The recent events in Chile, culminating in the death of the Marxist President, Salvador Allende Gossens, and the imposition of military rule, lend a special poignancy to an unusual and engrossing new film called “Que Hacer” (“What’s to Be Done”).
Mordant, self-aware, freighted with sensitivity toward Chile’s problem, wary of caricature, disposed toward consciousness of human fallibility, it is a deft blend of fiction and documentary set in the tumultuous days leading up to the election of Dr. Allende in 1970.
Although its bias is clearly pro-Allende—its villains are militant rightists, an American foundation representative who talks about “matrices” and, especially, a mysterious American engineer who is most certainly a C.I.A. man—it leaves unresolved the question of precisely what it means to be a revolutionary.
On the documentary level, “Que Hacer” makes its points about Chile and its problems through the faces and voices of its people, the flimsiness of their hovels and the hardship of their lives, in a landscape possessed of mineral and agricultural riches and studded with the billboards of American industry.
On the fictional level, it delineates political argument through a revolutionary returned from Cuba, a Communist legislator living in luxury, his terrorist son, the American engineer, a revolutionary priest and a girl working for the Peace Corps.
The performances by a cast of unfamiliar faces are restrained and appropriately despairing. The mordant commentary comes from occasional glimpses of the film crew itself and particularly from the presence and singing of Country Joe McDonald.
The work of Saul Landau, who produced this film and served as one of its directors, also includes an earlier, well-received documentary on Fidel Castro. “Que Hacer” will remind some audiences of the Costa-Gavras films, “Z” and “State of Siege,” although it is less blatantly emotional.
It shares the bill with a 30-minute documentary interview with Dr. Allende, with Mr. Landau asking the questions. History will render its eventual judgment, but at least in this film, Dr. Allende emerges as a compassionate leader who “thought that man should have a different dimension.” —New York Times
Chilean filmmaker Raúl, or Raoul, Ruiz (1941-2011) was one of the most exciting and innovative filmmakers to emerge from 1960s World Cinema, providing more intellectual fun and artistic experimentation, shot for shot, than any filmmaker since Jean-Luc Godard. A guerrilla who uncompromisingly assaulted the preconceptions of film art, this frightfully prolific figure – he made over 100 films in 40 years – did not adhere to any one style of filmmaking. He worked in 35mm, 16mm and video, for theatrical release and for European TV, and on documentary and fiction features and shorts. His career began in avant-garde theatre where, between 1956 and 1962, he wrote over 100 plays. Although he never directed any of these productions, he did dabble in TV and filmmaking in the early 1960s. In 1968, with the release of his first completed feature, the Cassavetes-like Tres tristes tigres (1968… read more