Death Becomes Her: Wikis


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Death Becomes Her

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Produced by Robert Zemeckis
Written by Martin Donovan
David Koepp
Starring Meryl Streep
Bruce Willis
Goldie Hawn
Editing by Arthur Schmidt
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) July 31, 1992
Running time 104 min.
Language English
Budget $55,000,000
Gross revenue $149,000,000

Death Becomes Her is a 1992 dark comedy film directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep, and Bruce Willis. It won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.



Actress Madeline Ashton (Meryl Streep) and writer Helen Sharp (Goldie Hawn) are long time rivals. Helen's life falls apart when glamorous Madeline steals her fiancé, plastic surgeon Ernest Menville (Bruce Willis), and marries him. Helen becomes an obese, depressed woman and is arrested and placed in a mental institution, where she is consumed by thoughts of revenge against Madeline.

Madeline's career on Broadway ends in 1978, and 14 years later she is still struggling with her fading looks and by-gone acting career. Ernest, now an alcoholic and miserable in his marriage, has been reduced to working as a high-end mortician, restoring the looks of celebrities for their funerals. By this time, Helen has been rehabilitated, and is the successful author of "Forever Young". When Madeline and Helen meet again at Helen's book-signing party, Helen appears miraculously rejuvenated, thin, and youthful.

Madeline, jealous and dumbfounded by Helen (and hurt at having discovered that her young lover is cheating on her) seeks the aid of the mysterious Lisle von Rhoman (Isabella Rossellini), who claims she has discovered the secret of eternal youth. She offers Madeline a magical potion to reverse the process of aging. Lisle then warns Madeline to take perfect care of her new body.

In the meantime, Helen has seduced Ernest and conspired with him to kill Madeline. Before their elaborate plan can be carried out, however, Madeline is pushed down the stairs by Ernest during a heated argument and breaks her neck. Believing her dead, Ernest frantically rushes to phone Helen for advice, while Madeline gets up and puts her head on straight. Amazed, Ernest thinks that her resurrection is a miracle and a sign that they are meant to be together, and uses his mortician skills to repair the damage done to Madeline's body.

Helen, thinking that Madeline is dead, arrives at the house to bury her, but Madeline, very much alive and having overheard their plot against her life, shoots Helen. When Helen, with an enormous shotgun wound in her stomach, reawakens, Madeline guesses correctly that Helen was also a customer of Lisle's. The two undead rivals fight, but fail to do any real damage or even inflict pain upon each other. Finally, the two ladies reconcile their differences and beg Ernest to repair their incredibly damaged bodies. Ernest agrees on the condition that he never see them again after the work is done. However, Madeline and Helen discover that his repairs are only temporary; Madeline and Helen will need Ernest to perform routine maintenance to their bodies forever. They conspire to make Ernest drink the potion as well, knocking him unconscious and taking him to Lisle. Although Lisle makes an impassioned argument for immortality, Ernest refuses the potion, stating that a life lived forever is worthless.

In trying to escape, Ernest finds himself on the roof of the house. While climbing across one of the roofs of the mansion to get to an exit door, he slips after being startled by Madeline and Helen (who followed him upstairs) and his suspenders get caught on the rain gutter, swinging him over an open pit. Horrified that Ernest will die leaving no one with the maintenance experience for their bodies, Madeline and Helen implore one last time that he drink the potion so he will survive his inevitable fall. Ernest refuses again, lets the potion fall, then falls from the gutter and into Lisle's swimming pool, which he survives and escapes the mansion, fleeing town. With Ernest gone and Lisle refusing to allow them back into her house after their mistakes, Helen and Madeline realize, much to their chagrin, that they are now forced to take care of each other...forever.

Thirty-seven years later (2029), Ernest has died. Madeline and Helen attend his funeral, using veils to cover their horribly deteriorated forms. Ernest is eulogized as having lived a good and adventurous life, accomplishing much more in his mortal lifespan than Helen and Madeline are ever likely to do in their self-centered immortality. Helen weeps and in attempt to wipe her eyes she tears out her eyelid. She asks Madeline for a can of spray paint and the two bicker over it. They look up at the priest when he describes Ernest as having attained eternal life and youth through his accomplishments, his good works, and his children and grandchildren who carry on his name. Faced with an alternative concept of immortality, Madeline and Helen mock the priest with Madeline saying "blah blah blah" as they leave.

Outside the church, Helen slips on the missing can and falls into a position which recalls Madeline's earlier predicament: she is teetering at the edge of the church's external staircase, her high heeled shoes wedging her at the edge of the top step. She then begs Madeline for help. Madeline won't help Helen due to the argument over how forgetful she is and Helen falls but at the last minute manages to angrily pull Madeline down with her. Tumbling down another long flight of stairs, the two literally shatter to pieces at the bottom. Helen's tottering, decapitated head then queries, "Do you remember where you parked the car?"


Awards and nominations

Award Role Receiver
Academy Award Best Visual Effects Won
Golden Globe Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical Meryl Streep (Nominated)
Saturn Award Best Actor Bruce Willis (Nominated)
Saturn Award Best Actress Meryl Streep (Nominated)
Saturn Award Best Supporting Actress Isabella Rosellini (Won)
Denton Award Best Actress Meryl Streep (Nominated)

Special effects

Like most of director Robert Zemeckis' films, Death Becomes Her was a technically complex movie to make, and the production had its fair share of mishaps. For example, in a scene where Helen Sharp and Madeline Ashton are battling with shovels, Meryl Streep accidentally scarred Goldie Hawn's face. Streep admitted that she disliked working on a project that focused so heavily on special effects, saying:

My first, my last, my only. I think it's tedious. Whatever concentration you can apply to that kind of comedy is just shredded. You stand there like a piece of machinery — they should get machinery to do it. I loved how it turned out. But it's not fun to act to a lampstand. "Pretend this is Goldie, right here! Uh, no, I'm sorry, Bob, she went off the mark by five centimeters, and now her head won't match her neck!" It was like being at the dentist.[1]


  1. ^ "Depth Becomes Her". Entertainment Weekly.. 2000-03-24.,,275733_4,00.html. Retrieved 2007-01-25.  

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Death Becomes Her is a 1992 dark comedy film starring Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep and Bruce Willis.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Written by Martin Donovan and David Koepp.

Madeline Ashton: Wrinkled, wrinkled little star, hope they never see the scars.

Madeline Ashton: You're dressed, special occasion?

Anna: How about a nice colagen buff instead? Madeline Ashton: A colagen buff? You might as well ask me to wash with soap and water! Anna: I could do your make-up myself Madeline Ashton: Make-up is pointless! It does nothing anymore. Are you even listening to me? Do you even care? You just stand there with your twenty-two year old skin and your tits like rocks and laugh at me.

Madeline Ashton: Oh for Christ's sake ar least lie quickly!

Madeline Ashton: (after seeing herself transformed from drinking the potion) I'm a girl!

Madeline Ashton: Ernest my ass...I can see my ass!

Madeline Ashton: Ernest I'm in the morgue.

Helen Sharp: Oh, ok. If she's not dead you tell her to come down, you tell her to come down here and kiss me on the... Madeline Ashton: Kiss you on the what? Helen Sharp: Mad? Madeline Ashton: Hel...What have you two been plotting down here? Or should I say what else?

Madeline Ashton: And she even payed for the hard-ware, don't you just love it?

Madeline Ashton: (whilst peering through a gaping hole in Helen) You're a fraud Helen a walking lie and I can see right through you.

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