History of film in Latin America Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 22 September 2016

History of film in Latin America

Film is a medium of entertainment where sequence of images is projected on a screen creating an illusion of movement (Parkinson, 24). Film industry started in 19th century as a tool of entertainment, communication and mass media. The motion pictures technology had a great impact on politics and society at large (Ibid, 45). Latin America is the region in Central and South America. The region has 21 countries with the main languages being Spanish, French and Portuguese. Main races that occupy the regions are Amevidians, who are majority in Bolivia and Peru African, Asians, Caucasians, Mestizos, Mulletoes and Zambos.

Most of Latin Americans are Christian and mostly catholic Christian . Latin America has a diverse culture, but generally, the Latin America culture is influenced by Africa culture especially in Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, Haiti, Cuba and Costa Rica. Europe culture which were mainly brought by Spanish, Portuguese and French. And the native culture of people who inhabited the continent prior to arrival of Europeans (Parkinson, 61). Latin America has rich and diverse film industry. The industry started in mid 20th century as entertainment tool. Mexicans, Brazilian, Cubans and Argentineans have rich history in filming.

They have also made significant step in development of film industry. In Argentina, cinema become prominent in first half of 20th C, however, it suffered during the 1976- 83 military dictatorship (Parkinson, 36). But the industry re-emerged and even produced the academy award winner, the official story in 1985. In Brazil, cinemas and movies become important tools in the society, in mid 20th century. Cuban cinema also developed tremendously especially after it enjoyed government support since the Cuban revolution. They have produced important film-makers like Tomas Gutierrez Alea.

Mexican cinema in the golden era of 1940s greatly boasted the film industry. Mexican films have received recognition world over (Ibid, 54). Beside film being used as an entertainment tool, it has also been used as mass media tool to shape the political order in many Latin America countries. Political struggle to have government respect the citizen rights were mainly carried through the film medium. Latin America experienced many coups and revolution in first half of 20th century as people struggle for freedom and right which they were denied by the repressive regimes (Missing).

Cinema and print media was used to call people to demand for their human rights and speak against cruelty by the repressive governments. Repression is control by holding the subject down. It amounts to forced subjugation (The Official Story). Human rights and freedom are basic rights to which all human beings are entitled to. They include civil, political, cultural, and economic rights. Examples of human rights and freedom includes right to life, right to liberty, freedom of expression, freedom from discrimination on any basis, freedom of assembly and association, freedom of worship and right of owning property etc.

Many of political regimes in Latin America countries in early 20th century denied their citizen their basic rights. This precipitated revolution and social-political struggles most of which were met with crude repression (Men with Guns). Artist and film-maker, used cinemas, movies to express the people’s call for their civil rights. Literature artist also used their skills and knowledge to express the people’s call for their rights. One of the best film work set is Latin America that depict the political situation that was in 20th century is ‘Missing’.

The movie was first released in 1987 in US and was directed by Costa-Gavras. It is a powerful political drama that revolve around the life before and after a 1973 coup is a south American – country (even though the movies does not reveal it refers to the Chile) which was very volatile the movie capture the who whole situation as it was, strict curfews, armed police terrosing people, many people close to 30,000 being killed, mass kidnapping, torture and ‘disappearance’ of people who were considered leaning to former regime (Missing).

The movie is based on a true story of an America-activist and writer Charles Horman who disappeared in Chile at the height of America-backed violent military coup in 1978 (). This story was also in a book by Thomas Hauser. The film focuses on struggle of Horman wife Beth (Sissy Spacek) and conservative father End Horman (Jack Lemman) as they search for Charles. The film vividly show how the oppressive ruling junta oppressed people in the streets, both Sissy speak and her farther-in-law were stonewalled not only as the ruling military but also the America consulate (Missing).

They only leant later that the American government had been betraying their effort to find Charles and that America government was friendly to the South America tyrant. Violation of human rights and repression is clearly present where the military dictator impose curfew and torture to all those who speak against the civil strife which was perpetuated by the ruling junta (Ibid,) The US government which also played key role in the coup also is keen to muffle all voices that were against the forced takeover.

This is seen as the American embassy betrayed Ed (jack) and Beth (Sissy)’s effort to find and reconcile with Charles. Media and press freedom was suppressed as the writers and journalists were not allowed to cover the killings, torture, raping and kidnapping. Freedom of movement was denied as 24 hours curfew are enforced, there was gross violation of human right as people were butchered, kidnapped, jailed and women raped (). Violence existed as there was military and tyranny regime which disposed the civil government led by twice-elected Salvador Allende.

President Salvador Allende led a leftist regime which the US government was keen to topple so on to reduce the spread of communism in the western world. The effort of CIA to block president Allende to vie for the second term by spreading propagandas and supporting dissidents to oppose Allende’s government also was a major driver that plugged Chile to civil strife. Violence is perpetrated by corrupt political regimes which are just out to fulfill their selfish interests (). Military machine is used to enforce cruel order and untold suffering to the citizen and mostly for those who are perceived as opposing the ruling power ().

In this movie we have seen that, in civil strife, many citizens usually dies, other maimed and the survivors have to live with fear, and in a suppressed political environment (). Many who survive these ordeals use films and other mass media tools to express what they are going through and call for need to address their plight. Victims are the citizens while victimizers are politicians who fight to retain or get into power (). The film was an eye opener to what victims of coup have to undergo as selfish power hungry dictators fight to access or cling on power.

It also pointed how influence from interested foreign government can bring hell on the life especially in politically volatile countries. The ‘Missing’ film describe how a south-America country goes through change of political regime from civil to military regime led by ruthless junta which caused gross human right violation (). The film explains well what civilians underwent in the 1973 coup the curfews, torture, kidnappings and ‘disappearance’ of those who voice out the suffering of the civilians ().

The visual effects of events during and after the coup as shown in the movie has a strong emotional impact to the viewer that best explain and communicates human right violations and repression enforced by military. ‘Men with guns’ is an American political drama film written and directed by John Sayles. Set is unrevealed South American country it’s a story about a man who discovers political events that were going on in his country (Men with guns). It was first released in Canada in 1997 and was filmed in Mexico. The plot of the movie start as Dr.

Fuentes (Federico Huppi) an old medical profession who had been teaching young people to provide health care to poverty-stricken citizen in a country where small-scale agricultural communities struggle to make end meet (Ibid). He is described as being ignorant of political event in his country. After Dr. Fuentes heard rumors that his former students are lost and possibly dead he decides to go and investigate the issue. Later Dr Fuentes discover that his student have been killed by ‘men with gun’ indicating that there has been people executing people who oppose them and damp them in the jungle (Men with guns).

This was done to repress the guerillas who where opposing the junta rule, as Dr Fuentes moved deeper into the hill, he teams up with Padre porillo ( a defrocked priest who lost his faith), Domingo (a deserter from the army), conejo (a boy who survive by stealing) and Graciela (a woman who turned mute after she was raped). Dr Fuentes discovered that army officer were killing, torturing and raping those who were opposed to the military regime, especially young activist.

Dr Fuentes’s journey describes clearly the weight of price to pay to bridge between not knowing and knowing, silence and acknowledgement assumption and truth (Men with guns). Just like ‘Missing’, this film exposes repression and human right violation meted out to civilians by military regimes. The victims are still citizens who struggle for their life and standing for their rights, freedoms and beliefs. The film depicts political process during 1960 – 80 where most Latin America countries experience revolution and military coups.

Unlike the other, this film describes and emphasis the needs to find out what others in a country are going through. ‘Men with guns’ teaches us that although we are alone in our personal struggle to find information, freedom and right we are never alone in our common humanity struggle to freedom and rights. This is so on the doctor, the priest, the soldier, and the mute woman found themselves in same mission to get the truth and acknowledge it (Ibid). ‘The official story’ is another political thriller that revolves around story of a single family.

Directed by Roger Ebert, it was first released in 1985 (The Official story). In the movie, Alicia is married to Robert, wealthy, powerful man with government connection. They have adopted a girl. Alicia is ignorant of political situation in Argentina until Anna an old high school friend enters in her life (Ibid). Anna narrated to Alicia how her lover a leftist ‘disappeared’ and she was kidnapped and tortured. She later discovers what was going on when she came across demonstration by family member of a missing person ().

She began to realize that her husband was part of repressive government and their adopted child may be stolen from a mother who was a political prisoner (The Official story). Alicia meets an old woman who may be the grandmother of the adopted daughter and they become close (Ibid). They found strength in each other. Like the ‘Men with guns’ the movie demonstrates that there could be crimes being inflicted on other while certain class or group of people are innocently unaware. In this film, army officer are killing leftists and those who are opposed to the government.

There is a gross violation of human rights and repression by government. The victims are the citizens who stand for their right. The movie clearly demonstrates how repressive regimes commit civil crime and mass murder without awareness, acknowledgement from the internal community. It vividly captures the political process that many Latin America counties went through in late 20h century (The Official story). ‘Of Love and Shadows’ is a political drama novel written by Isabel Allende. Isabel is a Chilean writer who is president Salvador Allende’s niece (Isabel, 42).

The book is a story of love and shadows of political commitment. The story centers on a daughter of a wealthy family and son of a Spanish exile with whom she becomes involved (Ibid, 32). Both of them, as a reporter and photographer, uncovered a hideout crime that puts not only their love but also their life at risk. The book is set in a country under military dictatorship where arrest, disappearance and executions are rampant. Irene a reporter and Francisco a photographer are prepared to risk everything for the sake of truth and justice.

They discovered crimes by the ruling military to those who opposed or undermine the military regime. At the end Irene, a daughter of a wealthy family which was backing the military regime and Francisco, son of a Marxist professor who was opposed to junta rule, are caught up in terror and violence (Ibid, 46). Like the three films, this book is about repressive regimes that was common in many South American countries in the late 20th century . The victim are citizens who stand against the repression and human right violation.

This book demonstrates what majority of Latin American went through during revolution and political regimes coups. The novel helped to create awareness of crimes that military regime and political tyrant inflicted on citizens and hence call for intervention. The book vividly describes physical, mental and psychological effects of crime and human right violation to individual and society as whole. It shows that love can overcome hate as the two passionate lovers marshal on despite what they go through (Isabel, 76). ‘Child of dark’ is a diary written by Carolina Maria de Jesus in 1960.

The diary contains what Carolina went through in her life in a slum of Sao Paulo, Brazil (Lavine, 24). The dairy contains what Carolina faced in her life as a fevelado (slum dweller) and political and social facts which were present during Carolina life. She writes how poverty and desperation caused people to compromise their dignity to get food (Ibid, 35). Carolina vividly describe the dreadful life around her life, but despite these she forget to have better life and gave her three children the best through writing (Lavine, 45).

Her writing drew attention of politician who tried to involve agencies to give relief to the poor, however these projected faded. This diary shows how government avoided the social welfare obligations to the poor citizens as they focus on upper income class welfare (Ibid, 84). In conclusion, the three films and the literature works where very important in advocating for the writes of the citizen and exposing violation by some government. The films demonstrated the political history of Latin America countries and political process they underwent to achieve democracy and political freedom.

Free History of film in Latin America Essay Sample


  • Subject:

  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 22 September 2016

  • Words:

  • Pages:

Let us write you a custom essay sample on History of film in Latin America

for only $16.38 $13.9/page

your testimonials