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Death and the Maiden (1995)

Sigourney Weaver , Ben Kingsley , Roman Polanski  |  R |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Stuart Wilson, Krystia Mova, Jonathan Vega
  • Directors: Roman Polanski
  • Writers: Ariel Dorfman, Rafael Yglesias
  • Producers: Ariel Dorfman, Bonnie Timmermann, Gladys Nederlander, Jane Barclay, Jean-François Lepetit
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: New Line Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 3, 2003
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008YLV8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,911 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Death and the Maiden" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
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.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Weaving the Maiden's Tale October 16, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
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?
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
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.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
a nameless South American country. During the reign of a recently deposed dictatorship, she had been tortured and raped. Gerardo (Stuart Wilson), her husband, has been appointed to head a commission that will investigate the atrocities of the previous regime, but they are looking at only those cases that resulted in death. Being raped and tortured is not enough to receive justice. But then one day, Fate intervenes. Gerardo is given a ride home by a stranger, Robert Miranda (Ben Kingsley), a local doctor. Suddenly, in her own home, Paullina, who had been blindfolded during her torture, recognizes the voice of her main torturer. Instantly, Paulina knows it is time for payback. She ties up Miranda, stuffs her panties in his mouth, and begins a long attempt to make him confess.
"Death and the Maiden" tries to play up the ambiguities of Miranda's character. After all, perhaps Paulina is mistaken. But Robert Polanski is directing this film, adapted from Ariel Dorman's stage play, and the director's voyeuristic instincts are not going to work in a story that leaves room for doubt. As an audience we are caught up not only in what Paulina is doing to strip away Miranda's mask, but in the revelations of what happened to her in the past. But what is past is prologue, and it is the way Paulina strips away the layers from her tormenter, turning the lies into denials before finally giving way to the truth, that makes this film more than a sadomasochistic story. This is because however stagy and contrived the script might be, the performances by Weaver and Kinglsey elevate the story. When you finish watching this film you wonder what besides some stupid concert for political correctness kept these two from being nominated for Oscars.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Story about Torture: the victim, the perpetrator and the...
The film is excellent; acting is excellent. The very best thing about this story by Ariel Dorfman is the opportunity he gives you to see all sides of the situation--the victim of... Read more
Published 2 days ago by D. J.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved it! Very intense and great acting by Sigourney!
Published 10 days ago by Monica Godinez-Avitia
5.0 out of 5 stars Believe it ...or not!
This was a story when a woman who had been challenged by being raped and violated to the extreme got a chance for revenge. Read more
Published 4 months ago by jordyn skye
5.0 out of 5 stars The acting is superb.
The acting is superb. Don't miss Ben Kingsley's speech at the end. It is absolutely astonishing. All three of the performances are riveting.
Published 5 months ago by le fay
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling and terrifying
An extremely serious film that is full of psychological tension from beginning to end. Weaver's performance as a former torture victim in South America is flawless. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mark A. Biernbaum
5.0 out of 5 stars THRILLER EXTRORDINARE
This Movie is a must for a Collector like myself, Intense & Intelligent, Proud to have it in my Library. Thank you.
Published 8 months ago by Peggy Shelton
5.0 out of 5 stars High suspense movie
we have the CD now. It is intriguing and suspenseful. No dull moment. Sigourney Weaver played the victim of a cruel and ugly doctor to a tee. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Charles Transue
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
A very good and decent movie.

It is a nice buy and interesting story.

Will recommend to people to buy.
Published 10 months ago by Hassan Ur Rehman
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
All you have to do is look at the credits to know this movie is going to be special. Sigourney Weaver is brilliant! Read more
Published 10 months ago by Susan Stade-Bergstrom
5.0 out of 5 stars HAUNTED me for days
This film is tense, exciting, harrowing and truly haunting. Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley give top-notch performances in this disturbing, yet hypnotic tale. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Kelly
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