Gripping psychological thriller with Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley and Stuart Wilson by film veteran Roman Polanski.
Roman Polanski has turned Ariel Dorfman’s successful play Death and the Maiden into a gripping psychological thriller. One stormy night, the successful lawyer Gerardo arrives soaking and exhausted at his remote beach house. His car has had a flat tyre but fortunately a passer by has come to his aid. Gerardo’s beautiful wife Paulina greets him in her characteristically cynical way. Fifteen years earlier she had been arrested, raped and tortured by a military junta. She never came to terms with the experience and lives on the verge of hysteria in perpetual fear. Paulina’s past was always a topic the couple avoided in conversation. Until this night. Because when the stranger, Dr Miranda, comes round to bring Gerardo’s flat type, the panic-stricken Paulina recognizes his voice: he was the man who raped her all those years ago. When she has herself back under control, she accuses him and ties him to a chair. She forces her husband to be defense attorney for Dr Miranda in a trial to decide whether her rapist will live. –IFFR
The son of a Polish Jew and a Russian immigrant, Polanski was born in Paris on August 18, 1933. When he was three, his family moved to the Polish town of Krakow, an unfortunate decision given that the Germans invaded the city in 1940. Things went from bad to worse with the formation of Krakow’s Jewish ghetto, and Polanski’s family was the target of further persecution when his parents were deported to a concentration camp. Just before he was to be taken away, however, Polanski’s father helped his son escape, and the boy managed to survive with help from kindly Catholic families, although he was at times forced to fend for himself. (At one point, the Germans decided to use Polanski for idle target practice.) It was during this period that Polanski became a devoted cinephile, seeking refuge in movie houses whenever possible. Shortly after sustaining serious injuries in an explosion, Polanski learned of his mother’s death at Auschwitz. His father survived the camps, and moved back to Krakow… read more
polanski said it was the film that was the most painful for him to make. however painful it may have been, the result is superb. when i first saw it, of course the total lack of eroticism or sensuality when sigourney weaver takes of her panties and put it in ben kingsley's mouth was so shocking i nearly couldn't continue to watch. a brilliant scene.
***1/2. Even if Roman Polanski didn't (officially) co-write the screenplay, it's really unsettling to notice how the film looks like a KNIFE IN THE WATER older brother : three people in a boat becomes three people in a cabin. Now, if you can forget that none of the characters looks South American (I know, it's maybe deliberate in order to give a universal dimension to the film but I doubt it) and if you can bear the huge symbolic role of water (you know, it washes your hands AND your conscience) in the film, you may appreciate, like me, this in camera adaptation of a stage play. Recommended.
During a dictatorship in an unnamed latin american country, Paulina (Sigourney Weaver) was a dissident activist who was tortured in horrible ways and kept alive in order to confess the names of her… read review
Roman Polanski has always appeared to me as director who utilizes large casts and set pieces. Not quite a crafter of epics, but big pictures nonetheless. Sure his first film, Knife in the Water, was… read review