Both figuratively and literally, Patricio Guzmán’s new documentary represents an excavation, beginning with the filmmaker chipping away at the dried paint that covers decades-old wall murals made by artists in the 1960s and 1970s. Guzmán, who smuggled film stock out of his native Chile shortly after the 1973 coup d’état that left the country’s president Salvador Allende dead, is hell bent on reassessing the life and times of Allende. Some of the flabbergasting archival footage that figures into the film appeared earlier in Guzmán’s legendary, three-part The Battle of Chile, only now the focus is specifically on the rise of Allende’s political career and courtship of Chili’s people rather than the country’s complex socio-political character at the time. Guzmán clearly sympathizes with Allende’s socialist chutzpah, mingling new talking-head interviews with his archival treasures, telling Allende’s story in a snappy, cinematic manner. The documentary reflects on the former Chilean president’s political tactics, allegiances, and difficulties with foreign powers, but it is ultimately less effective as a portrait of Allende than it is as a commentary on the documentary medium itself—art as a means of resuscitating history.
- First Run/Icarus Films
- 100 min
- Patricio Guzmán
- Patricio Guzmán
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