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Boxing Helena

original movie poster
Directed by Jennifer Lynch
Produced by Philippe Caland
Written by Philippe Caland (story)
Jennifer Lynch
Starring Sherilyn Fenn
Julian Sands
Bill Paxton
Kurtwood Smith
Art Garfunkel
Music by Graeme Revell
Cinematography Bojan Bazelli
Frank Byers
Editing by David Finfer
Distributed by Orion Pictures
Release date(s) United Kingdom:
June 18, 1993
United States:
September 3, 1993
Running time 107 min
Country United States
Language English
Gross revenue $1,796,389

Boxing Helena is the 1993 debut feature film by Jennifer Lynch, daughter of David Lynch. The film stars Julian Sands and Sherilyn Fenn as the eponymous Helena.




Nick Cavanaugh (Sands) is a lonely Atlanta surgeon obsessed with a girl named Helena (Fenn). After she is injured in a grievous hit-and-run motor vehicle accident in front of his home, he kidnaps and treats her in his house surreptitiously, amputating both of her legs. Later, he amputates her healthy arms as well.

Though Helena is the victim of Nick's kidnapping and mutilation, she dominates the dialogue with her constant emasculating ridicule of him for all of his shortcomings.


After some time living together she becomes lonely and returns his affection. However, at the end it is revealed that everything since the accident was a dream. In the reality of the movie, Nick took Helena to the hospital, where she was successfully operated on, apparently without the loss of any limb.


Critical reaction

The film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. However, the media critically mauled it on its release. Helena is also remembered for the legal battle that ensued when first Madonna[1], then Kim Basinger backed out of the title role—eventually Basinger was the subject of an adverse jury verdict for over eight million dollars.[2][3] This caused Basinger to enter bankruptcy, although the verdict was set aside on appeal in 1994.[4] The film also won for "Worst Director" for Lynch from the Golden Raspberry Awards.


The music played during the scene where Helena showers in a fountain, while a party crowd watches was originally scored by the film's composer, Graeme Revell, based on the "Love Theme" used sparsely elsewhere in the movie, with vocals by Bobbi Page. At the producers' request, "The Fountain Song" replaced Revell's score in the original movie-release and the DVD. It was written and performed by Wendy Levy.


  • Fenn had previously worked with Lynch's father, David Lynch, in a small role in Wild at Heart (1990) and cult-status TV series Twin Peaks (1990-91) as femme fatale Audrey Horne.
  • Much of the film was filmed in the Atlanta mansion of famed defense attorney Ed Garland.
  • The Misfits song "Helena" chronicles this story, and opens with the lyric "If I cut off your arms and cut off your legs, would you still love me anyway?" continuing in the same vein.[5]

See also


External links

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