Though Patricio Guzmán’s The Pinochet Case contemplates the crimes Chile’s ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet may or may not have commanded, this no-frills package’s main gripe is with a disturbing game of cat-and-mouse that pits humanity against curious legal processes. Pinochet overthrew president Salvador Allende in 1973 and ruled Chile for 13 years, during which time hundreds of Chileans “disappeared” or were ruthlessly tortured. Many of Pinochet’s surviving victims, mostly women, share their tales of horror in this workman-like documentary. While Guzmán frustratingly refuses to give Pinochet’s crimes a political context, his distance from the material is mostly admirable. Even when Margaret Thatcher has tea with Pinochet in his exiled London home, Guzmán allows ex-prime minister’s odiousness to speak for itself. While many Chilean officials acknowledge the horrors committed during Pinochet’s rule, prosecution has proved difficult due to the April 1978 amnesty the Chilean military granted itself for the crimes it committed. That this guaranteed impunity still holds any water is just one of the many hypocrisies Guzmán details. A group of Spaniards discovered a legal loophole that allowed British authorities to arrest Pinochet as he recovered from sensitive surgery at a London clinic. Though a senior judicial official in the United Kingdom was biased against Pinochet, he still heard the dictator’s case; the ruling against Pinochet was later overturned when the British lord’s bias was discovered. A gripping legal thriller, The Pinochet Case forces discussion on issues of bad faith, self-interest and the limits of the law, both national and international.
- First Run/Icacus Films
- 110 min
- Patricio Guzmán
- Patricio Guzmán
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