- Rated: R
- Closed captioning available
- Run Time: 1 hours, 42 minutes
- Video: Color
- Released: June 3, 2003
- Originally Released: 1995
- Label: New Line Home Video
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Packaging: Snap Case
- Aspect Ratio: Full Frame - 1.33
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Rolling Stone - 01/26/1995
"...Roman Polanski restores the play to the pulse-pounding political thriller it is. His electrifying film nearly jumps off the screen..."
New York Times - 12/23/1994
"...[A] triumph....[Polanski turns it] into a harrowing experience....Weaver is sternly terrific..."
Entertainment Weekly - 02/03/1995
"...Riveting....One of the most honest --and poetic -- reckonings of human evil in modern movies..." -- Rating: A-
Sight and Sound - 04/01/1995
"...[Weaver's] gestures and actions command the screen as resolutely here as they did in ALIEN or ALIENS..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 01/13/1995
"...DEATH AND THE MAIDEN is all about acting....Kingsley makes it come alive with his insinuating performance..."
Roman Polanski's suspenseful drama is based on a play by Ariel Dorfman, who also cowrote the screenplay. The movie takes place in an unspecified South American country after the recent fall of the dictatorship. Paulina Escobar (Sigourney Weaver) is a former political activist and torture victim. Her husband, Gerardo (Stuart Wilson), a respected lawyer, has just been appointed to head a commission on human rights violations under the old regime, though Paulina, suffering from severe psychological trauma ever since her arrest, objects to what she perceives as a sham investigation. The couple receives an unexpected visitor one stormy night when an affable stranger, Dr. Miranda (Ben Kingsley), drops Gerardo off at the Escobars' isolated house after his car breaks down. Paulina believes she recognizes the man's voice as belonging to the doctor who supervised her torture and raped her on several occasions while she was blindfolded and strapped to a table. In spite of her husband's objections, she decides to take Miranda prisoner, threatening him with a gun, determined to get a taped confession from him at any cost. Under Polanski's keen direction, Dorfman's three-character play is successfully transformed into a captivating film that loses neither dramatic tension nor momentum along the way.
When a woman's husband brings home a man whose car has broken down, she slowly realizes that the stranger might be a man who had terrorized her in the past.
Family Interaction |
Prison / Prisoners |
Stage Play |
Theatrical Release |
- Theatrical release: January 13, 1995.
- The play on which the film is based was originally produced on Broadway in 1992 starring Glenn Close as Paulina Escobar, Richard Dreyfuss as her husband, and Gene Hackman as Dr. Miranda.
- DEATH AND THE MAIDEN represents one of the rare cases in which Polanski did not act as a contributing screenwriter in addition to directing. (CHINATOWN is another, although he did make uncredited script alterations.
- Music: "String Quartet no. 14 in D Minor" (Death and the Maiden) by Franz Schubert, performed by the Amadeus Quartet.
- The unnamed South American country where the play is based might be Chile, native land of playwright Ariel Dorfman.