Kiss of the Spider Woman (film)
|Kiss of the Spider Woman|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Héctor Babenco|
|Produced by||Francisco Ramalho Jr.
|Screenplay by||Leonard Schrader|
|Based on||Kiss of the Spider Woman by
|Music by||Nando Cordeiro
|Editing by||Mauro Alice|
|Distributed by||Island Alive|
|Running time||120 minutes|
Kiss of the Spider Woman (Portuguese: O Beijo da Mulher Aranha) is a 1985 Brazilian-American drama film. It was directed by Argentine-born Brazilian director Héctor Babenco, and adapted by Leonard Schrader from the Manuel Puig novel of the same name. William Hurt, Raúl Juliá, Sonia Braga, José Lewgoy, and Milton Gonçalves star in the leading roles.
The film tells of two very different men who share a Brazilian prison cell: Valentin Arregui (Raúl Juliá), who is imprisoned (and has been tortured) due to his activities on behalf of a leftist revolutionary group, and Luis Molina (William Hurt) a homosexual in prison for having sex with an underage boy.
Molina passes the time by recounting memories from one of his favorite films, a wartime romantic thriller that's also a Nazi propaganda film. He weaves the characters into a narrative meant to comfort Arregui and distract him from the harsh realities of political imprisonment and the separation from his lover, Marta (Sonia Braga).
Arregui allows Molina to penetrate some of his defensive self and opens up. Despite Arregui occasionally snapping at Molina over his rather shallow views of political cinema, an unlikely friendship develops between the two.
As the story develops, it becomes clear that Arregui is being poisoned by his jailers to provide Molina with a chance to befriend him, and that Molina is spying on Arregui on behalf of the Brazilian secret police. Molina has namely been promised a parole if he succeeds in obtaining information that will allow the secret police to find the revolutionary group's members.
However, Molina falls in love with Arregui, and Arregui responds after a fashion, culminating in a physical consummation of their love on Molina's last night in prison. Molina is granted parole in the hopes Arregui will reveal information about his contacts when he knows Molina will be out of prison. Arregui provides Molina with a telephone number and message for his comrades. Molina at first refuses to take the number, fearing the consequences of treason, but he relents, and he and Arregui bid farewell with a kiss.
In the final scenes Molina calls the telephone number, and a meeting is arranged with the revolutionary group. But the secret police have had Molina under surveillance, and a gun battle ensues, with the revolutionaries, assuming Molina has betrayed them, shooting him. As he wanders the streets wounded, the policemen catch up with him and demand that he disclose the telephone number in exchange for them taking him to the hospital for treatment, but Molina refuses and succumbs to his wounds. On the orders of the homophobic police chief (Milton Gonçalves), the policemen dump Molina's body in a rubbish pit and fabricate a story about his death and involvement with the revolutionary group.
Meanwhile, back in the prison Arregui is being treated after being tortured once again. As the doctor administers him morphine to help him sleep, risking his job in the process, Arregui escapes into a dream where he is on a tropical island with Marta.
The story features a "movie within a movie," featuring Luis Molina episodically telling Valentin Arregui the plot of a fictional movie called Her Real Glory ostensibly produced in Germany during the Second World War by the Nazis. The "movie within a movie" mirrors the story of Molina and Arregui.
- William Hurt as Luis Molina
- Raúl Juliá as Valentin Arregui
- Sonia Braga as Leni Lamaison/Marta/Spider Woman
- José Lewgoy as Warden
- Milton Gonçalves as Secret Policeman
- Míriam Pires as Mother Molina
- Nuno Leal Maia as Gabriel, Molina's friend
- Fernando Torres as Americo
- Patricio Bisso as Greta
- Herson Capri as Werner, Leni's German lover and Chief of Counter-Intelligence in movie fantasy
- Denise Dumont as Michelle, Leni's best friend in movie fantasy
- Antônio Petrin as Clubfoot, Resistance fighter in movie fantasy
- Wilson Grey as Flunky, Resistance fighter in movie fantasy
- Miguel Falabella as Lieutenant
A Broadway musical Kiss of the Spider Woman, also based on the same story, was produced in 1993.
William Hurt won the Academy Award for Best Actor. The film was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Hurt also won Best Actor at the BAFTA Awards, the 1985 Cannes Film Festival and several other festivals. The film was awarded the inaugural Golden Space Needle award from the Seattle International Film Festival.
- Kiss of the Spider Woman at the Internet Movie Database
- Kiss of the Spider Woman (film) at AllRovi
- Kiss of the Spider Woman (film) at Box Office Mojo
- Kiss of the Spider Woman (film) at Rotten Tomatoes