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Alsino, a boy of 10 or 12, lives with his grandmother in a remote area of Nicaragua. He's engulfed in the war between rebels and government troops when a US advisor orders the army to open a staging area by the boy's hamlet. Alsino tries to be a child, climbing trees with a girl, looking through his grandfather's trunk of mementos and trying to fly; he goes to town to sell a saddle, has his first drink and is taken to a brothel. But the war surrounds him. The US advisor takes Alsino on a chopper flight, but he's unimpressed. The soldiers' cruelties awake rebel sympathies in Alsino, and after an army assault backfires, the lad is fully baptized into the conflict. Written by
Alsino y el cóndor (1982)--called Alsino and the Condor in the U.S.--is an extraordinary film about an extraordinary time. Director Miguel Littin presents the story of a young boy, whose belief is that he literally can fly. Of course, physically he can't fly. However, his heart and his soul can fly because he realizes the possibility of his country throwing off a brutal dictatorship.
Naturally, the film has rough edges. Nicaragua in 1982 was a country with rough edges. The Sandinistas had thrown off the yoke of the Somoza family dictatorship, and Nicaragua was engaged in defending itself against U.S.-financed counter-revolutionaries--the "Contras."
I traveled to Nicaragua three times in the 1980's, and can attest to the historical and political accuracy of this film. This is a patriotic film, but it's not propaganda. It's a film about a successful revolution. We in the U.S. have Revolutionary War films because we're proud of our overthrow of a tyrant. The Nicaraguans made this patriotic film to offer their story of the overthrow of a tyrant.
Alsino and the Condor works on both a artistic and political level. Check it out. (Incidentally, and for the record, King George was definitely a good old boy in comparison to Nicaragua's Somoza.)
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