Kiss of the Spider Woman, Collector’s Edition, Blu-ray (1985)

by | Oct 21, 2008 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Kiss of the Spider Woman, Collector’s Edition, Blu-ray (1985)

Starring William Hurt, Raul Julia, Sonia Braga
Director: Hector Babenco
Studio: City Lights [Release date: Oct. 21, 08]
Video: Anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 color, 1080p
Audio: DD 5.1, original DD mono in English plus dubbed French & Spanish
Subtitles: French, Spanish
Extras: “Tangled Web: Making Kiss of the Spider Woman,” Manuel Puig Mini-documentary: The Submissive Woman’s Role, Spider Woman on Broadway: with Hal Prince, John Kandler, Fred Ebb, Chita Rivera, Manuel Puig, Slide Show with commentary: Transition from Novel to Film, Trivia track in English & Spanish; Photo Galleries: over 150 images, Original theatrical trailer
Length: 120 minutes
Rating: *****

This was the first independent film to receive the top four Oscar nominations and it won the Best Actor Oscar for William Hurt.  The main documentary reveals the long struggle to make the film in the first place – everyone involved participated because they wanted to make it and not for financial gain. The fascinating documentary reveals Burt Lancaster’s mysterious obsession with one of the roles, and the huge difficulties the director had in getting the novel’s author to agree to movie rights.

The film’s powerful story  takes place primarily in the dirty cell of a prison in an unnamed Latin-American country with a right-wing dictatorship. Molina (Hurt) is a gay man imprisoned due to immoral behavior, and Valentin (Julia) is a political prisoner. The two men are completely different and at first Valentin – who has been tortured – is unaccepting of Molina, who insists on giving him the scene-by-scene description of a romantic Nazi propaganda movie he once saw – which features Sonia Braga in one of four roles.  The men’s relationship slowly grows, but Molina is being coerced into reporting to the authorities any information Valentin reveals in exchange for an early release. Valentin finally accepts Molina and when released Molina fails to betray him – as his keepers had hoped he would. The pair’s unselfish love transcends sexual preferences, and the story is an analog for right-wing regimes imprisoning both homosexuals and political dissidents, as well as a pean to films and fantasy as an escape from inhumane situations.

 – John Sunier

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