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I've been surprised at how negative--and vehemently negative--most of the comments posted about this film have been. I saw the film for the first time last night, and if I had time, I'd go again today. This film is a fascinating documentary, affording us a rare, perhaps unprecedented, fly-on-the-wall look at a coup in progress.
Most of the complaints I've seen about this film are ideological in nature--i.e., reviewers who oppose Chavez are upset that the film presents him so sympathetically. Though I myself am not a Chavez fan, neither am I moved by complaints that this film is one-sided, propagandistic, etc. When I go to see an arthouse film--especially one with a title like "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"--I'm not really expecting to see the kind of conscientious effort at even-handedness I'd expect from, say, PBS's "Frontline." I don't mind that the filmmakers have constructed a view of events that's sympathetic to Chavez, given that the whole point of the film is to challenge an already widely disseminated anti-Chavez representation of those same events. It's not as if the pro-Carmona folks who run Venezuela's private news stations haven't had a chance to air their version, no?
Besides, I'm not convinced that this documentary *is* unreservedly pro-Chavez. Particularly at the beginning, the film does not shy away from showing Chavez as a second Peron--another Latin American colonel turned populist demagogue. We see how he promotes a personal cult; we see how he encourages the poor to view him as their benefactor, someone who might buy them cement or intervene in their personal legal entanglements. The scene on the plane where Chavez discusses globalization doesn't exactly make him look like a sophisticated analyst of current events. And after that bizarre scene where he quotes poetry to explain how he came to know his grandfather was a freedom-fighter, not a murderer (with Simon Bolivar casting what look like incredulous, sidelong glances from where he stands framed in a painting on the wall), it's not hard to see why the opposition has questioned Chavez's sanity.
That said, the film clearly invites us to root for Chavez and his people during the coup attempt. And it clearly wants us to hiss at Carmona, and the privileged wealthy, and the fat cats who used their control of private media outlets to suppress the truth about what was going on in the presidential palace. One of the points that this film drove home for me is how important the media have become in shaping--not just reporting--events, and how frighteningly easy it is for a few people to control the public's understanding of events. That this film itself is an example of trying to control the public's understanding of an event is ironic but not scandalous. (Welcome to postmodernity.)
In any case, the film's point about media manipulation is well taken and powerfully made. If nothing else, the film offers an exhilarating ride, well worth the price of a non-matinee ticket, and it will provide plenty of conversation material for afterwards at the coffeehouse. Do not miss this film!
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