International Writers Magazine:
Actors: Matias Quer, Ariel Mateluna, Manuela
Martelli, Aline Kuppenheim, Ernesto Malbran
Directed by Andres Wood
killed. 100,000 arrested without trial. 22,000 expelled. 150,000
exiled. Its 1973 in Chile and President Salvador Allende,
the first socialist democratically elected in a Latin American country,
had begun his reign.
We are told the
story of a snapshot of Latin American history through the eyes of
two eleven year old boys. Pedro is a poor boy from a pueblo background
brought into an upper class private school during Chiles brief
socialist era. Gonzalo, a young boy from the opposite end of the
spectrum befriends Pedro against the bullying will of his class
mates of whom he has also been a target. In doing so his eyes are
opened to a raw, complicated world he barely knew existed outside
his sheltered life.
Through these very young sets of eyes we see Chile drift towards a civil
war as protest marches fill the streets. Amid all this Gonzalo must also
deal with more personal problems which can seem insignificant to some.
His promiscuous mother is having an affair with a wealthy older man and
his father lacks the will to fight for their marriage.
As the two boys grasp their friendship the insight into one anothers
lives shows an enormous rift which becomes impossible to bridge. Once
the military coup capsizes the nation the children suddenly have to face
tests beyond their naïve capabilities as the film surges to a tear
Although Machuca may have more of an impact of Chileans who experienced
the coup directly, its a theme of young people caught in the swirl
of events beyond their understanding which resonates far beyond the details
of this single moment in history. Through realistic imagery, giving the
film an almost documentary feel, I was able to feel their pain, opening
my eyes into another reality.
Woods directing is assured, showing a love of his country and history
in a polemic but not preachy manor. We are given a balanced view of each
side of social class, giving us a better understanding of why and how
Gonzalos father summarises the attitude of the moneyed class by
saying "socialism is perfect for Chile
just not for us".
Whilst Pedros fathers speech to his son demonstrates the reality
people are faced with in the shanty towns.
"In 5 years time Gonzalo will be in college
you will be scrubbing
toilets. In ten years time Gonzalo will be working for his fathers
you will still be scrubbing toilets. In fifteen years time
Gonzalo will run his fathers company
you will still be scrubbing
The story itself works as a metaphor for the innocence of the people at
the time. An innocence that was lost over an over.
© Tabitha Parkes November 2007
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