A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman is an exploration of exile, memory, longing and democracy through the words and memories of playwright/author/activist Ariel ...
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A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman is an exploration of exile, memory, longing and democracy through the words and memories of playwright/author/activist Ariel Dorfman ('Death and the Maiden', 'How to Read Donald Duck', 'Other Septembers'). Born in Argentina, growing up in New York and Chile, Dorfman became cultural advisor to socialist president Salvador Allende in Chile. When the Allende government was toppled in the military coup of September 11, 1973, Dorfman was among a handful of Allende's inner circle to survive. A Promise to the Dead was filmed in the USA, Argentina and Chile in late 2006, coinciding with the death of former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet. Written by
Thank you, Ariel Dorfman, for being able to speak for the Dead. I am sure they would be proud and honored by Dorfman's voice in this movie. It has been several hours since I've seen this documentary, but it just doesn't let go of my thoughts. Not only Dorfman is a witness, a story teller, an intellectual in an exile, he also provides a humble, yet interesting criticism of his own survival of the coup: "Maybe I should have gone there, expose myself and get killed. But I was a coward." He made his self-preservation fear justified by his work and testimony.
But this story is beyond accusation of the political injustice and violent regime. It is also beyond history. Dorfman doesn't need to point a finger, although the story has to be told for the Death he is representing, for the people that "vanished", for the dead bodies, that have been, by making them disappear for their family, "deprived of their own death". The death has been unofficial for them. So was the story of his grandma - Dorfman has to face the guilt of being abroad and the pain of being "deprived" of her death. I also love the fact Death and the Maiden, his most renown work (besides this movie?) is included, because this work is ubiquitous and timeless. You can apply it to any crisis, any abuse of human rights and - any country in the world.
Nemo propheta in patria: Dorfman admits the exile has given him many multicultural dimensions, provided a different perspective for him. He visits his homeland to later return in the USA. A friend of him explains why this is needed, both for the USA and for Chile: his voice needs to be out in the world.
Another turning point in the documentary: in a spirit of true democracy, Dorfman would fight for the rights of Pinochet fans to express their opinion. Puzzled and shocked by Pinochet's heart attack, Dorfman explores the temptations of revengeful feelings, only to reject them instantly: "I don't want anybody's death, not even my worst enemies'. I want him to be prosecuted." Similarities with Milosevic, anyone? Am I the only one who sees the man is a Nobel prize material?! I LOVE IT and am looking forward to see it again at least twice. The messages in it are too strong to be neglected and overlooked. Furthermore, you will not be bored for a single moment. This is emotionally loaded, well timed movie. I did not rate it 10 just because I empathize politically, I strongly believe this is an excellent made masterpiece.
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