. My opinion is that he was without doubt. The final scene (which I can't describe since it would give away too much) is really a statement about the nature of horror and how it can live on amidst the most familiar settings, a man patting his son on the head, some people attending a concert.
I thought Wilson gave the most balanced performance. He had the most difficult role since it required subtlety and that he walk a fine line between accepting something monstrous in his presence or disbelieving his wife.
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Format:DVD
The majority of this high rating is due to Kingsley's riveting performance; even when he is just pacing in the background he dominates the screen. He absolutely steals the picture, and he will have you guessing even past the end.
IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT OR DON'T WANT THE ENDING SPOILED, READ NO FURTHER
I didn't like the ending. Even though I was convinced of Kingsley's innocence, when it turned out he was guilty it was really no surprise, because come on, what would you expect? In a suspense movie where a seemingly innocent person accused by another of being a villain, gee, what happens at the end? In spite of all his denials, he turns out to be guilty. A better ending would have been if it had turned out Weaver's character was simply paranoid and had been wrong the whole time. But then we wouldn't have had Kingsley's Lorre-esque final monologue, so I suppose it all worked out.
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