4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
over to the dark side,
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This review is from: Chronicle of an Escape (DVD)
Psychological and physical torture are by no means new in serious films (not to mention of course horror exploitation films). But many efforts to put political abuse on film have had to do with Nazis and I think we need to keep in mind that other civilized countries like Argentina have gone over to the dark side in the last century or so. Unleash the dogs of war and get some "professional" thugs to try to get information out of people and you get thug-like mistreatment of people that may or may not reveal true facts, and that can even sweep in quite innocent people.
I am an American and this is why I found the film interesting. We are thinking a lot in 2009 about our own government in recent years locking up and whisking off presumed bad guys and abusing them in rather primal ways. It is good to contemplate the realities of political torture, though of course it is not easy to compare Argentine politics directly with the contemporary situation that concerns us. Do I need to say this twice? It is only the chaos of crude methods of supposedly extracting information that hints at comparison.
It was a well-made film about a true story from a very ugly chapter in Argentine history when a military dictatorship took over. I have seen films about the era of the "disappearances" the desaparacidos and The Official Story (La historia oficial) (1985)is one that I thought was outstanding. This one for example helped me as an American to better understand how not only brutal but really sick those days were and had a plot that drew you in.
Chronicle of an Escape is mostly about torture and escape and does not flesh out very well the historical context for the personal torments. But if you know at least a bit of the history it can help flesh out and bring to life aspects of the human dimensions of what people in Argentina went through. I know enough of the history to have found it engrossing, but I think it would have been more engrossing to Argentinians.
So I would say it was a good film in all technical respects and a good effort to document an important personal story for modern history.So with reservations I give it 5 stars.
Is this a keeper? I have not made up my mind. The "Making of An Escape" special feature was annoying -- it seemed like self indulgent fluff and the crew was having altogether too good a time for such a serious topic and had too little to say about the era or about film-making.
The "Deleted Sequences" were quite interesting, however, and you could imagine how the film could have been edited to have a rather different texture.
The trip to Stockholm was worth watching but was not what it could have been. It did put real faces on some of the characters in the film after they had grown older. The special features all had English subtitles and so that was good for me.
I really wish that there had been a director's or producers commentary to help make more clear for non-Argentinians some of the subtle interpersonal relationships. Then I would watch it again. As it is I think I will sit on it awhile and see if I am inspired to go back and get into some of the details that were hard to be sure of. For me they were not really important. Like did his sister betray the soccer star to protect her boyfriend? If the answer is there, it would not be important to me because in general Argentinians were crippled by fear and this would only have been another disgusting example.