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Nostalgia for the Light

4.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

For his new film master director Patricio Guzmán, famed for his political documentaries (THE BATTLE OF CHILE, SALVADOR ALLENDE), travels 10,000 feet above sea level to the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert, where atop the mountains astronomers from all over the world gather to observe the stars. The sky is so translucent that it allows them to see right to the boundaries of the universe. The Atacama is also a place where the harsh heat of the sun keeps human remains intact: those of Pre-Columbian mummies; 19th century explorers and miners; and the remains of political prisoners, disappeared by the Chilean army after the military coup of September, 1973. So while astronomers examine the most distant and oldest galaxies, at the foot of the mountains, women, surviving relatives of the disappeared whose bodies were dumped here, search, even after twenty-five years, for the remains of their loved ones, to reclaim their families histories. Melding the celestial quest of the astronomers and the earthly one of the women, NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT is a gorgeous, moving, and deeply personal odyssey.


Stunningly beautiful. I don't know how you can put more into a film, or make one that's more deeply moving. --Stuart Klawans, The Nation

Deeply Affecting! Critics Pick. --New York Magazine

The film is gorgeous, purposefully slow, almost a meditation. Guzmán tells us life in the Atacama Desert is an eternal book of memories. And he lingers on every page, capturing shots of constellations with the care of a master photographer. Imagine Ansel Adams, working in colour, let loose in the Milky Way. --Stephen Cole, The Globe and Mail

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Gaspar Galaz, Vicky Saavedra
  • Directors: Patricio Guzman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: Spanish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Icarus Films
  • DVD Release Date: September 13, 2011
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005C5PV2K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,560 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 21, 2011
Format: DVD
This extraordinary documentary essay film examines recent human history through the lens of the outer reaches of space. Patricio Guzman, celebrated documentarian whose work has always focused upon the hidden past of Chile, takes the opportunity here to consider the nature of time and memory by juxtaposing two seemingly incompatible investigations that are taking place in the Atacama desert of Chile. This desert, the driest place in the world, is home to some of the largest telescopes in the world, where astronomers take advantage of the arid skies in order to gaze at the cosmos, in hopes of unlocking the mysteries of the universe. At the same time, this desert is home to other, more unsettling mysteries, since it is believed that the bodies of political prisoners from the Pinochet era were buried here. As the astronomers research the stars, the families of victims examine the earth. As the astronomers look to the lights that shine in the midst of the darkness of the heavens, these intrepid women seek to cast light on an era of secrecy and corruption.

In a conversation at the Cannes film festival, where this film was first screened, Guzman described it as "metaphysical, mystical or spiritual, astronomical, ethnographic and political." You might add "environmental," since the film asks us to consider ourselves in relation to our environment both in the broadest sense, as we are inhabitants of a small rock hurtling through the immensity of an inhospitable space, and in the most immediate sense as we are political creatures, who make for ourselves an uneasy home among others like us.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Very few films have affected me the way that "Nostaligia for the Light" has. I am haunted by its images of the barren Atacama desert, of the otherworldly moonscape on which both enormous telescopes and concentration camps have been built, of the crude rock carvings of the prehistoric inhabitants of the region. The way that the film ties these -- and many other -- images together is nothing short of triumphant.

Add to this the thematic explorations of the film -- time, grief, mystery, memory, human (and humane) frailty, the transience of all things, the genocide of political protestors during Pinochet's brutal tenure, and the search for meaning in an otherwise indifferent setting -- and you have a film that moved me beyond words. I have reviewed only a few products or books for Amazon, and generally don't place much stock in overly enthusiastic ramblings such as this one. Somehow, though, I felt compelled to comment on this film, which shed a great deal of light on a great many subjects without once becoming heavy-handed or digressive.

As the film points out, we are such stuff as the universe is made of. Stars contain the same elements as the bones of those buried in mass graves in the Atacama. The same light that ennobles the best of our intentions (an understanding of who we are as human beings) also reveals cruelty, torture, and murder on a scale that is almost impossible to understand.

And yet, all is tied together through this terrific work of filmmaking. Seeing it was, truly, a life changing experience. The final scenes are so powerful, both in terms of the human spirit and its capacity for great good in the face of true evil, that words simply can not describe the majesty they convey. See this film: you'll be a better person for having done so.
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Format: DVD
Patricio Guzman, Chile's poet-documentarian, remains haunted and riveted by what happened in his country during the revolutionary years of Salvador Allende's administration and the US-backed fascist coup which ended it.The coup d'etat was depicted in the great political film,The Battle of Chile.and the long period of amnesiac forgetting takes us up to Nostalgia for the Light,his present filmic essay taking in archaeology,astronomy and recovery of the disappeared.Art must confront its Guernicas and 9/11s.We get the scene of dust particles swirling in a sunbeam, a Lucretion settling of the thoughts about our being and origins.He takes us back to the Chile of his youth,where he "loved science fiction stories, lunar eclipses and watching the sun through a piece of smoky glass".We get tableaux of nostalgia,"Only the present moment existed".A dissolve follows setting out the cosmological and historical parameters,in the specific setting of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, visible from space,the driest place on Earth.This humanist document unites idealist skysearchers and realist earthsearchers.

The translucent sky allows astronomers to see the boundaries of the universe,light from the past takes millions of years to reach us.The desert is also home to pre-Columbian shepherd's bones and rock carvings, and the place where Pinochet buried bodies in mass graves,following imprisonment,torture and murder.The desert is a palimpsest of the past,ossuary and observatory.Elderly women search among its stones for murdered loved ones.Balancing philosophical reflections on human memory and the matter of the stars,the calcium of our bones comes from the stars." The present doesn't exist",according to Gaspar Galaz,a young astronomer,'Now' is a mental construct.
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