Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990, Sp.) (aka Atame!)

In writer/director Pedro Almodovar's Technicolored, dark, offbeat comedic and unconventional love story (a captor-captive tale) about how monogamy can be a metaphor for power games and chained-up bondage, sometimes accused of depicting the victimization of women via abduction - similar in part to William Wyler's film The Collector (1965) and The Night Porter (1974, It.) - [Note: It was the last film to receive the MPAA's X-rating due to its depiction of forced bondage and rape - however, it was re-rated and released as an NC-17 film]:

  • the release (to "rejoin society") of unstable, moronic, dull-witted, 23 year-old mental patient Ricky (Antonio Banderas), an ex-handyman in psychiatric treatment in modern-day Madrid
  • the character of actress Marina Osorio (Victoria Abril) - an ex-porn star and recovering heroin-junkie addict, seen as disordered, unintelligent, irresponsible, and flighty
  • the image of Ricky outside a candy shop window with the reversed 'O' in the sign positioned over his face - looking like a diver's mask
  • the controversial, memorable and infamous masturbatory bath scene of Marina with a vibrating, wind-up toy frogman-diver that swam straight into her crotch and then proceeded up her chest
  • the scene of Marina's acting as a B-movie star (a film-within-a-film) on the set of crippled, wheelchair-bound, lecherous director Maximo Espejo (Francesco Rabal), who was making his last movie - it was a second-rate Euro- horror spin-off titled The Midnight Phantom (featuring an S&M-like, half-man, half-undead, masked muscle-bound killer); in the scene Marina vanquished the 'phantom' by swinging from a balcony with a rope that strangled him; off-set, Maximo was sexually-obsessed with Marina and would masturbate to her porn films
  • the pair of scenes of Marina and her sister Lola (Loles Leon), Maximo's assistant, urinating on a toilet
  • Ricky's love-sick fixation and obsession with his favorite actress Marina, whom he confronted in her apartment (where he had earlier delivered a heart-shaped box of chocolates) and head-butted her to keep her quiet; he claimed that they had met once before at Lulu's bar for a one-night fling, but she didn't remember him: "We met once a year ago at a bar named Lulu's. Remember? I'd just escaped from the institution. We met by chance at Lulu's. We went to your place and f--ked. You don't remember? I promised to come back and protect you...I'm here to prove it"; he declared his devotion and love: "I'm 23 years old, I have 50,000 pesetas, and I'm alone in the world. I'll try to be a good husband to you and a good father to your children"; she protested: "I'll never love you - ever!"
  • Ricky's abusive, degrading and hostage-taking of Marina so she wouldn't run away - he often mistreated her by gagging and tying her up in an unusual attempt at courtship to win her affection and heart: ("I had to kidnap you so you'd get to know me. I'm sure you'll get to love me as I love you")
  • the sequence of the couple, metaphorically and literally handcuffed together by the wrists and making a late night visit to friendly, single mother dentist-doctor Berta (Maria Barranco) (who offered a joint) with two young babies, and a fornicating pharmacist (Concha Rabal) (with a holster and gun) behind the store's front , to procure strong painkillers for Marina's aching tooth
  • the flamenco-scored ersatz TV commercial, inserted by the director, comparing Nazi-uniformed, hard-working Germans with fun-loving Spaniards in retirement (the former planned smartly and dutifully for their future, while Spaniards were hedonistically tango-dancing and enjoying themselves for the short-term)
  • the in-joke of the constrained Marina using the TV remote control to watch Night of the Living Dead (1968)
  • Marina's gradual loosening of resistance and voluntary submission to being his captive (the Stockholm Syndrome), especially after freshly-wounded Ricky was beaten up by a group of drug dealers led by a female on a Vespa scooter (Rossy De Palma) he had swindled earlier, as he attempted to procure strong painkillers for her; she became maternally nurturing toward him and tended to his serious injuries
  • their intense love-making scene; although in pain, he asserted he could continue: "The only thing the bastards didn't touch was my cock"; during their sweaty and realistic sexual intercourse (seen from various angles, including a kaleidoscopic top view), she suddenly remembered her previous one-night stand with him: ("You said we'd screwed before, and I said I didn't remember. Well, now I remember, perfectly")
Ricky and Marina - Innovative Love-Making Sequence
  • the conclusion's stunning reversal when Marina described to her astonished sister Lola her close and loving association with her kidnapper Ricky; Lola responded: "How can you love a kidnapper who ties you up? You think that's normal? It must be the shock. You can't be that kinky!"; Marina asked to be tied up ("You'd better tie me up. Tie me up"), so she wouldn't be tempted to escape
  • in the ambiguous ending (a subtle variation on the conclusion of The Graduate (1967)), the three drove off together; Marina was at the wheel and on the verge of tears (not sure of their tenuous future), while Ricky and Lola happily sang along to a cassette tape playing the pop song: "Resistiré," or "I Will Resist" - until Lola stopped for a second and glanced at Marina, and asked: "What is it, silly? We get along just fine! Come on, honey" - as they drove off into the sunset

Ricky (Antonio Banderas)

Marina Osorio (Victoria Abril)

Marina's "Beast" Co-Star in Film

Toilet Scenes

Marina as a Hostage-Captive

Badly-Bruised Ricky

Conclusion: (l to r): Lola, Ricky, Marina


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z