By Mónica Delgado
As it happens with Nostalgia for the light, the exploration of territory allows e opportunity for historical metaphor, to deepen in the recent memory of Chile. The Atacama Desert as geography is used to compare the vastness of facts that remain unlooked, and as a symbol for waiting: when the night arrives, the secrets of the sky are uncovered, and that allows auscultating for constellations. The reconstruction of history always seems to be waiting a celestial phenomenon to reach justice for thousands of victims.
In The cordillera of dreams, premiered at Cannes, something similar happens. The huge mountains, which are the spine of part of Latin America and Chile, are taken by Patricio Guzmán as a great guardian of memory. And also as a being that unknowingly, has separated the country from the region, and kept making invisible bloody facts from the dictatorship. The cordillera needs to sublimate as well, since the filmmaker recognizes that is merely a being observed by the population, which little by little has been being reflected in its millenary spirit, like a giant who governs it all.
The Andes cordillera seems abstract from the eyes of the drones. Patricio Guzmán uses this resource to look at it in its most material dimension (in an opposite pole of this extreme materiality that shows up in an experimental film like Malena Szlam’s Altiplano), but which allows to confront it in imaginaries with this monster that is Santiago, growing at its feet, and which still nests stories of injustice, fruits of harsh and worldly neoliberal politics, risen from the ashes of the Pinochet dictatorship.
While there is much of conventional cinema in The cordillera of dreams (in fact, Guzmán itself said that it is a very simple film), its intention lies in making visible these voices of a community of intellectuals who survive and reflect on this quotidian life that the filmmaker wishes to give light to. It’s the voice of this sort of “thought elite” which investigates and confronts (where the voice of young writer Jorge Baradit excels). And also, from archival images, gives a room for the registry of Pablo Salas, a survivor from the times of betacam and strikes in the middle of the eighties, in a climate of dictatorship, and which, at the end, becomes the alter ego of Guzmán, someone who stayed and remain, despite it all.
Director: Patricio Guzmán
Script: Patricio Guzmán
Cinematography: Samuel Lahu
A French – Chilean coproduction; Arte / Atacama Productions
France, 89 mins, 2019