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Kiss of the Spider Woman

October 8, 2010

730. Kiss of the Spider Woman
Directed by Hector Babenco

USA/Brazil, 1985
IMDB | allmovie

Reviewed by Rachel
First viewing


Luis Molina (William Hurt) and Valentin Arregui (Raul Julia) share a cell in a South American prison. Arregui is a political prisoner, while Molina was found guilty of having sex with an underage boy.

Molina deals with prison life by reciting the plots of his favourite films, which both comforts and annoys Arregui. Their relationship begins to intensify just as something is revealed to the audience…

Essential Scene:

Molina continues the story of his favourite movie, which is a romantic thriller but also a Nazi Propaganda film, until Arregui hears a commotion outside the cells. He looks through the bars to see a member of his political group being shoved into a cell with a hood over his head.

Arregui: Murderers. Fascist murderers.

With his temper rising he continues saying those words and starts banging rhythmically on the bars. Other prisoners also start banging and yelling.

A guard walks up to Arregui’s cell and starts to urinate on him.

Arregui: Motherfuckers! Motherfuckers!

Molina: I’ll clean it up.

Arregui: You son of a bitch. They’re killing one of my brothers and what am I doing? Listening to your fucking Nazi movie! Don’t you know anything? Don’t you know what the Nazis did to people? Jews? Marxists? Catholics? Homosexuals?

Molina: Of course I know. What do you take me for, an even dumber broad than I am?

[Arregui grabs Molina and throws him to the floor]

Arregui: You don’t know shit! You wouldn’t know reality if it was stuck up your ass!

Molina: [Sobbing] Why should I think about reality in a stinkhole like this? Why should I get more depressed than I already am?

Arregui: You’re worse than I thought. You just use these movies to jerk yourself off.

Molina: If you don’t stop, I will never speak to you again!

Arregui: Stop crying, you sound just like an old woman!

Molina: [Strokes Arregui’s face] That’s what I am. That’s what I am.

Arregui: What’s this between your legs? Huh? Tell me, lady.

Molina: It’s an accident. If I had the courage I’d cut it off.

Arregui: You’d still be a man. A man in prison. Just like the faggots the Nazis shoved in the ovens!


I’m an idiot. I’ve had this brilliant film on DVD for at least four years and I had never played it.

The reason I typed up so much dialogue for my chosen scene is because Kiss of the Spider Woman is a superbly dialogue-driven film. The idea of having long scenes with two men in a cell sounds dull and arduous but I found it absolutely riveting. So much so that I cared more about the lives of these two men shut in a cell than the conclusion of Molina’s lavish romance story. It’s not a light watch. I was exhausted afterwards but it is worth it to be able to appreciate a film that’s very underrated.

William Hurt won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance, which was the first time an actor won the award for portraying an out homosexual. However both Hurt and Raul Julia give very powerful perfomances, and it is a good opportunity to see Julia as something other than Gomez Addams!

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