Political Chaos from the Vantage of Children's Eyes
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 05/07/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Andrés Wood is a highly regarded Chilean filmmaker, a man unafraid to take on controversial issues and present them in a manner that is revelatory to his audience, whether that audience is in Chile or other South American countries - or in Europe or North America. In MACHUCA he transports us to the year 1973 in Chile when Pinochet's military coup overthrew Allende's socialist 'democracy'. Knowing that there remains a divided opinion of this period of time, a time when Allende supporters who could not escape the country were murdered or placed in detention camps as political prisoners, Woods sensitively recreates this period through the eyes of children from the populace divided by the middle class and the poor, a technique which works on every level.
Saint Patrick's School for boys in Santiago is headed by a kind priest/principal Father McEnroe (Ernesto Malbran) and the rich to middle class uniformed boys include one 'strawberry faced', quiet, chubby Gonzalo Infante (Matías Quer) whose family is of means but has issues of covert infidelity with the mother (Aline Küppenheim) and father (Francisco Reyes). The Allende government is shaky, and in an attempt to appease the poor class, Saint Patrick's School takes on students from the shantytowns to 'democratize' education. Among these new students is Pedro Machuca (Ariel Mateluna) who seems to be a loner but soon becomes the brunt of the rich kids' prejudice. Gonzalo befriends Pedro and gradually the two form a strong bond which leads to each of the boys learning about their separate families and life styles: Gonzalo's life of luxury dazzles Pedro while Pedro's humble shack houses warm family that Gonzalo envies. The friendship leads to a close examination of the schism of racism and political clashes brought into sharp focus as the military coup changes everything. Only friendship remains intact in a dramatically tested fashion.
Andrés Woods marries the political and the human aspects of this chaotic time in Chile and offers us insights into the ongoing changing governments of South America. His script (which he wrote with Eliseo Altunaga, Roberto Brodsky and Mamoun Hassan) is spare leaving space for much of the story to be told by observing the interaction of his two main characters with their associates. The result is a deeply moving film, an opportunity to observe the tenuous times of a period most of us barely understand. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, May 07"
Excellent, historically accurate, moving
DM | Ottawa Canada | 09/16/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film, presented very recently in Ottawa on celluloid, is a moving,believable tale of two youngsters from different social strata, Pedro and Gonzalo, who become classmates and friends due to the efforts of a compassionate priest (who seems to have actually existed)in allowing a group of poor children to attend an exclusive private school in Santiago during the latter part of Salvador Allende's presidency. Their friendship is portrayed realistically, and when Gonzalo visits the shantytown in which Pedro lives, it is easy to see why someone like Allende who promised Chile social and economic equality would be elected. The two youngsters' friendship,damaged just before the coup that led to Allende's death and Pinochet's decades-long rule, is broken as the school is taken over by the military and the shantytown where Pedro lives is razed by the new autocratic regime. If "Machuca" does find release as a compatible DVD (there is, strangely, a Betamax video version of it), it should be viewed and appreciated by many (it has been noticed at film festivals)."
Juan Lagarrigue | Tempe, AZ USA | 10/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For americans or europeans this is the movie to see if you want to understand the Chilean process, and all the damage done by the CIA helping the right wing and the military. Is exactly the moment when everything broke, when nothing could be fixed and when the terror started to spread on the surface of the earth."
Steven Janasik | Park Falls, WI USA | 07/30/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a story of 2 young Chilean boys who befriend one another during the turmoil of the Allende era. One boy is from a well to do family & enjoys a life of privilege. The other boy is from a poor family & is mistreated by society & the government.
This movie is well worth the money but be aware that unless you can get hold of a disk equipped with English subtitles, you will need some knowledge of Spanish to get the most from this film."