OVID.tv Presents THE CORDILLERA OF DREAMS Film Review — The Nostalgic Gaze of a Migrant Artist

The film opens with a breathtaking drone shot of the Andes which lends this film its name: the cordillera. The white snow juxtaposes the dark rock it sits on, and the blue sky above. The melody of the violins adds to this overwhelming experience, that from the start shows us that this cordillera contains multitudes that go far beyond the surface. Its highs and lows, peaks and valleys, almost seem to mimic the narrator’s feelings: a deep love, admiration and longing for a country he felt forced to leave, as well as a clear understanding of a dark history that changed Chile forever - Pinochet’s dictatorship. It is within this duality that the film exists.

This may be the first time we see the cordillera in the film, but it is certainly not the last. Images of the Andes are dispersed throughout the film, as, in Guzman’s own words, this cordillera is a metaphor for all the dreams he has had of his country while away. We see a comprehensive history of this time, through the words of artists and images of the mountains. 

OVID.tv’s The Cordillera of Dreams Shows the Past is Not in the Past

The Cordillera of Dreams, besides gifting us with an aerial view of the Andes, also features several speakers (all of them artists) who share their own experiences of the dictatorship. They present us with a vivid image of Chile under Pinochet’s influence, through a nostalgic gaze. Each story told inevitably makes its way to our heart. The singer Javiera Parra, for instance, describes being a child in her school’s playground. She would line up by the fence with all the other small children, grabbing at the bars separating them from the outside world, mesmerized by the military tanks passing by them in the street. She describes the agonizing feeling, with tears forming in her eyes, of realizing that all the adults around her were just as terrified as she was. Each artist who speaks through the course of the film gives an equally compelling insight. The Andes mirror the horrors narrated, as images of terrifyingly large avalanches of smoke fill the screen.

Through the second half of the film, Pablo Salas takes the lead. Salas, a Chilean filmmaker who has recorded the last 40 years of Chilean history on tape, shares his images as well as his insights on Chile, past, and present. As he speaks, shocking instances of police brutality are caught with his lens flash on the screen. These images were abundant at the time, Salas says. And nowadays, despite there being less overt violence, there is still a legacy of oppression left in the country.   The camera helps portray this point by showing us the empty rooms of Pinochet’s old office that seem only recently abandoned, despite the broken chairs, stack of files with yellowing papers, and dusty windows that confirm nobody had been inside for quite some time. 

The narrator leaves us with one request, that Chile would once again find its joy.

For all those interested in historical and political documentaries, this is a perfect choice.

If you are looking for a fast-paced, plot-heavy movie, this may not be the pick for you.


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Director: Patricio Guzman
Writer: Patricio Guzman


Jorge Baradit
Vicente Gajardo
Francisco Gazitúa
Pablo Salas

To watch the film, visit the OVID.tv page for THE CORDILLERA OF DREAMS

Images courtesy of OVID.tv

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Madalena Martins

About the Author: Madalena Martins

Madalena is a young writer and actress based in Chicago. She was born and raised in Lisbon (Portugal- the home of soccer and custard tarts) then moved to Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina), and finally made it to the United States! Her international background resulted in a deep love for languages, cultures, travelling, and food. She is also a lover of theatre, cinema, music, and literature. In her free time, she enjoys writing, going to the beach, doing improv comedy and sketches with friends, talking to strangers, and suffocating her dog with love.

Besides this, she is interested in climate activism, feminism, and queer studies, and is interested in the intersections between these fields.

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