This latest version of the 1983 classic on war and social revolution in Guatemala describes the struggle of the largely Indian peasantry against a legacy of state and foreign oppression, centered on the experiences of Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú, a Maya K'iche indigenous leader. Despite the long history of oppression, the film conveys the birth of a national and political awareness.
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One of the most important films of our time. While there is one holocaust which is rightfully extremely publicized and pretty much everyone has heard of, there are numerous other genocides that have occurred and are occurirng. One of the worst is in Guatemala, where Mayan Indians have been killed by the hundreds of thousands. A favorite method is burning people alive. This is done with the support of the U.S. government. The narrator of this film Rigoberta Menchu, won the Nobel Peace Price in 1994, which was the Quincentennial of Colombus' arrival to the Western Hemisphere. Her father was burned alive in the Spanish embassy in Guatemala, which is part of Spain despite where it's located. Very graphic, powerful and moving film about a crucial topic. This stuff is still going on in numerous countries under U.S. direction.
Reviewed in the United States on December 10, 2018
I remember reading I, Rigoberta Menchu 25 years ago and being moved by it. Since that time, my memory of and attention to Guatemala and the U.S. relation to it have faded. I just watched this film in 2018 and am grateful to the filmmakers for their courage and dedication to telling this story. It is not one that we are exposed to frequently here in the U.S. The access that the filmmakers had to the people of Guatemala gives us a rare window into their lives. They also did an excellent job weaving in news footage and interviews with politicians and members of the military and church to give perspective to the story. This is not easy to watch due to the brutality that is conveyed through testimony and images, but I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand this period of Guatemala's history.
Such a wonderful, inspirational, but horrific story into the sad and courageous lives of the Guatematecos. Rigoberta Menchu is such a hero. As a Spanish teacher I tried to pass her story on to my students.
I only discovered this film after searching for information on Rigoberta Menchu. As much as I have pursued activism, there is clearly a range of great work like this film circulating around. The astonishingly unlikely circumstances of the filmmakers' accomplishment convinces me of the underlying spiritual significance of this piece. The extent of documentation and of the different sides is tremendous, really deserving the inclusion of this film in fair trade coffee house screenings. I have also recently seen Romero, and intend to see Of Love and Shadows again. I also discovered an oldie, Viva Zapata!, which bears on similar issues. The tragedy of the genocide and propaganda of US Foreign Policy and Multinational Corporations is disgraceful and a betrayal of the culture's underlying religious ethics. The directors commentary is an incredible treat, on top of the filming, dramatic recreation, and splicing of Rigoberta Menchu.
Regarding "When the Mountains Tremble" is a very good documentary with great detail as to the atrocities committed by the Rios Montt administration during the mid 1980's supported by the US government. Very provocative footage, that bewilders the viewer on how and who let the film makers take the shots that they did and how it was allowed to leave the country and released for mass audiences. Great work by the documentary crew. However, the use of subtitles were missing especially for Mayan dialogue.