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It's Raining on Santiago back to product details

Still shocking after all these years...
written by talltale December 2, 2006 - 8:33 PM PST
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful
On one level, it is bizarre that the French-Bulgarian co-production IT'S RAINING ON SANTIAGO never received an American theatrical release. Made in 1974, it boasts a raft of famous international stars--from Jean-Louis Trintignant to Bibi Andersson, Laurent Terzieff and Annie Girardot--and addresses the Pinochet-led military coup against Chile's democratically-elected Salvador Allende, a subject much discussed here in the U.S. at the time of the coup (1973). Goodness knows, there were plenty of us liberals back then who would have bought a ticket or two. And yet. This still shocking movie dared to say--thirty years ago--that the U.S. government was involved in helping the fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet manage his coup--which led to nearly two decades of murder, torture and constant repression against the people of Chile. Well, perhaps in 1975, Americans weren't ready for news like this. (It was not until 1982 that Costa-Gavras made "Missing".)

Directed and written by the late Chilean filmmaker Helvio Soto, the movie could certainly be better in terms of professional moviemaking skills. It jumps around in time from the coup, back to Allende's election, and then forward again toward the coup; it lacks pacing and style (think of "Z"); and yet it manages to build up an enormous head of steam--fear, foreboding, sadness and then utter depression--as the actual coup approaches and its dreadful aftermath buries an entire country.

The film does not need its starry cast, as good as each actor may be. (I suspect these famous performers wanted to make the movie due to their solidarity with the cause, but who knows?) The scenes featuring ordinary people work best and convey a real sense of what was going on in Chile at the time. Perhaps the most important point that the film makes is to show us how the "right" managed to gang up on the "left," arranging for a continued lack of staples--from food to medical care--and blaming all this on the incompetence of the Allende regime. There is not that much bloodshed, torture or gore shown us, but what appears should be enough to sicken most audiences. To view "It's Raining on Santiago" (a code announced via radio to signal the overthrow of the Allende regime) in our current times is to be reminded in a most salutary manner how frail a democratically elected government can be--certainly in the south of the Americas, but quite possibly in the north, as well.


(Average 7.18)
11 Votes
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