The Battle of Chile is a documentary film in 3 parts, directed by the Chilean Patricio Guzman: The Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie (1975), The Coup d’état (1976), Popular Power (1979). It is a chronicle of the political tension in Chile in 1973 and of the violent counter revolution against the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. It won the Grand Prix in 1975 and 1976 at the Grenoble International Film Festival. The film opens in March 1973 with reporters asking people how they intend to vote in the coming congressional election. The election is taking place after Allende has been in office for over two years and has been trying to reorganise society along democratic socialist lines. His Popular Unity coalition was put into office with only a third of the popular vote. His efforts to nationalize certain industries have met with internal and foreign opposition, and Chile is suffering economic deprivations. (Narration is provided in English – a source of criticism in The New Yorker review of the film by Pauline Kael – " The film seems to give us only the public actions – and none of the inner workings. Those are supplied by an English narrator ( a woman) who keeps interpreting for us. There may be considerable truth here, but this kind of thing can drive one a little crazy. She gives us a strict ideological account – in which everything that happens is the result of the imperialists and the industrialists strategy." In the election Allende makes gains , to 43.4 per cent of the votes, though the opposition bloc is strong too, up to 56 per cent. The film has street interviews, speeches, the violent confrontations, the mobs and meetings, the parades with workers chanting. Part One finishes with newsreel footage from a Swedish camerman who was photographing street skirmishes. An Army man takes slow, careful aim and kills the cameraman, and the image spins skyward.
Part Two – The Coup d’état begins with the right wing violence of the summer of 1973 against the government. Army troops seize control of downtown Santiago – but the attempted coup is snuffed out in a few hours. “The film leaps from one group to another..It shows the different elements in the explosive situation with so much clarity that it’s a Marxist tract in which the contradictions of capitalism have sprung to life. We actually see the country cracking open. Step by step, the legal government is overthrown.” Everybody in Chile seems to know the coup d’état is coming and talk about it openly – yet the people who have most to lose can’t get together enough to do anything. Allende’s naval aide-de-camp Arturo Araya is killed, and the camera moves around the funeral attendees – General Pinochet among them. In July , the truck owners, funded by the C.I.A., begin their long strike, which paralyzes the distribution of food, gasoline, and fuel, and there is a call for Allende to resign. Instead Allende holds a rally – around 800,000 people arrive, but they have no weapons. On September 11, the Navy institutes the coup d’état, and the Air Force bombs the state radio station. The palace is bombarded from the air. And then the chiefs of the junta on television are seen announcing they’ll return the country to order after three years of Marxist cancer. —wikipedia
Patricio Guzmán is born in 1941 in Santiago, Chile. He attends the Official Cinematography School in Madrid, where he dedicates his studies to documentary film. His films are regularly selected and awarded prizes at international festivals. In 1973 he films “The Battle of Chile”, a 5-hour documentary on the end of Allende’s government. The magazine CINEASTE nominates it as “one of the ten best political films in the world”. After the military coup, Guzmán is threatened to be executed and spends two weeks arrested inside the national stadium, unable to communicate his whereabouts to anyone. He leaves the country in November 1973. He lives in Cuba, Spain and then France, where he makes “In the Name of God” (Grand Prize, Festival of Popoli, 1987), “The Southern Cross” (Grand Prize, Festival Vue Sur les Docs, Marseille, 1992), “Chile, Obstinate Memory” (Grand Prize Festival of Tel Aviv, 1999), “The Pinochet Case” (International Critic’s Week, Cannes, 2002), and “Salvador Allende” (Official… read more
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