Date: 30 January 2014
Title: Kiss of the Spider Woman
Director: Hector Babenco (Argentine)
Language: English (French Subtitles)
Duration: 120 minutes
Key Actors: Raul Julia, William Hurt, Sonia Braga
Time: 8:00 pm
Location: Mouawad Museum (Beirut, Lebanon)
Link to IMDB: Click Here
YouTube Trailer: Click Here
Roger Ebert: Click Here
Cinema Queer: Click Here
Slant Magazine: Click Here
Chicago Reader: Click Here
Postmodern ENG603 Blog: Click Here
New York Times: Click Here
Review of Manuel Puig's Novel by Suzanne Jill Levine: Click Here
Article by Kimberly Davis in Comparative Literature and Culture: Click Here to Download PDF file
Synopsis: (from Wikipedia)
Kiss of the Spider Woman is a 1985 Brazilian-American drama film 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, who is imprisoned (and has been tortured) due to his activities on behalf of a leftist revolutionary group, and Luis Molina, 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. 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.
Hector Babenco (from Wikipedia)
His father was an Argentine gaucho of Ukrainian origin and his mother was a Polish Jewish immigrant. Babenco lived in Europe from 1964-1968. In 1969, he decided to stay in São Paulo, Brazil permanently. In 1975, he directed his first feature film, King of the Night.
His break-out film was Pixote - A lei do mais fraco (1981) about Brazil's abandoned children. Due to the impressive work of young actor Fernando Ramos da Silva (10 years old at the time), who was discovered in the suburbs of São Paulo, the film was a worldwide success and received numerous international prizes.
In 1994, Babenco fell ill and had to undergo a bone marrow transplant to cure a lymphatic cancer. He has directed some of the most respected American actors in cinema, including: William Hurt, John Lithgow, Raul Julia, Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Tom Berenger, Daryl Hannah, Aidan Quinn, Kathy Bates, and others.