Los Angeles Times - 01/19/1990
"...It's an intelligent, ambitious work, with a deep, resonant political subject....There are flashes of brilliance throughout the entire cast..."
A Hungarian immigrant has been accused of heinous war crimes committed more than 50 years ago. His daughter agrees to defend him, hoping to prove his innocence not only to the court, but to herself as well. Academy Award Nominations: Best Actress--Jessica Lange.
Attorney Ann Talbot defends her beloved Hungarian father when he faces deportation as an alleged Nazi war criminal. Initially confident of her father's innocence, Ann must search for the truth as her faith is shaken by the evidence against him.
Family Interaction |
Law / Lawyers |
Theatrical Release |
Screenwriter Joe Eszterhas is a native Hungarian who emigrated to the US when he was six. He based "Music Box" on his memories of growing up in the post-Holocaust years. He says that, "You have no idea how terrible it is to discover that your own people did these horrendous things, to learn that even after the war was over, the Hungarians were still taking their Jews and dumping them in the Danube." "For my generation of Hungarian kids, the question 'What did you do in the war, daddy'' had potentially nightmarish implications. "The Holocaust in my mind is not a Jewish issue, it's not a religious issue, it's a human issue. I'm not Jewish, but I felt the need to confront what happened there. Only by keeping that memory alive can we create any kind of better society. "We do indeed have a moral and social responsibility to stand up against what's wrong."
Joe Eszterhas has used the basic plot of "Music Box" (woman loves seemingly nice man and must find the truth when it turns out he might be a killer) at least four other times. "Jagged Edge" features a lawyer who falls for her client who might have murdered his wife. "Betrayed" features an FBI agent who falls for a man who might be a neo-Nazi. "Basic Instinct" features a male detective who falls for a woman who might be a serial killer. "Sliver" features a woman who falls for a man who might be a serial killer. Eszterhas says of his favorite plot device, "I'm fascinated by the notion that, in some ways, it's impossible to ever know the people that we love. I have a notion about the compartmentalization of evil. There are people who can make themselves and others believe that they are good people while at the same time committing horrors that would defy the imagination."
Winner of the Golden Bear at the 1990 Berlin Film Festival, where it was shown in competition.
Estimated budget $18 million.
Filmed in Chicago, Illinois, and Budapest, Hungary. Filming began January 25, 1989; completed April 1989. Titles and optical effects by Studios Marchetti.
Released in New York City and Los Angeles December 22, 1989. Wide release in USA January 19, 1990. Released on video June 21, 1990.
Reviewed in Monthly Film Bulletin May 1990.
Rated BBFC 15 by the British Board of Film Censors.