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Film / Death and the Maiden

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A 1994 film adaption of the 1990 play La muerte y la doncella written by Ariel Dorfman.

Directed by Roman Polański and starring Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley, Death and the Maiden covers the events of one night, a decade after the revolution in an unnamed South American country. A lawyer brings a neighbor (Kingsley) home in a storm, where the housewife (Weaver) becomes convinced that the neighbor tortured her years ago. The trio deal with the accusations, old memories, and the conflict between revenge and the law over the course of the night.

Has nothing to do with the webcomic of the same name, or that one arc of Batman comics concerning Nyssa al-Ghul. Not to be confused with the artistic motif of the same name.


The movie contains examples of:

  • Blatant Lies: Of course, the Doctor denies everything until the very end.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Paulina didn't report her boyfriend's name while tortured.
  • Kubrick Stare: Sigourney Weaver gives us few.
  • Literary Allusion Title: "Death and the Maiden" is a subject treated in art many times since the Renaissance, but the play also specifically references the poem by Matthias Claudius (original title: Der Tod und das Mädchen), which was scored by Franz Schubert.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Paulina sends Miranda's car off a cliff to fake his death.
  • Minimalist Cast: With the exception of the Bookended scenes at the orchestra hall, the entire film consists of just the three main characters.
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  • Mood Whiplash: The Doctor and Gerardo are drinking and talking about women while Paulina is sending the doctor's car off a cliff.
  • Meaningful Echo: The Doctor always quotes Nietzsche. And it's when Paulina tells him she heard the Doctor often quoting Nietzsche that her husband starts to believe her.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • In-universe. Dr. Miranda used to listen his favorite lied Death and the Maiden while he was raping her.
    • Gerardo and Miranda are fighting during a rock song.