The Atacama desert sky is so clear that scientists can see out into the universe. It is also a place where the heat preserves human remains. As astronomers gather in search of alien life, so do a group of women, digging for their relatives who disappeared under Chile’s dictatorship.
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The idea that a barren patch of desert in Chile might be the place from which to approach our ultimate cosmic origins as well a place from which to force ourselves to accept the impossibility of reconciling our very recent history is sad and profound. We don't have to look back very far before we get lost, like the women wandering the expanse, searching for fragments of human bone. Powerfully explicated.
I came across this doc as part of my research into the films of Lav Diaz. Guzmán speaks about a painful part of history, and the never-ending struggle of relatives of desaparecidos to come to terms with events under dictatorship. A remarkable and meditative doc on what it means to search for the truth.
It speaks the truth. Most of Latin America is stuck in the past. Reliving torments and wars. Hardly ever does anyone think of Latin America and think of the future. Some examples come to mind: Brazil. But only in terms of unexploited resources, and at the expense environmental tragedy. Latin Americans think of the past because it's all we've ever known. Looking forward, however painful letting go, should be our goal.
A film which reminds us that there is no "natural", natural history; we live in a world where earth and bone are one, and tragedy imbues, even comes to define, our supposedly objective scientific studies. An out-and-out masterpiece.
An exquisite essay exploring varieties of archaeology, each tinged with twin melancholies: both of the past's irretrievability and of our inability to live anywhere but within it. Though the film ravishes, it refuses to vanish into ethereality, but grounds us in its sad, central irony: the contrast between our fascination with the depths of time and space and our reticence or refusal to honestly face the recent past.
What reminder of how cinema can truly affect you. I was pretty close to tears by the film's end. It's been so long since I've been this emotionally wrecked by a film. Critics tend to toss phrases like "profound meditation on life" pretty much willy-nilly, but it definitely applies here. This can humble any "profound" thoughts you might be thinking. I'm convinced that this might be one of the greatest films ever made.
An introspective and often times ethereal vision of concurrent aspects of Chilean life. From a purely cinematic sense, the philosophical focus on astronomy is more intriguing, but the emotional weight of the Pinochet history keeps the film grounded from its dreamy flirtations with the abstract.
The sad beauty of the subject is undermined by the tedious and overused documentary structure of the film that is a bane of this type of cinema – cuts to talking head interviews in cramped rooms, static establishing shots – completely inappropriate for the subject. That it’s about such tragic subject matter makes me guilty for finding it dull, but the poor technical production is unjustifiable.