Machuca Essay

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Socialist and Dictatorial Experience of Chile Somnath Deshmukh University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
One of the most speculative experiences of conquest and dictatorship in the history of Latin America has been the socialist and dictatorial regimes in Chile. Chile has gone through multiple times of dictatorship, lead by the military, and also had lapses of a socialist government. The film “Machuca” by Andres Wood provided an insight of the series of social events in Chile in 1973, ranging from inter personal experiences to political issues and the Chilean nation. “Two dictators, Salvador Allende and Augusto Pinochet, both brought tremendous suffering upon the Chilean people -- one through his socialist policies and nationalization of industry, and the other through systematic campaigns of terror” (Stolyarov, 2007). The events discussed in the movie explain the different circumstances that lead to a military dictatorship in Chile. “Machuca” is framed around the last days of the UP (Unidad Popular) government of Salvador Allende in 1973” (Martín-Cabrera & Voionmaa, 2007). Through the reference of two school kids, ‘Pedro’ and ‘Gonzalo’, the movie explains to us the complications of the socialist government and the dictatorial regimes, and the effects on the common civilians. In this paper, we will discuss the Socialist and Dictatorial experiences in Chile, in context to the movie “Machuca”, and lay specific emphasis to the differences in the opinions of people belonging to the different classes, both economically and socially, in Cuba under the UP government. Also, we will highlight various events from the movie, based on the perception of Gonzalo Infante and analyze the impacts of dictatorship in Chile. Chile, during the time of Salvador Allende’s UP Government, comprised of several different classes - both economic and social ones. There were different economic classes among the civilians, and the natives or the Indians generally belonged to poorer sections of the society. The film “Machuca” clearly identifies this major societal difference in the form of the two main characters – Gonzalo and Pedro. Gonzalo belonged to a rice family and was well suited to all the comforts of life. He went to one of the best schools in the city, thus showing his high social and economic background. “The first shot of the film shows the hands of Gonzalo Infante – the upper class child – buttoning his shirt, putting his tie on and donning the school jacket; dressing, in sum, like a little bourgeois. The scene is filmed from bottom up, and the spectator sees only Gonzalo’s face reflected on a mirror through a close-up when he is finally completely dressed in the school uniform. The visual logic of the scene is important because it shows that class (the tie, the uniform, the suit) is one of the defining elements of Gonzalo’s identity. The reflection on the mirror is a mechanism of self- identification of crucial importance, because the film is structured as a truncated coming-of-age story” (Martín-Cabrera & Voionmaa, 2007). On contrary to this, Pedro belongs to the poorer sections of the Chilean Society. As is clear from various instances in the movie, he lived in a shantytown in the outskirts of the city. His house showed no valid sign of wealth. His mother was a worker and did household work, while he worked with his uncle and helped in selling flags during the different protests and marches. Thus in this way, both of them demonstrated different social backgrounds. And these two classes come together when Father McEnroe decides to bring the kids from the shantytown to the high-class school in order to increase national integration. This demonstrates the main impact of the socialist policies in Chile. Just like Salvador Allende’s socialist policies that lead to economic unification of the country by nationalizing all private enterprises, Father McEnroe tried a similar endeavor in order to bring about national unification. The new students...
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