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His159 film review. Manchuca. History Movie Review (Movie Review Sample)


Assignment: Historical Film Review of Machuca (~1000 words)

In 1973, a U.S.-backed military coup replaced Chile’s democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende (1970-73) with the brutal dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet (1973-90). Many factors—domestic and international—contributed to Allende’s overthrow, but one crucial set of actors was women’s organizations. Both on the Right and Left end of the political spectrum, Chilean women that had abstained from politics for generations rose to play critical roles. What can the case of Chile teach us about women’s movements, both Right and Left?

The film Machuca (directed by Andrés Wood, 2004) tells a dramatic story of a cross-class friendship during the final moments of the Allende government and the onset of the Pinochet dictatorship. Yet it also reveals much about how the complex social and political tensions during these turbulent years of Chilean history were experienced by the Chilean people themselves, particularly women and young people.

Using class discussions, and the assigned readings as your base, write a 4-5 page (~1000 words) historical review of the film. How does the film resonate with what you know about women’s experiences in Cold War Latin America? What does this story of Pedro Machuca and Gonzalo Infante and their families reveal about the divergent social views and political aspirations that divided Chilean society at the time? How did women become active participants in Cold War ideas? How did the domestic become politicized? What does the clash of these opposing social and political projects say about competing visions for how people should live, who they should love, and how they should raise their families? In sum, how does the film illustrate the ways in which gender dynamics intersected with Cold War politics?

A typical film review is primarily concerned with conveying to readers how entertaining a film is and, by extension, how well it is written, produced, and directed. A historical film review does more. It analyzes a film in relation to the actual historical people and events that are portrayed on screen. In other words, it critiques a film based on the reviewer’s (that’s you) knowledge of history as it is known and debated by historians. Keep in mind that your focus on history does not necessarily mean you will ignore the cinematic aspects of the film. Rather you will explain how these cinematic elements help the filmmaker to convey a particular message about the historical circumstances that he/she is addressing through his/her film. What do you know about the history of Allende’s government and its demise that might explain the reasoning behind some of the images and dialogue in the film? Keep in mind that this film was released in 2004, fourteen years after the Pinochet dictatorship had come to an end. In the early 2000s, Chile was plagued by the politics of memory. The way in which Chileans looked back on Allende’s government and the dictatorship that ousted it, was a highly politicized issue. Chileans were still divided between those that supported the dictatorship and those that opposed it. The way in which Chileans constructed the historical memory of this period then, was crucial not only to achieving truth and justice for the victims of the dictatorship’s political violence but also for reuniting a country that had become so deeply divided since the 1970s. This film was part of that process of constructing a historical memory that satisfied both of these aims and thus the filmmaker made particular choices for this film with the politics of memory in mind.

Your essay will be graded based on how well you evaluate the film from a historical perspective.

This will require you to
1) provide a brief summary of the setting and key characters in the film;
2) explain what the film is trying to do (elucidate its angle or point of view); and most importantly,
3) analyze the film based on your historical knowledge of women’s movements during and after the Allende era.

Your evaluation should draw heavily on lectures and course readings all of which should provide ample context and historical interpretation of gender politics and women’s experiences in Chile.

Include correct citations. Use regular fonts (12 pts) and 1-inch margins. Put your name at the top of the first page. Papers that are submitted late will be marked down one grade step (i.e. from B+ to B) for each 24-hour period after the start of the class.


Your Name
Subject and Section
Professor's Name
April 17, 2020
Machuca is a 2004 Chilean film written and directed by Andrés Wood. The film depicts the struggles that resulted in a violent incident in experience by three pre-teens in Santiago, Chile, during the overthrow of the current President Santiago Allende.
In 1970. Chile had its first Marxist to be elected, Salvador Allende. Living in Santiago, Chile is a boy named Gonzalo Infantile. Gonzalo is a strawberry-faced, meek, bullied boy from a middle-class family. His life turns around upon meeting Pedro Machuca, a native, poor but brave Chilean boy, in St. Patrick's English School. The unlikely friendship of the two blossomed as they, together, stood up from their school bullies. This was further strengthened when Pedro's socialist, fearless, attractive cousin, Silvana, joined in. The trio later found themselves enjoying while selling flags and cigarettes to opposing political party rallyists and while exploring their sexualities. Gonzalo and Pedro's friendship eventually drifts apart as social and political war unfurls around them, and the social and economic divide seems to become unbridgeable. The end of their friendship was preluded the coup d'état staged against Allende. The overthrow of Allende lead to the rule of the military junta. 

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