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Salvador Allende

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Patricio Guzman's 2004 biography of the Chilean president is less a conventional documentary than a cinematic act of mourning. Melancholy, poetic, and measured, it traces Allende's life and career, emphasizing his election in 1970 and his overthrow in a '73 coup--he shot himself in the head while the presidential palace burned. Allende is presented as a socialist who "cared about workers and the poor," but the economic chaos during his rule--some arguably his fault--is glossed over. Near the end a poem movingly expresses a wish to turn back time: "The waterfall flows upwards. . . . Planes fly backwards. . . . His head is healed." In Spanish with subtitles. 100 min. Gene Siskel Film Center.

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