Anna and Ben are settled in rural Chile in the early 1970's. They are very isolated and their only real friends are two Chilean sisters, Eva and Monica. When Ben is stranded in Santiago on ...
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Anna and Ben are settled in rural Chile in the early 1970's. They are very isolated and their only real friends are two Chilean sisters, Eva and Monica. When Ben is stranded in Santiago on the eve of the military takeover of 1973, Anna is livid...and this is made worse by the fact that Eva, the ex-personal assistant to Allende's wife, has been arrested by the soldiers of the new Pinochet regime and taken into custody where she is emotionally and sexually defiled. She is released, only to be further harassed by one of her arresting officers, Raoul, who poses as her protector but wishes to rape her. Meanwhile, Anna becomes involved with a Canadian journalist named Paul, who is compiling information for an extensive journalistic treatment of the coup. Anna and Ben organize an escape for Eva, over the walls of a convent to the safety of an embassy.Written by
In order to achieve the feeling of horror in a scene where a gathering of female prisoners are harassed and psychologically tortured in the nude, director Michael Cacoyannis decided to appeal for volunteers rather than professional actors, asking both his associates and friends. Cacoyannis interviewed women of different nationalities, including English, French, Americans and Greeks. Most of these women had never even seen a film camera, let alone undressed before one. Money was never an incentive for them. Cacoyannis said, "I explained that their inexperience in acting was an advantage, that their lack of artifice, the spirituality of their spontaneous reactions, would transcend physical realism, the way certain paintings can." At first he was not too successful "recruiting" volunteers, but soon found the women he needed. One was a well-known author, another a journalist, three were college professors, others university students, secretaries or just housewives. The shooting of this sequence was completed in five very stressful hours, and the reactions were neither planned nor rehearsed. At the end of the shooting day, their eyes still full of tears, some of them expressed their gratitude for what they called "a unique experience". See more »
Michael Cacoyannis closely choreographs the movements of actors in his films and this, in conjunction with his script for this flabbily constructed work, sadly gives the piece a lightweight feel, inappropriately distanced from the genuine citizenry for whom he purportedly feels sympathy, the entire film therefore going down to artistic defeat, not aided by unsuitable casting. Based upon a novel by American Caroline Richards, the setting is Chile in 1973 directly following the assassination of Marxist president Salvador Allende, when General Augusto Pinochet's military cartel, with United States backing, took over from the elected government, the action following events in the lives of a married upper case American expatriate couple, the Willings, and their close friends the Arayas, a Chilean family from the class of moneyed interests. Although highly dramatic socio-political circumstances form a strong background for the storyline, numerous psychosexual relationships among the characters occupy most of the director's attention, and although humiliating treatment of some women at the hands of Pinochet troops provides melodramatic interest, a viewer might wonder at the lack of any attempt to develop insights into the background of a situation that tore the nation apart, impacting the working class native population largely ignored by Cacoyannis. Shot in Greece, the film benefits from able camera-work, but some wayward casting, notably that of Randy Quaid as a goatish army corporal whose risible attempt at speaking Hispanic flavoured English provides one of many elements of the affair that one will prefer not to remember; Franco Nero is the most effective player at handling the stilted dialogue. A harshly cut 120 minute version has been distributed and is best avoided, since it only serves to increase the incoherence rife within this unsatisfying venture.
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