Mrs. Soffel

Director: Gillian Armstrong
Screenwriters: Ron Nyswaner

Institute History

  • 1985 Sundance Film Festival


With the current resurgence of Australian cinema a number of its key directors have come to work in the United States, including Gillian Armstrong, director of My Brilliant Career and Starstruck. Her new film, Mrs. Soffel, is based on a real incident set in turn-of-the-century America but it nevertheless has strong affinities to Australian cinema in terms of theme, character, as well as the presence of actor Mel Gibson. In 1902 Katherine Soffel (Diane Keaton), mother of four and wife of the warden of Allegheny County Jail, fell in love with a condemned killer Ed Briddle (Mel Gibson) and subsequently helped him escape from prison. The contrast in background and personality between the demure Mrs. Soffel and the notorious killer brought the case national attention. But one question was never thoroughly answered: Why did Mrs. Soffel, expressing a genuine concern for mankind coupled with the inner sadness of sexual repression.

Screening Details

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