January 27, 2020  (Web Review)

The Cordillera of Dreams

(2019) 85 min. In Spanish w/English subtitles. DVD: $448. DRA. Icarus Films. PPR.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

The final documentary in filmmaker Patricio Guzmán’s trilogy about his Chilean homeland—assessed in the wake of the political turmoil the country suffered in the late 20th century–follows the topographical approach of the first two films, Nostalgia for the Light (VL-1/12) and The Pearl Button (VL-3/16), which respectively used the exploration of the sky in the northern Atacama Desert and the influence of the southern Patagonian seacoast to express the nation’s painful history and yearning for peace. The Cordillera of Dreams employs the snowcapped Andes mountains, which run the length of the country, as a metaphor for Chile’s identity in the face of challenges from within and without. Eye-popping shots of the majestic peaks and valleys are juxtaposed with comments from Chilean artists and intellectuals about the mystery that they represent, while extensive footage from the archive of videographer Pablo Salas documents the brutality of the Pinochet era (Salas himself mourns how the country’s copper resources have been ceded to the forces of global capitalism, increasing the gap between rich and poor). Guzmán—who lived abroad since fleeing Chile in 1973 after being arrested by the victorious junta for being a supporter of fallen Marxist president Salvador Allende–adds notes of personal memoir as he visits the apartment complex where he grew up and describes his early career as a filmmaker covering the country’s political landscape. The overall result is a fitting capstone to the director’s elegy for Chile’s tortured past that restates the trilogy’s fundamental point: like the Andes, the nation survives, but people must remember their past. Recommended. Aud: C, P. (F. Swietek)