12 user 91 critic

Nostalgia for the Light (2010)

Nostalgia de la luz (original title)
Not Rated | | Documentary | 17 March 2011 (USA)
2:05 | Trailer
A documentary about two different searches conducted in the Chilean Atacama Desert: one by astronomers looking for answers about the history of the cosmos, and one by women looking for the remains of loved ones killed by Pinochet's regime.


Patricio Guzmán
9 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview:
Gaspar Galaz Gaspar Galaz ... Self - Astronomer
Lautaro Núñez Lautaro Núñez ... Self - Archeologist
Luís Henríquez Luís Henríquez ... Self
Miguel Lawner Miguel Lawner ... Self - Architect
Victor González Victor González ... Self - Engineer
Vicky Saaveda Vicky Saaveda ... Self
Violeta Berrios Violeta Berrios ... Self
George Preston George Preston ... Self - Astronomer
Valentina Rodríguez Valentina Rodríguez ... Self


In Chile's Atacama Desert, astronomers peer deep into the cosmos in search for answers concerning the origins of life. Nearby, a group of women sift through the sand searching for body parts of loved ones, dumped unceremoniously by Pinochet's regime. Written by Anonymous

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Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »


[first lines]
[in Spanish, using English subtitles]
Gaspar Galaz - Astronomer: [voiceover] The old German telescope, that I've seen once again after so many years, is still working in Santiago Chile. I owe my passion for astronomy to it. These objects, which could have come from my childhood home, remind me of that far off moment when one thinks one has left childhood behind. At that time, Chile was a haven of peace isolated from the world. Santiago slept in the foothills of the Cordillera, detached from the rest of the ...
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Referenced in Rewind This! (2013) See more »

User Reviews

Less a documentary more a beautifully shot meditation – thought provoking and engaging
20 July 2013 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

I had heard this was a documentary about the Chilean Disappeared of the Pinochet regime and as such it took me a while to decide to watch it since one does tend to lean towards easier viewing after a day at work. I had recently been on a run of documentaries about heavier subjects and decided that this would be next, expecting it to be very much about pain, death and loss. I was a bit thrown when the film opens and appears to be about astronomy but I went with it as I figured it was best not to let what I assumed guide the film but rather let it lead me!

What I found was that this isn't really a documentary in the traditional sense; yes it is real life and fact based, but we don't have a specific subject revealed or examined in the way you would expect from a historical documentary. Instead what we get is more of a musing or mediation that plays like a combination of documentary, poetry, art and science (non) fiction. This sounds pretentious but it really isn't and the way it is presented means that discussions about how there is no actual "present" and that our atoms come from the stars sit comfortably next to discussions with a woman whose parents were disappeared when she was 1 year old and a 70 year old who goes daily into the desert endlessly searching for bones of those dumped there decades prior. All of it works and is equally engaging and, more importantly, compliments each other in a way I didn't expect.

Content-wise the film has a real peaceful beauty to it while also looking at terrible situations with a lot of pain and loss. It is fitting that the film is also visually beautiful. The use of shots of galaxies spinning through the clear sky over the desert is a real help to this, but even smaller moments of a woman picking through dirt are really well shot and do not contrast with the shots of space. The visuals add to the content really well and I was surprised by how engaged I was; it wasn't that it informed me about a lot (although it did a bit) but more that it invited me to think with it, to muse with it and I really enjoyed that sensation.

As an idea it really shouldn't work at all and experience tells me it should have come out as a pretentious piece of soul searching like an art student did it, but it is nothing of the sort. It is beautiful, engaging, thought-provoking and really well filmed and constructed. Go with it – it is very good.

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France | Germany | Chile | Spain


Spanish | English

Release Date:

17 March 2011 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Nostalgia for the Light See more »

Filming Locations:

Atacama Desert, Chile See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,664, 16 January 2011

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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