For over four decades, Paris-based filmmaker Patricio Guzmán has been dutifully chronicling the history of his native Chile. His seminal work, La batalla de Chile trilogy, first exposed the world to harrowing scenes from Chile’s volatile political moment in the 1970s, capturing the violent counterrevolution against Salvador Allende’s democratically-elected government that led to General Augusto Pinochet‘s regime. His latest film, La cordillera de los sueños (The Cordillera of Dreams) may seem rather quaint in comparison. Its focus, as its title suggests, is the Andean mountain range that so dominates Chile’s topography. And indeed, as the trailer for the film shows, Guzmán is fascinated with what this geographical marker can tell him about Chile. In essence, this is a dreamlike meditation on national pride that doubles as a nature documentary, of a piece with Guzmán’s most recent works, which focused on the sky and the ocean respectively.
Gorgeous cinematography takes viewers on a journey through Chile’s skies and landscapes, taking your breath away at every second. But Guzmán’s intimate voice over throughout already alerts you that there’s more to this wistful look at Chile’s natural beauty. Indeed, the documentary eventually becomes an exploration of the decades of silence surrounding the violence of Pinochet’s regime, the effects of neoliberal economic policies on Chile’s middle-class and the remnants of decades’ worth trauma. Fellow filmmaker Pablo Salas, whose grainy footage of protests and injustices over the last few decades ends up sitting next to wide shots of snow-capped mountains, becomes the film’s protagonist. Intercutting protests from decades ago with shots of renewed calls for justice for those disappeared, the film is a rallying cry and a powerful history lesson.
“My gaze has turned toward the mountains,” Guzmán says at one point. “Perhaps they are the gateway to an understanding of present-day Chile.” That means looking at what those mountains represent to people, but also what they may have been hiding all along. Beautifully shot and politically urgent, The cordillera of dreams is a reminder that there’s no better chronicler of Chile’s past and present as Guzmán. Take a look at the trailer below.
The cordillera of dreams is playing now in limited release. Meanwhile all of Patricio Guzmán’s previous films are now streamable on OVID.tv