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80 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Epic Chronicle Of Chile's Revolution.
After years of waiting, Patricio Guzman's epic documentary "The Battle Of Chile" finally makes its DVD debut. This is a rich, astounding chronicle of the Chilean Revolution under Salvador Allende, the cultural battles which sprouted as a result and how it all came to a tragic end in a CIA-sponsored military coup. This is not just a simple documentary on a historical event...
Published on January 20, 2010 by Robert Blake

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting historical movie
Viewing this movie you see a lot of similarities with what is happening in Venezuela. But the similarities are just in the appearance. Chile of 1973 is very different of Venezuela of 2013. First, Allende's coalition was a minority in the congress. Chavez had an absolute control of the congress. Allende governed Chile for just three years. Chavez/Maduro had been in power...
Published 16 months ago by Jaime A. Franco


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80 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Epic Chronicle Of Chile's Revolution., January 20, 2010
By 
Robert Blake (Santa Monica, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Battle Of Chile (DVD)
After years of waiting, Patricio Guzman's epic documentary "The Battle Of Chile" finally makes its DVD debut. This is a rich, astounding chronicle of the Chilean Revolution under Salvador Allende, the cultural battles which sprouted as a result and how it all came to a tragic end in a CIA-sponsored military coup. This is not just a simple documentary on a historical event however, this is a powerful, visually stunning work with a scope that ranks it alongside political films like "The Battle Of Algiers," "Salvador" and "Z." Guzman here doesn't just give us a great chronicle, but great cinema.

"The Battle Of Chile" begins midway through the administration of Allende, who made history by becoming the world's first elected Marxist president. Guzman and his crew introduce us to Allende's Chile just as the population prepares to vote in a crucial parliamentary election. Allende is determined to show the world that a socialist transformation can be carried out through democratic, peaceful means and so his project is hampered by a system ruled by an old oligarchy and corporate elites. Guzman and his editors do a great job balancing intimate portraits of Chilean citizens and their concerns, hopes and dreams along with sharp reporting on political developments as right-wing members of congress work hard to derail all of Allende's progressive reforms. The opening of "Part 1" is fascinating as Guzman walks around the capital of Santiago interviewing average citizens and asking who they will vote for and why. He shows us both sides of the debate as working class Chileans express their support for Allende and his social reforms and upper class Chileans spew venomous hatred for the government. When Allende's coalition, Unidad Popular, wins the elections, the right-wing takes the battle into the streets and that's where the film truly does justice to its title. Chile turns into a political battleground as the workers become more militant in defense of the Revolution, forming popular committees, educating themselves politically and even engaging in street combat when fascist groups try to provoke strikes and start turning to bombs and plans for a coup when they realize they cannot defeat Allende through elections.

Like many of the best documentaries, "The Battle Of Chile" is impressive just in the way it was made. It is amazing to think Guzman had one camera most of the time, or that this was shot by a two, three man team. The images are epic and crisp, cinematic in scope and never boring. There are scenes of street combat where we are taken directly into the action, we never feel like outside observers during this entire film. Guzman takes us inside popular meetings, he lets the workers talk to us, express their ideals and criticisms, nobody feels like an interview subject but like people expressing their minds while experiencing a historical event. This film also never feels small, it is truly grand as Guzman goes everywhere from the copper minds where the right-wing tries to breed descent to towns where revolutionary workers demand arms to gatherings of Chile's US-trained military commanders, as they wait and see how things develop before deciding to move against the Revolution. We get epic vistas of Chile's cities and rural zones, with a brilliant establishment of time and space.

"The Battle Of Chile" is the best film on the Allende years because you get a true inside view of what it was like. Most documentaries made today which touch on the subject of Allende and the US-backed coup have to depend on surviving witnesses, some who's attitudes may have changed over the years, but this is a film made in the moment. A great bonus DVD added here is Guzman's sequel, "Chile, Obstinate Memory" where he returns to his country after 20 years in exile. Here we get to revisit some of the original people featured in "The Battle Of Chile" as they reflect on how the country went from a fever of hope to a period of fascist tyranny and death camps under Augusto Pinochet. One truly powerful moment comes when Guzman shows "Battle Of Chile" to a group of young Chileans raised under Pinochet's shadow, stunned to see in the film a history blocked from their lives.

In a way "The Battle Of Chile" is more important now than at any other time, especially when one looks at the current political changes taking place in Latin America. Many of the class battles and intrigue we see here are no doubt taking place again in countries like Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. This is not just a powerful document of a revolutionary period in Chile, but a masterful chronicle of a nation and people experiencing a unique moment in history. "The Battle Of Chile" is exciting, important and timeless.
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43 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fidel, Che and the Sandinistas Were Right, August 20, 2010
By 
Zarathustra (Sacramento, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Battle Of Chile (DVD)
When the socialist Salvador Allende was elected President of Chile, a country with a long tradition of free elections, the reactionary elements used a variety of tactics to ruin the country's economy, including closing factories and hoarding food. The workers, who elected Allende, showed up for work and began to manage the factories and distribute food. In the meantime, the Chilean armed forces, under the tutelage of the United States military under Richard Nixon, planned a coup to remove Allende.
On September 11, 1973, the Chilean air force bombed the national palace and the army fired on it, completely destroying the building and killing Allende.
This thorough documentary by Patricio Guzman, banned in Chile until 1997, tells this story and the aftermath, when Augusto Pinochet, the military dictator, began herding up suspected leftists, killed them and buried them in unmarked graves. They were known as "the disappeared".
Why were Fidel, Che and the Sandinistas right? Because they all believed that the US would never permit a socialist elected in a free election to hold power.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A model for documentaries, April 24, 2013
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This review is from: The Battle Of Chile (DVD)
Objective coverage of period of drastic political change. Three films made over a period of five years (1975-79) based on footage shot during 1970-73. Gives the viewer a real sense of "being there."
In the late 1960's and early 1970's there were arguments that if people want to effect change, they should "use the system" or "work within the system" rather than trying to overthrow "the system." The Allende regime was a test case of trying to build a socialist society using the machinery of parliamentary democracy. Up to that time, Chile had a democratic government for over a century with only one two-year period of military rule. As the working class began to implement change, with increased electoral success, the wealthy engineered a coup, resulting in fifteen years of tyranny, torture, murder, concentration camps.
This is an important document for students of political science and for others with an interest in the debate over how social change can be effected. Although Guzman's sympathies were with the Allendists, his film presents facts and events and typical incidents which allow the viewer to come to her own conclusions about what mistakes were made by the people involved.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an important historical documentary, March 26, 2012
By 
connoisseur (Wellington New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Battle Of Chile (DVD)
This 4-disc box set contains the three separate parts of the original feature film made in the immediate years after the events of 1973, and released at different times rather than together, each part to a disc (they are quite lengthy) plus a 4th disc made from footage shot in 1996 when the surviving filmmakers went back to Chile to update what happened after the coup d'etat of 1973 and how events were viewed then, both by some of those who were around at the time and interestingly by some high school-girls who were born 6-7 years afterwards. Even 23 years after 1973, the filmmakers had to be surrepticious in filming in some places, such as the Presidential Palace.

Director Patricio Guzmán is clearly sympathetic to the cause of the Popular Unity (the left wing alliance 1970-1973) and bias in material presented show, but this is understandable given the nature of the Pinochet junta and its human rights abuses. From a centrist viewpoint, however, there are some things that should be pointed out - Salvador Allende received only 37% of the vote in September 1970, so the claim that he was 'democratically' elected is quite tenuous - constitutionally, sure. This point is downplayed. The negative consequences of his economic policies (without consideration of the US sanctions) such as 140% inflation in 1972 and a huge deterioration in the country's trade balance, get ignored. Allende didn't just nationalize the land holdings of big agriculturalists, all farms above a mere 80 hectares or 200 acres were nationalized. Experience in countries such as Russia, Ukraine and most recently Zimbabwe show that this is disastrous. Likewise, experience throughout the Eastern Bloc showed that state owned enterprises in a centrally planned economy can't compete with private enterprise and the market system for efficiency, productivity and innovation. If Allende had wanted to redistribute wealth, he could have done it best through the tax and welfare systems which is what all western governments do successfully. But Allende was dogmatic, determined and uncompromising to the end - that comes through clearly.

The films clearly show the highly confrontational nature of both sides involved in the 'battle', which was mostly ideological rather than physical, and this is quite important in the understanding of why it all happened, although there are some dramatic 'action' moments too - none less than when a Swedish cameraman is shot dead by the soldier he is filming in the distance, who fires his rifle at him.

It all provides good insight into the nature of superpower politics in the 1970s and much food for thought.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and Emotional Pre-Coup History, November 4, 2013
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This review is from: The Battle Of Chile (DVD)
This four CD set takes a lot of time but it is time well spent if you want to understand Chile before the Pinochet Coup. My wife and I watched it before going to Chile with a group led by a professor who was in Chile on 9/11/73 the day Allende died. Watching this beforehand really helped us understand more about what happened and gave us an understanding and insights into the people of Chile and their class distinctions.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting historical movie, May 18, 2013
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This review is from: The Battle Of Chile (DVD)
Viewing this movie you see a lot of similarities with what is happening in Venezuela. But the similarities are just in the appearance. Chile of 1973 is very different of Venezuela of 2013. First, Allende's coalition was a minority in the congress. Chavez had an absolute control of the congress. Allende governed Chile for just three years. Chavez/Maduro had been in power for over 12 years. The economic crisis Chile suffered during those years was due to lack of hard currency and the strikes ordered by the opposition: elites and business class. The economic crisis in Venezuela is not due to lack of hard currency. It is mainly due to the mismanagement of the economy. Nevertheless the movie shows how the elites react when they see they no longer have the control.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth keeping a copy, a good documentary!, July 19, 2011
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This review is from: The Battle Of Chile (DVD)
It's really a good documentary, long footage of a
historical event! worth the wait, to have a personal
copy.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant documentary, a lesson from history, December 9, 2013
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This review is from: The Battle Of Chile (DVD)
Missed by many reviewers are the facts revealed in the documentary that the Allende government and its Marxist backers never had the support of the majority (the congressional elections gave 56% to the opposition),that the Allende government and the Marxist were confiscating private property (often illegally), that the Marxists were threatening violent revolution and the execution (and even castration) of the "mummies" (the majority opposition), that the Marxists were gathering weapons, and that chaos were permeating the nation. This documentary is brilliant, not for its chest beating for a Marxist revolution (with typical leftist rants about the "people," who presumably did not include the majority who disagreed), but because, despite itself, it underscores just how hollow the whole Marxist weltanschauung was and is. Especially amusing are the constant attacks on the United States. When has it not been true in history that strong nations pursue their own best interests in weaker nations, as the Soviet Union did in Cuba, Poland, East Germany, Bulgaria etc and Russia is doing in Syria?

Ridiculously naive and even silly in its archaic "gotta revolution" language and slant, this is still a great documentary. It makes clear that even in the most democratic of societies the producers will defend themselves by any means ultimately necessary against a "the working class" that would take as their own what others have earned
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Battle of Chile, May 30, 2011
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This review is from: The Battle Of Chile (DVD)
Overall, a very good documentary, however the position taken by the director seems to be a little one sided. I would have liked to have heard the points of view of the more right wing population as well. Of course in the end it is always the middle class that gets squeezed and the director did a good job voicing their plight and uncertainty. Each CD spends too much time with interviews that be-labour a point. I think the message could have been conveyed in much less time, and more footage. However, I got an insight into the events that setup the problem in Chile. This is something I did not have before. Excellent in general.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unflinching look at the forces that led to the coup bringing decades of dictatorship to the oldest democracy in Latin America, February 25, 2014
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This review is from: The Battle Of Chile (DVD)
Incredibly well done. This documentary takes you back the tragic events the led to the coup overthrowing the first democratically elected Socialist president in the Americas. Witness how the poor organized themselves in defense of their president and how the CIA and their business partners in the country orchestrated the coup.
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The Battle Of Chile
The Battle Of Chile by Patricio Guzman (DVD - 2009)
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