The Battle of Chile, Part Two: The Coup d'Etat AND Chile, Obstinate Memory | Chicago Reader

The Battle of Chile, Part Two: The Coup d'Etat AND Chile, Obstinate Memory

The 1973 bombing of Chile's presidential palace is one of the critical events in the country's history recorded by Patricio Guzman and his colleagues, who managed to preserve hours of uncut footage in the aftermath of the coup. The resulting documentary wasn't screened in Chile until 23 years later, inspiring Guzman to make Chile, Obstinate Memory (1997), in which clips from the three-part The Battle of Chile are threaded among interviews and powerful sequences showing the reactions of viewers. One of the interviewees is a painter who works from photographs, representing the events of the 70s by reproducing to scale the contours of people (many of whom he knew), weapons, and buildings on large canvases. Guzman's own method of historicizing is similar in the earlier documentary, whose on-the-spot footage is manipulated only minimally by the editing, though it's often summarized by a voice-over narration. The approach of the later documentary is more expansive—without ignoring or hyperbolizing the way in which politics affect everyone's sense of past events, it presents many galvanizing moments, as when a man who was a child in the 70s recalls with shame having been glad that the turmoil allowed him to stay home from school.

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