Martinez; music: Jorge Arriagada;
Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jacques Bidou;
Icarus Films; 2004-Chile-in English/French Spanish with
"It's a solid no-nonsense documentary."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzmán ("The
Battle of Chile"/"Nostalgia for the Light"/"The Pinochet Case")
returns to Chile some
30 years after the overthrow of the Popular Unity leader
Salvador Allende and directs a warm homage to the dead
idealistic socialist president of Chile. Salvador
Allende was elected on November 4, 1970, becoming the
first elected Marxist president in Latin America, and
on September 11, 1973, during a coup d'Etat on his legally elected
democratic government, Allende took his own life.
Filmmaker Guzmán went into exile as the repressive military
junta came into power to be followed by the even more
repressive dictatorship of General Pinochet, with full
support from the Nixon administration. Pinochet's
bloody totalitarian regime lasted for 17-years.
Little political insight is
offered in this intimate and personal pic, as Guzmán chooses instead to warmly
portray Allende as an honorable, intelligent and
humanitarian figure. He tells us that Allende was just
as much a reformist democrat as a leftist
revolutionary. His friendship with Castro, his ridding
Chile of U.S. influence, his collectivization of farms
and nationalization of factories and big business
alarmed both the right-wing and middle-class
bourgeoisie of Chile, as well as the western world.
Thereby the western countries supported his opposition
with funds and the U.S. used the CIA for covert
political assignments, including, the assassination of
Allende's protective top general. Allende's decision
not to control the army meant he could not count on
them in a time of trouble, such as during right-wing
led strikes. All these volatile conditions led to his
downfall. Newsreel and home footage helps us see the
Valparaiso physician as a nice guy and good
campaigner, who wanted to make life better for the
workers and the poor. There's also lots of talking
head stuff, that ranged from the octogenarian daughter
of his nanny telling us his favorite dish was
empanadas and the articulate Edward Korry, the former
United States ambassador to Chile, who gave us a few
tidbits on how much President Nixon hated Allende and
referred to him as that S.O.B..
It's a solid no-nonsense documentary, that sheds some light on the popular but controversial Chilean president who had a tumultuous three years in office, but fails to get into the great part the CIA played in Allende's downfall and averts talking about Allende's faults as a politician--such as his inexpedient handling of the economy.
REVIEWED ON 9/20/2011 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ