Documentary seen at Curzon Renoir London.
Dictators seem to be stupid and in fact normally besides being brutal and inhuman and blood thirsty, they make huge mistakes that compromise their own position and end up losing it all.
Augusto Pinochet was a dictator and he was stupid amongst the other things, or at least some of his minions in the chain of command where extremely stupid. They decided to go and bury the thousands of people they were killing in the only place in the entire world where certain unique environmental conditions preserve human remains in almost intact conditions.
When they were coming to an end of the bloody decades of oppressions, executions and torture, they decided to try to delete the proofs of their crimes. But again being stupid, they dug up the bodies with machines and in doing so they left pieces of this bodies, fragments of bones mostly, all over the place.
To this days, mothers, wives, sisters are still digging the desert hoping to find enough of their beloved ones to give them a proper burial and have closure.
The extraordinary conditions of the Atacama desert in Chile have also attracted the attention of several European countries that have built in the desert one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) telescope on earth, the VLT, very large telescope.
Playing on these elements, Patricio Guzmán documentary is a slow, gentle, slow, “transfixing” (from the NY Times) documentary combining these apparently far elements into a beautiful “cinematic essay” (again NY Times), a truly beautiful although sad experience which exposes how the violence and absurdity of the events of the Pinochet dictatorship have a long ripple effect that has not settled down yet to this day, wrecking havoc for ever in the life of people and families who are still looking for closure in 2012.