Marxism, dictatorship, ultra-liberalism, democracy… A country on the move

Arrest of political opponents in 1973. Image taken from the documentary “Chile, by reason or by force” (2022), by Lucie Pastor and Paul Le Grouyer.


Wealth of filmed archives, diversity of testimonies collected, clarity of commentary. By bringing together these three elements in their documentary devoted to the complex and tormented history of Chile since 1970, Lucie Pastor and Paul Le Grouyer have done a great job.

To understand the paradoxes of a fractured Chilean society, where the desire for social justice collides with the conservatism of part of the population, it was necessary to construct a clically chronological documentary so as not to lose the thread of the twists and turns of a political history, economic and social as violent as it is unpredictable.

Marxism, military dictatorship, ultra-liberalism, democracy, Chile is on the move and has nothing to do with a peaceful country. Thus, from the election of Salvador AllendeSeptember 4, 1970, to that of the young (35 years old then) Gabriel Boric, December 19, 2021ping through the long period of dictatorship (from 1973 to 1990) ofAugusto Pinochetthe recent history of the country is taking shape before our eyes.

Shocking images

What is striking in this documentary is the presence of cameras at the heart of extremely violent events. In the 1970s and 1980s, smartphones did not exist, but the courage of the cameramen of European or American channels made it possible to record shocking images. Like these charges of unleashed carabinieri in close-up, these brutal live arrests, these blows to women on the ground.

In Santiago, we also filmed tense face-to-face encounters between Allende supporters and far-right activists. With the famous slogan “The united people will never be defeated” answers a “The united left is a bitch”, which gives an idea of ​​the state of mind of the moment.

The images of the bombardment of the presidential palace of La Moneda, on September 11, 1973, by military aviation are followed by those, rarely seen, which shot in the following days. Searches, arrests, beatings, bodies mutilated and fished out of the river that crosses the capital, everything is filmed.

Even American television, however little suspected of pro-Allende sympathies, echoes a situation that is not normal: “This country, yesterday one of the freest in Latin America, has become a military dictatorship. The junta claims to eradicate Marxism, but without specifying when and if it will allow the return of democracy”comments the American reporter in a Santiago cordoned off by the army.

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Beyond the shocking images, the interest of the documentary also lies in the explanations given by the multiple witnesses questioned, whether they are activists or political leaders, such as the former socialist president (2014-2018) Michelle Bachelet.

In the Chilean slums, in 1973. Image taken from the documentary “Chile, by reason or by force” (2022), by Lucie Pastor and Paul Le Grouyer.

From the pain of the many expelled, forced to leave their country for many years, to the daily fear experienced by the opponents who remained in Chile, from the deep economic misery affecting a large part of the population to the privileges of a minority, everything is shelled.

Understanding post-Pinochet Chile is no easier. How to reconcile a divided and bruised country? Apparently no one has found the recipe yet. In September 2022, the draft of a new constitution providing for rights in the areas of health, education, social security and gender parity was rejected by nearly 62% of voters.

Chile, by reason or by forcedocumentary by Lucie Pastor and Paul Le Grouyer (Fr., 2022, 90 min). On, until December 10.

Alain Constant

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