The film Winona Ryder called a “masterpiece”
(Credit: Netflix)


The film Winona Ryder called a "masterpiece"

If you did not grow up in the fabulous 1990s, you wouldn’t know that Winona Ryder has always been a pure vibe—the kind you resonate with and radiate towards. 

She was the It girl as well as the alt one. Ryder’s career being resurrected with the Netflix hit Stranger Things was a pleasant byproduct for all her fans. We not only love watching her fight demogorgons on the down-low but also look forward to her interviews.

In an interaction with Netflix, the cast of Stranger Things shared intriguing insights into their cinematic preferences. Among the questions posed was one that posed this scenario: “Movie I wish I could go back and see for the first time again.”

While Sadie Sink and Caleb McLaughlin went with more contemporary films like Inception and Shutter Island, Ryder promptly responded with “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” 

She went on to explain why she chose the 1985 Héctor Babenco film from a screenplay by Leonard Schrader, “I love the way they told the story, which is set in one prison cell, but the imagination tells this whole other…it’s just a masterpiece.”

The film is based on Manuel Puig’s novel of the same name. It takes viewers on a journey into the lives of two disparate cellmates sharing a Brazilian prison cell during a tumultuous era in the country’s history. 

Raul Julia portrayed a staunch leftist revolutionary, Valentin Arregui, while William Hurt delivered a captivating performance as the sketchy fellow prisoner, Luis Molina. Their stark differences melt away as the film progresses, leaving behind a deep and complex bond that forms the crux of the story. The film also features Sônia Braga as Marta, aka, the Spider Woman.

One of the most innovative aspects of the film is its metafictional approach. The story uses the “film within a film” concept, where Hurt’s character narrates the plot of a fictitious movie, Her Real Glory, produced in Nazi Germany during World War II. This narrative layering adds depth to the characters’ experiences and mirrors their own struggles and aspirations. As the lines blur between reality and the cinematic tale, viewers are invited to explore the intricate connections between the characters’ lives and the stories they tell.

Originally set in Argentina, the story was relocated to Brazil, infusing it with the political nuances of the Brazilian military dictatorship of the time. This context serves as more than just a backdrop; it becomes a character in itself, influencing the characters’ choices and actions and deepening the socio-political undertones of the existing story.

Kiss of the Spider Woman made its debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 1985, where Hurt’s exceptional performance earned him the coveted Best Actor award, and Babenco’s direction garnered a nomination for the esteemed Palme d’Or. The film’s critical acclaim echoed on an international scale, and it left a mark at the Academy Awards. Hurt’s portrayal earned him the Oscar and BAFTA for ‘Best Actor’, while the film received additional nominations for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’, and ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’.