Death and the Maiden

Overview

Ariel Dorfman's acclaimed play of the same name serves as the basis for Roman Polanski's drama, which depicts a politically and psychological complex battle of wills amongst three characters in an unnamed South American country. The trio in question is made up of Paulina Sigourney Weaver, her husband Gerardo Stuart Wilson, and Dr. Miranda Ben Kingsley, a seemingly friendly stranger who provided Gerardo with a ride home after a car breakdown. The trouble begins when Paulina claims to recognize Miranda's voice, and...
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Overview

Ariel Dorfman's acclaimed play of the same name serves as the basis for Roman Polanski's drama, which depicts a politically and psychological complex battle of wills amongst three characters in an unnamed South American country. The trio in question is made up of Paulina Sigourney Weaver, her husband Gerardo Stuart Wilson, and Dr. Miranda Ben Kingsley, a seemingly friendly stranger who provided Gerardo with a ride home after a car breakdown. The trouble begins when Paulina claims to recognize Miranda's voice, and accuses him of being the unseen doctor who had subjected her to horrific torture during her days as a prisoner of the country's former government. Miranda, flabbergasted, denies any knowledge of such events, but Paulina is determined to have her revenge. The uncertain Gerardo finds himself caught in the middle, forced to decide if his wife is telling the truth or reacting irrationally due to her past trauma. The confrontation and shifts in power between the three inevitably raises issues of justice and revenge, especially in relationship to the punishment of war criminals.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Widescreen version; Dolby Digital Stereo; English subtitles and captions; Original theatrical trailer; DVD-ROM enabled
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Karl Williams
Although its origin is made too clear by a stage-bound production, this adaptation of an Ariel Dorfman play poses profound ethical and philosophical questions and boasts riveting performances from its cast, representing a highlight in the comeback stage of director Roman Polanski's career. Although this is primarily a three-character piece, Gerardo (Stuart Wilson) is superfluous to a degree, standing in as he does for the audience. Death and the Maiden is really a duet between Paulina (Sigourney Weaver) and Dr. Miranda (Ben Kingsley), and the actors do not disappoint, navigating the peaks and valleys of an emotional roller-coaster ride. A monument to anger and pain, Weaver is electrifying, while Kingsley convincingly portrays lethal cunning as a man literally thinking for his life. If the film has a flaw, it's the visually static aspects of the storytelling. Polanski should have sought more visual ways to open up the play's action (a climactic scene atop a bluff is a welcome relief from the confining one-room setting), but this is a small quibble. Just as a documentary can be compelling as nothing more than a series of talking heads as long as those heads are saying something interesting, so too can a play adaptation work grandly in cinematic form when the source material is this richly rewarding.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/3/2003
  • UPC: 794043635120
  • Original Release: 1994
  • Rating:

  • Source: New Line Home Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:43:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Sigourney Weaver Paulina Escobar
Ben Kingsley Dr. Roberto Miranda
Stuart Wilson Gerardo Escobar
Carlos Moreno String Quartet Player #3
Technical Credits
Roman Polanski Director
Jane Barclay Executive Producer
Daniel Brisseau Sound/Sound Designer
Milena Canonero Costumes/Costume Designer
Michel Cheyko Asst. Director
Tonino Delli Colli Cinematographer
Hervé de Luze Editor
Linda de Vetta Makeup
Ariel Dorfman Co-producer, Screenwriter
Pierre Guffroy Production Designer
Sharon Harel Executive Producer
Wojciech Kilar Score Composer
Josh Kramer Producer
Claude Moesching Art Director
Thom Mount Producer
Gladys Nederlander Associate Producer
Patsy Pollock Casting
Mary Selway Casting
Bonnie Timmermann Co-producer
Rafael Yglesias Screenwriter
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Main Titles [1:49]
2. In the News [3:21]
3. Geniuses Do Dumb Things [6:37]
4. Should Have Said No [3:33]
5. The Friendly Midnight Knock [4:38]
6. Stealing Away [7:05]
7. Drinking and the Female Soul [4:49]
8. Knocked Out and Tied Up [5:47]
9. Unrecognizable History [2:33]
10. Her Favorite Composer [5:03]
11. Due Process, a Good Defense [4:22]
12. The Charges [3:00]
13. "I Told You Nothing" [8:42]
14. The Power of Gratitude [2:12]
15. Bathroom Break [2:56]
16. The Phone Is Working [3:15]
17. "Did You Love Her?" [5:21]
18. The Day of the Arrest [3:06]
19. A "Genuine" Confession [1:40]
20. One Phone Call [7:43]
21. The True Story [4:12]
22. The Concert/End Credits [6:40]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Set-Up Options
      English Subtitles On
      English Subtitles Off
   Select a Scene
   Trailers
      Death and the Maiden Theatrical Trailer
      Bitter Moon Theatrical Trailer
      Invincible Theatrical Trailer
      Storytelling Theatrical Trailer
      Human Nature Theatrical Trailer
   DVD-ROM/Online Features
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