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Death And The Maiden - Film Vs Essay

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The Polanski film Death and the Maiden is a wonderful and intelligent interpretation of Ariel Dorfman’s human rights problem play. Polanski has produced, in this film, an exceptional piece of direction, in which his own personal, emotional input is evident. The main theme of the play is an extremely personal one for both playwright (and scriptwriter) and director. Both Dorfman and Polanski have had to face and flee the horrors of dictatorship and human rights violations: Dorfman in Chile, under General Augusto Pinochet, and Polanski in Poland under the Nazis. But despite this similarity in past experience, significant differences exist between the original play and the film. Apart from the specific techniques of lighting and…show more content…
In the surreal, dim lighting of her bedroom Paulina is shaken by a strangely disturbing laugh upon recognising Roberto Miranda’s voice as that of her tormentor. This moment sees the birth or manifestation of another facet of Paulina’s character, the part of Paulina’s mind that fantasized about doing to her torturers what they had done to her. This is the unbelievably unreasonable Paulina; she is a Fury, a mythical deity, the embodiment of vengeance, unsusceptible to male logic or opportunistic, careerist rationalisation. Polanski makes Paulina throw the car over the cliff-edge. In doing this she is not only destroying a phallic symbol, and thus undermining Roberto’s sexuality and any claims he has on sexual dominance or superiority, she is destroying a perfect symbol of the male thirst for power and control, and the pragmatic logic to which her need for revenge has been sacrificed, into the infinite, chaotic abyss that defies all these principles, and unquestionably swallows it up. In doing this she breaks the railing, civilized society has created to guard itself from that chaos, allowing those forces of suppressed rage to escape. Polanski’s Paulina re-enters the house, a different person. Illuminated by typically horror-movie-style lighting. Her sharply focused face – lit by an almost electric blue with harsh shadows cast across it, highlighting her
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