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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 1 March 2007
Undoubtedly Missing turns out to be a great piece of cinema, one of the brightest works of political film-maker Costa-Gavras. Based on true events, it successfully captures the chaotic atmosphere of Chile during the first weeks of Pinochet government. Crisp and compelling, the story is based on the vain struggle of an American businessman Ed Horman to recover his son, who vanished without a trace during the helter-skelter following the right-wing political coup.

The general mood of the movie fits the story and its backdrop well with a fine score by Vangelis. Acting two controversial characters, Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek both deliver dazzling performances. Costa-Gavras uses an ingenious technique of flashbacks to give the people more deep background and allows them to draw conclusions from what they may have missed. This is the reason that the movie lacked a bit of clarity to the end and it causes little ambiguity.

Contrary to the movie, that Universal DVD is such a "bare to bones" disc. There are no audio options (English mono only). The transfer is poor, pictures are grainy, and of course it lacks special features. What a shame!!! I think this is a kind of movie that really does deserve special edition treatment...
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on 7 March 2005
One of the great films of the 1980s and one of the greatest political thrillers of all time, shot through with a palpable sense of menace and at times almost unbearable tension. Costa-Gavras takes the true story of the disappearance and murder of an American journalist, Charlie Horman, and uses it to illustrate the wider story of the United States backed overthrow of the democratically elected government of Chile in 1973, and the mass murder the coup perpetrators initiated in an effort to secure their position.
At the heart of the film is one of Jack Lemmon's finest performances - which in a career that included The Apartment, The China Syndrome and Some Like it Hot, is saying something. Sissy Spacek and John Shea are dependably fine in support, underscoring the still relevant point that ideological dogmatism and mule-headed ignorance of the world invariably leads to the killing and maiming of ordinary, loving people.
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Costa-Gavras shot his controversial 'State of Siege' in Chile not long before the violent US-backed Allende coup. Maybe it's that familiarity with the locale that makes Costa-Gavras' 'Missing' seem so authentic.

More than just a startling vision of day-to-day life in the aftermath of a violent coup, there's much more of a feeling for the place and what ordinary people lost in the coup. There's a real sense of chaos in its imagery - dead bodies littering the streets as people try to go about their daily business or floating by in rivers, soldiers chasing and shooting at a white horse through deserted streets or diners on a rooftop garden leaving their means to watch a helicopter gunship shoot at unseen curfew violators. The sheer casual and irrational nature of violence ("You Americans always assume there has to be a reason") gives the film a palpable sense of terror and dread: this is a place where even an earthquake can't get people out onto the dangerous streets after curfew.

The fact that this time round Costa-Gavras had a Hollywood budget to play with helps immensely, but he also has a script based around people who aren't defined strictly by their politics - indeed, the movie is basically a search for `a political neophyte' by a gruff and unlikeable conservative (Jack Lemmon, on excellent form) and the missing man's wife (Sissy Spacek), a search that takes in embassies crowded with asylum seekers, morgues with hundreds of bodies piled almost haphazardly and the national football stadium that has been turned into a vast prison/torture chamber/place of execution. It's an outraged film but it's also one aware of its own impotence - this is a journey from hope to bitter and exhausted acceptance that there is nothing that an individual can do in the face of politically expedient mass murder.

It's easily Costa-Gavras' real enduring masterpiece, having lost none of its power more than a quarter of a century on, and its sobering to think that there was a time when movies like this weren't just mainstream releases, they were also big box-office. It's just a shame that Universal's DVD is such a shoddy disc - it doesn't even have a menu page! This is a film that really does deserve the Criterion treatment, or a special edition at the very least (there is a special edition in France with audio commentary by Costa-Gavras and interviews with the director and Joyce Horman).

As Amazon has unhelpflly combined the reviews for the standard extras-free UK Univeral edition and the US Criterion disc, the extras that are ONLY on the the NTSC Region 1 DVD two-disc set include:

- Video interviews with Costa-Gavras and Joyce Horman (wife of Charles Horman).
- Producing Missing, an interview documentary featuring producers Edward and Mildred Lewis, studio exec Sean Daniel, and Thomas Hauser, author of Missing, the film's source book.
- Interviews from the 1982 Cannes Film Festival with Costa-Gavras, Jack Lemmon, Ed Horman (father of Charles), and Joyce Horman. Unfortunately, as these were made for a live French TV broadcast these are simultaneously translated into French.
- New video essay with Peter Kornbluh, author of The Pinochet File, examining declassified documents concerning the 1973 military coup in Chile and the case of Charles Horman.
- Video highlights from the 2002 Charles Horman Truth Project event honoring the twentieth anniversary of Missing, with actors Sissy Spacek, John Shea, and Melanie Mayron
- Theatrical trailer
- A booklet featuring a new essay by critic Michael Wood, an interview with Costa-Gavras, the U.S. State Department's official response to Missing, and an open letter from Horman family friend Terry Simon.

But buy it anyway for the film itself. It's worth it.
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on 10 May 2008
"Missing" has to be one of the best films I've seen. Although the film couldn't be filmed in Chile due to the regime in place there at the time of filming, the architecture and scenery depicted in the film does indeed look strangely like Santiago. There are several features of the film that stand out - what is particularly effective is the use of 'flashbacks' which help the viewer to gradually gain a clearer picture of what is going on. However, unlike many films which either sanitise and glamorise violence - the violence of the coup is depicted as what it was really like - brutal, chaotic and extreme - you get a real sense of fear, and the constant gunshots in the background remind the viewer of the sickening level of violence that existed in the weeks after the coup. The film is a must-see for anyone with an interest in Chile.
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on 16 December 2012
The message from this superb production has to be "It doesn't matter what you do so long you do it". The dynamo that drives the world is trade and so if it suits your interests to support a military coup in a foreign land get in there and (repeat) do it!

The "winners" are in the driving seat here: the boys in their uniforms with their automatic weapons can have fun potting off people during the hours of curfew (and at other times behind close doors), the diplomats can play loose with the truth, the industrialists will fill their order books for fresh weapons and ammunition and so on.

I cannot agree with another reviewer (3 star) that this film is slanderous towards the USA. Its documentation based upon a reality does not preclude other states of the world from being equally duplicitous and cruel in their handling of foreign affairs.

One is left with only one adjective to describe the world our species has created: "SAD".
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on 17 July 2010
Costa Gavras provides a vivid, frightening and compelling fact-based reconstruction of three Americans caught up in a right wing military coup in a fictitious but very believable South American country. A young couple with distinctly liberal tendencies come to the attention of the new authorities and the young man's father (played by Jack Lemmon) who has distinctly conservative tendencies comes to the country when his son disappears. He is initially hostile to the freewheeling lifestyle of the couple and is annoyed that he has to intervene as he cannot understand why they were in the country in the first place but he gradually relates more closely to his daughter in law (played by Sissy Spacek) and can see her point of view. They soon realise that the coup is not a purely internal matter but it had the fingerprints of the CIA all over it. Fear descends across the country, nightime curfews are viciously enforced, hundreds of people are arrested for no good reason and the bodies of innocent people increasingly fill the streets and the hospitals as the authorities crush any dissent real or impagined. Against this background the couple desperately carry out their search until it reaches a tragic conclusion.

Lemmon and Spacek are superb as the searchers and the film's portrayal of a country falling into the hands of an oppressive fascist regime is exciting, frightening and memorable. All concerned with the work are to be congratulated in creating a film of the highest quality.
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on 21 February 2015
Very moving and real account of the Pinochet's military dictatorship behavior in Chile . Here is one of the examples of the CIA and USA involvement in the violation of Human Rights at the time..and before the coup . The repression affected anyone regardless the nationality of the person.
Here he was a north American journalist who suffer under the regime. Not far from the terrorist nowadays. With the difference this was a state terrorism .See the film Highly recommended
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on 24 October 2013
This is an excellent movie and no doubt it deserves five stars. Since it is drama, not a sci-fi, and it was made in 1982, don't expect any special affect or even special DVD features, back then they simply did not film those "extras". However, I must say the shipping took forever (three weeks) and my anticipation was killing me! If you can order from another company and receive it sooner, go for it!
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on 4 May 2009
It's funny how you finally see a film and find the resonances. I was a student when the American backed coup took place in Chile and a democratically elected government led by Salvador Allende was overthrown and murdered by the miltary led by Augusto Pinochet. I remember all the lapel badges "Solidarity with the People of Chile" and I remember Pinochet being arrested in Britain and how Margaret Thatcher defended him as a defender of freedom. And how a gutless Jack Straw let him off.

The movie directed by Costa Gavras is a sparse no frills piece. Great performances by Sissy Spacek as the wife of the missing American and Jack Lemmon as his father. You always know what the ending is likely to be but the getting there is a real journey as you become part of Jack Lemmon's journey through doubt, cynicism and discovery.

When this film was made many still said that American involvement in the coup was the product of conspiracy theoriste. Now we know it was all true. It doesn't take a great movie to get you there but it helps.
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on 19 February 2008
A compelling and thought-provoking movie with great characterisation and wonderful performances. One that can be watched over and over again.
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