The Kiss of the Spiderwoman


'...what this world offers the struggle.’....
-Internet Movie Data Base *

In this life, men are born with different coping mechanisms when it comes to dealing with the harshness of reality that we call life. Some men opt to escape and immerse themselves into their self-created fantasy of a world while others choose to stay behind and battle on. One can never tell which method is right or wrong because it really depends on the person’s preferences. This is what the film “The Kiss Of the Spider Woman” tried to convey.

The 1985 film that was based on Manuel Puig’s novel of the same title (Spanish: El Beso de la Mujer Araña) dealt with men’s constant battle between reality and fantasy. The two characters, Molina and Arregui represented two ends of the spectrum, each with their own reasons why their side is better than the other. As the story progressed, we can see the gradual change in each of the two characters as both influenced the other. Molina, who represented escapist fantasy, eventually learned to “spin the spider web that he has kept to himself for the longest time and interweave it with others” and Arregui who represented harsh reality found himself pining away in his own fantasy symbolized by his death and reunion with Marta.

The film tried to show the contrast between fantasy and reality so strongly that the viewers cannot help but be captivated with the plot as Molina relates the story of his life through the film. Although set in  a very small prison cell, the characters in the movie were able to explore the wonders of humanity and the imperfections that each person possesses through the narrated  stories that tried to explain each character’s personality. 
The imagery of the film was quite convincing. The use of the “movie within a movie” tactics made it even more effective in conveying the message because it exemplified the central theme through the juxtaposition of reality (i.e., the prison cell) and fantasy (i.e., black-and-white movie). Moreover, the movie was able to show what Molina really felt through the use of Leni and the Spider Woman. He was indeed a woman trapped in the body of a man, bound by society and his own restraints. The spider woman represented Molina being trapped in his own web of fantasies and the former’s escape was Molina’s redemption from the strings that stopped him from discovering a greater sense of purpose in life, which perhaps was the joining in the resistance outside. The softening of Arregui’s resolve on the other hand, was a product of his interaction with Molina. He was able to see the relevance of leaving the real world behind at some time and immersing himself to a self-made reality where all struggles do not exist and happiness is the only known emotion.
The film moves in a very slow pace, carefully sending the message to the viewers that the answer is not really choosing one over the other but learning to strike a balance between the two and knowing when to use which depending on the situation presented. Too much of each option may have harmful effects. Too much of reality may make you a cynic and hopeless that may lead to your destruction while too much of fantasy may eventually lead you to helplessness. 

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