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VINE VOICEon 17 April 2006
"Machuca" will undoubtedly turn out to be the seminal film about the democratic Marxist revolution that took place in Chile in the early Seventies which was subsequently destroyed by Pinochet's CIA backed military junta . "Machuca" conveys superbly the bitter class hatred that developed under Allende's rule; a period where the Chilean poor asserted themselves socially under a sympathetic government ,while the bourgeoisie fretted about having their property expropriated and nationalised. This class struggle is ,appropriately enough, played out mainly in a class of an elite Catholic boys school in Santiago , where, under the tutelage of a radical priest , a substantial number of poor children from the "barrios" are introduced into the school. This leads to class conflict in the class, but also to a close friendship between a rich boy ,Gonzalo , and a poor boy, Machuca, which ultimately ends in tragedy, as anyone with a knowledge of Chilean history at that time would expect. "Machuca" is not only a political and social commentary about a dramatic historical period, but it is also an exceptional "coming of age" tale that portrays close friendships, first loves and family relationships very realistically and accurately. The acting from the young cast is excellent , as is the cinematography. There are many memorable scenes and images in "Machuca" , a left wing film that exposes liberal democracy as merely a dainty facade for naked class rule ,which is totally expendable if the interests of the ruling class are directly threatened.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 20 December 2015
Machuca is set in Chile in 1973, and tells of the friendship of two boys aged about 11 in a religious school that has embarked on a scheme to bring in poor children. Pablo Machuca is one of these, whereas the other boy, Gonzalo, is from a wealthy family, if not a very happy one. It is very much a political film, as well as a personal one, in that a state of civil unrest permeates the whole film, going through the events that led from Salvador Allende's socialist government, with its noble social agenda, to the military right-wing junta that displaced it with a display of guns and force, under General Pinochet. It is a sad chapter both nationally and in terms of the story of the two boys, but because of their youth there is a certain amount that is life-affirming in spite of these factors. The director Andres Wood has found an intimate style of filming that covers a range of themes with rare sensitivity. There are some explicit references to Louis Malle's Au Revoir Les Enfants, not least in the character of the priest, Father McEnroe, who runs the school with a rare courage and altruism, and you feel Wood has been quite influenced by Malle - also Le souffle au coeur in the portrait of the unfaithful mother who is nevertheless devoted to her son. In this film the portrayal is less attractive though, and perhaps less good in that we are perplexed by her actions as no doubt Gonzalo is. It is an inspired piece of filmmaking, though, visually interesting, and particularly good in the portrayal of the children. He really seems to get into their world with a remarkable authenticity, something which can also be said of the soundtrack, which has a very 70s flavour, adding to the film's appeal.
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on 30 March 2006
This film is really good! I watched the film with my mother who is Chilean and had to leave Chile when the military coup happened in 1973. She said the film is exactly like things used to be back then. There loads of funny parts and really sad ones too! I would recommend this film to anyone who is intrested in World Politics or like watching Foriegn/Cultural films. A really good watch!!!
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VINE VOICEon 29 March 2013
To reclaim back from a period of silence and to prise open Chile in the period before the coup of 1973,Andreas Wood has directed the film Machuca,about the coming of age of children,based upon his own personal memories and those of other people he's interviewed from the period,both those who were children then and the priest involved. Told through their eyes,especially Gonzalo(Matias Quer),from a wealthy middle-class neighbourhood,and Pedro Machuca (Mateluna),who lives in a nearby shantytown.The stress is on the social aspects of the class system,the gulf between the rich and poor.Made in the tradition of school films like Au Revoir Les Enfants,Kes and If.The private school in question is St.Patrick's School of English where they meet when an idealistic priest admits children from poor families,and they learn about each other's very different worlds,where they develop a strong bond.

Clearly the politics is in the background,which gives the director the freedom from Gonzalo's POV(a passive, reflecting instrument) to show everything he wanted to show.So people who weren't there can experience through the many layers and different characters,what the experience was like.Gonzalo lives with his mother,eldersister and father,a businessman.His mother has an elderly lover/businessman who buys Gonzalo books on the Lone Ranger and Tonto.Someone says "a white man could never mix with an Indian".Gonzalo is not enchanted by this arrangement. Gonzalo and Pedro fight off school bullies and visit or stay over at each other's homes.Pedro's father is a drunk and warns Pedro that his friend will be running his dad's business when he is still a toilet cleaner. They all go out on rallies with Sylvana's father where they sell flags both to the nationalists and to the socialists and enthusiastically participate.Middle-class resentment has been building up both in school parent -meetings and on the streets.Slogans are on all the walls.Graffiti of a Marxist kind are being erased.

Gonzalo's mother is vain,has never grown up but is loving towards her son,getting luxuries from the black market from her lover.His sister has a right wing boyfriend who tries to intimidate Gonzalo and his friend.Clothes play a big part in his life so the film opens with him getting dressed for school.Pedro's clothes have holes,he is loaned Adidas trainers by Gonzalo,he goes swimming in his underwear.His outdoor toilet is clogged with s***.As violence encroaches into their lives and the coup takes place,with two jets flying directly overhead to the Palace, the school is taken over by the military,the priest is kicked out but before leaving eats all the wafers to imply sacredness has left the school.Cycling through the shanty town Gonzalo witnesses the iron hand of the Junta crushing the tenants of the shanty town,and as he cycles through the smoke of hell looks helplessly back at Pedro and his mother being taken away.Pinochet's CIA-backed coup is behind every frame of this film but its charm is in a nostalgia of childhood,criss-crossing class barriers,the potential to be different.Visually impressive, the film has a grainy look,with-holding and revealing information at the same time shot on 16mm.Key actions of history take place outside of the frame.We feel the claustrophobia and the march of time.
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on 7 December 2010
this is a truly fabulous film, which provides an insight in the turbulent politics of the 1970`s in Chile. Complex political events can be easily followed even by viewers even with no previous knowledge about Chile. Gripping and moving story seen through the eyes of two children. Great as part of Spanish language/ Latin American studies. Highly recommended !
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on 23 July 2007
This isn't a political film although set in the midst of political events which is the 1973 military coup in Chile and the months preceding it. The turmoil in the country reaching a boiling point is clearly visible in protests and shortages of food and in news real showing Marxist president Allende in Moscow greeting his totalitarian friends. The director succeeds in creating a clear image of the situation as it was back in 1973 without propaganda which would have jeopardized the artistic integrity of the movie. Don't brand it as a "leftist" film it isn't.

What stands out is friendship that reaches beyond class barriers, a coming of age saga of three youngsters that eventually become the victims of the situation in their country as it reaches its climax in a bitter hatred of "them" and "us". It is sad and heartbreaking.

The young actors do an outstanding job I might add and cast you in their net with their sincere performances which alone makes the film worth watching.
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on 8 June 2012
I bought this because I am trying to learn Spanish and it was reasonably priced. However, I didn't have high hopes for it. The idea of a film about the friendship between two boys of different social classes during the Chilean coup sounded a recipe for sentimentality, didactic dialogue, characters shabilly constructed to personify ideas, people yelling Marxist/right wing philosophy at each other and for patronising poor people as helpless victims. Whilst I am interested in political philosophy, I do hate worthy, plodding dramas.

Machua is none of these things, and conveys political tension with Chekhovian delicacy. The political discussions are few and clumsy, the friendship is beautifully portrayed and unsentimental, most characters are neither ideologically left nor right but just trying to do their best in a horribly divided, confused society.

My one criticism is the character of Silvana: a beautiful girl who looks to be in her late teens/early 20s who evidently feels irresistibly attracted to a chubby ginger haired boy who looks about 8. She has to be the most absurd wish fulfillment fantasy ever, but is well acted and an interesting character.

In all a wonderful film.
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on 8 January 2014
This film is very moving and draws you in from the start. A great watch and on my top 20 films list.
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on 10 February 2015
Extraordinary movie!
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on 27 February 2009
A briliant and moving film of children caught up in Pincochet's chile - with similarities to slumdog millionaire
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