Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Las Cruces, Poblado Próximo

I'm still not sure if this was an attempt to dramatise real historical memories, perhaps someone can fill me in. It struck me as odd that the events depicted were set in 1986 when Guatemala was already a democracy of sorts under Vinicio Cerezo.

The model for this situation would seem to me to be the Ixcán massacres of 1982, so admirably reported by Ricardo Falla. This pitiless scorched earth campaign is usually attributed to Ríos Montt, I suppose because people both inside and outside the country feel the need to pin the blame on a Pinochet-equivalent, but the reality is that it started before his coup and experienced a rather interesting hiatus immediately after it.

Anyway, this isn't as bad a movie as I suspected it might be when it kicked off. With so many non and semi-professional actors and a shamefully idealised view of the guerrillas (whose jungle fatigues are annoyingly perma-clean) I had my doubts, but the scriptwriters ended up constructing a situation that was both tense and moving. They achieved this by representing the enemy, the Kaibiles, as an elementally unpleasant force, and by skillfully handling the dissent within both the Mayan village community and the supposedly tight-knit group of seven revolutionaries.

But as a fictional (?) statement it falls short of say The Magnificent Seven, because the destinies of those that elect to stay and fight for the 'innocent' villagers are resolved rather unsatisfactorily. Still, given that Rafael Rosal's (and Casa Comal's) film seemed to have a smaller budget than the poblado in question it is a more than valiant effort to represent the horror of this period in Guatemalan history. And it ended up moving me to tears.

Giacomo Buonafina
, who plays Comandante Camilo, was the sound engineer for both this movie and Looking for Palladin, the American independent production shot in La Antigua earlier this year.

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