Pinochet's Last Stand
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At the beginning, as is often the case with a docudrama, the film reminds you that it's based on fact, but some characters may be made up. Okay, I'll buy that.
Then the screen shows some of the atrocities of which Pinochet was accused: 3,000 dead and 30,000 tortured. The script added in a few places that about 1,200 disappeared too. (The activist with the most prominent role in the cast, Nicole Prouilly, had a sister who was among the 1,200).
Then, onto the story: General Pinochet is visiting UK for back surgery. Activists from UK's Amnesty International office, having tried unsuccessfully to have Pinochet arrested in the past, try again. They appeal to Home Secretary Jack Straw who then arrests Pinochet who's still recovering from the surgery.
Pinochet, played masterfully by Derek Jacobi, shows the hubris one would expect from a dictator. He's arrogant, can't believe that he's under arrest, even though he's sent to a rather elegant house used often by English show biz personalities. He gets put in his place by a young policewoman.
When Madame Pinochet leaves, Augusto says one of the most intriguing lines of the script: "So much time alone with my wife; the one masterstroke of my enemies."
In the meantime, the Pinochets hire Michael Caplan as their defense attorney. He attempts to convince the courts--and the Pinochets--that they are "victims of politics.Read more ›
Expatriate Chileans are just itching for the man code-named "the gentleman" to arrive in the United Kingdom so they can have him detained by the court. When he does, they get their wish.
One thing that stands in the way of turning him over is that Britain did not adopt laws against torture on foreign soil until 1988. Any torture committed before then cannot be considered.
While the British Chileans explore every judical loophole to have Pinochet account for his crimes, the former dictator's lawyers mount a professional defense, and pressure on the home secretary to release him is intense. That includes pressure from the United States, Tony Blair, and the Vatican.
Into the mix comes a visit from Lady Thatcher, former prime minister of Great Britain, who gushes over the man as the "Savior of Chile." (This was the one surprise to me in the whole film, that Margaret Thatcher would have even considered the company of a mass murderer).
The Chileans too keep up the pressure, but in the end he is able to play the fool and be judged medically and psychologically incapable of standing trial. Pinochet returns to Chile, where he discards his walker after deplaning, and continues unattended.
The short drama lacks the same despite the superb acting of Derek Jacobi who plays in the title role, with a supporting cast that is top-drawer. It is the acting that carries a sparse storyline, and nudges it to the three star mark. The bottom line is the question, would I want to sit down and watch this again?
The answer is unfortunately, no.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A look at the legal quagmire that Pinochet experienced in England during Thatcher's leadership. Somewhat slow. Somewhat interesting. Ok movie.Published 10 months ago by Hawkeye
This movie is complete garbage. Pionchet, his wife and Margaret Thatcher were all portrayed as buffoonish cartoon characters. Read morePublished on December 31, 2012 by Nathan Road