It’s truly ironic that Chile – which perhaps had the longest run at democracy, among all Latin American countries, over the 20th century – experienced its most egalitarian, inclusive, pluralistic and progressive President as its last elected head of state, before it too succumbed to the horrors of repressive, right-wing dictatorship. That Allende was a life-long Marxist, socialist and revolutionary – albeit, one who preferred the electoral route as opposed to armed rebellion – and emphatically anti-imperialist too, arguably hastened the demise of his life and Presidency. And yet, despite the short-lived tenure, he helped the working-class, peasants, leftist activists and intellectuals dream of a utopia and even briefly experience the euphoria of one, before it was violently destroyed from within and without. Guzmán formally marked the culmination of his 3 decades’ exile with this disquieting, elegiac and multifaceted look into the life and times of the revered gentleman politician who was enormously loved by the people, while disparaged by the bourgeoisie, reactionaries and the US government. The film – which was as an integral companion piece to the director’s landmark Battle of Chile, and reflective of his deep admiration for the man – covered Allende and the coup along multiple lines. We get to know about his political journey, personal facets and final moments from his daughters and friends; we hear about his legacy, audacious agrarian reforms and nationalizations, virulent oppositions he encountered and what perhaps he ought to have done differently, from former Popular Unity militants; we unequivocally learn about the American government’s noxious involvement from Edward Korry, the then US Ambassador to Chile; and these were juxtaposed with priceless documentary footage, and accompanied by an affective score and Guzmán’s wry, mournful voiceover.
Director: Patricio Guzman