Saturday, October 31, 2009
Buenos Aires 1977
Cronica de una fuga; Thriller, Argentina, 2006; D: Israel Adrian Caetano, S: Rodrigo de la Serna, Pablo Echarri, Nazareno Casero
Buenos Aires in the 70s, during Jorge Videla's military junta. Claudio, a soccer player, gets suddenly kidnapped by members of the secret military police, bound, blindfolded and imprisoned into an abandoned mansion. Together with other prisoners, Guillermo, El Gallego and El Vasco, are tortured and abused by the police who suspect they are leftist rebels. Claudio is innocent and finds out one of the prisoners just mentioned his name because he had to give the police any kind of information, even false one. After over 120 days, the four naked prisoners manage to escape through the window and go to the street. They find clothes and leave the country.
An example of "Argentinian new cinema", nominated for the Golden Palm in Cannes, "Buenos Aires 1977" is a deeply disturbing, dark and depressing chronicle of human aggression unleashed through the abuse of power. Just like in Pasolini's "Salo", the innocent characters in this film get kidnapped by the secret military police and tortured in terrible ways for over 120 days, except that here director Caetano has an even more justified approach since these things really happened in his country during the "Dirty War" where some 20,000 people disappeared without a trace. With great camera angles and visual style - one of the best examples is the scene where the protagonist takes his blindfold off for the first time when he is brought to his "cell", and the camera makes an 360 degree turn to show the four walls he is in - the authors managed to create a tight 'kammerspiel', creating the claustrophobic tone since the majority of the film plays out only inside the old mansion. A few serious complaints could be directed towards the too grey approach and some ellipses - like the too abrupt cut from "Day 1" to "Day 31" - yet the suspenseful finale where the four naked prisoners escape and run through the streets at night really are shocking and seize the attention. The actors also did a great job, despite the fact that some have criticized the story for only trying to make a political stand.