Death and the Maiden (film)
Death and the Maiden is a 1994 mystery drama film directed by Roman Polanski and starring Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley and Stuart Wilson. It was based on the play of the same name by Ariel Dorfman, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Rafael Yglesias.
|Death and the Maiden|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roman Polanski|
|Produced by||Josh Kramer|
|Screenplay by||Ariel Dorfman|
|Based on||Death and the Maiden|
by Ariel Dorfman
|Music by||Wojciech Kilar|
|Cinematography||Tonino Delli Colli|
|Edited by||Hervé de Luze|
|Distributed by||Fine Line Features|
|December 23, 1994|
Paulina Escobar (Weaver) is a housewife married to a prominent lawyer in an unnamed South American country. One day a storm forces her husband Gerardo (Wilson) to ride home with a charming stranger. She is convinced that the stranger, Dr. Miranda (Kingsley), was part of the old regime and that he tortured and raped her for weeks while she was blindfolded. Paulina takes him captive to determine the truth. Despite attempts by both her husband and Miranda to convince her that he is innocent, Paulina is certain that he is the one, and forces her husband to be Miranda's "attorney" in the "trial" she arranges for him.
Miranda conspires with Gerardo to agree to a false confession (as Paulina states that this is all that she wants in exchange for his life), so they write one up and present it to Paulina. Enraged, Paulina deems Miranda as being unrepentant, and threatens to kill him. As Gerardo tries to stop her, Miranda succeeds in getting Paulina's gun, and threatens to kill her if he is not freed. As he advances toward the door, Paulina hits him and after a struggle gets back in control. In a last-ditch effort to save his life, Miranda implores Gerardo to call the Spanish medical school where he claims to have been at the time of Paulina's rape, as she leads him blindfolded out the door to the edge of the cliff. Gerardo contacts the school, where Miranda's colleague seems to confirm the story. He races to inform Paulina, at last convinced that Miranda is innocent. Paulina refuses to believe it, however, saying that the doctors at that time created alibis in order to conceal their identities. Accepting defeat, Miranda finally tells them that he really was the doctor, that he enjoyed brutalizing Paulina, and that he was sorry that the old regime fell.
Enraged, Gerardo attempts to throw Miranda from the cliff, only to realize he cannot bring himself to take a life. Paulina apparently accepts the confession, and they both leave Miranda on the cliff as he stares down at the water. The camera simulates someone falling off the cliff as seen from his own point of view. In the final scene, Paulina and Gerardo are at the same concert where the film began with Miranda also present, looking down with his wife and sons. Paulina and Miranda cast uncomfortable glances at each other, and look away. Miranda glances down at the couple again as the camera shows Gerardo glancing up towards the balcony at the now off-screen Miranda.
Death and the Maiden received positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an 84% "certified fresh" rating based on 48 reviews.