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Nostalgia for the Light (2011)



Average Rating: 8.6/10
Critic Reviews: 13
Fresh: 13 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 2,993

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Movie Info

For his new film master director Patricio Guzmán, famed for his political documentaries (THE BATTLE OF CHILE, THE PINOCHET CASE), travels 10,000 feet above sea level to the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert, where atop the mountains astronomers from all over the world gather to observe the stars. The sky is so translucent that it allows them to see right to the boundaries of the universe. The Atacama is also a place where the harsh heat of the sun keeps human remains intact: those of

Sep 13, 2011


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All Critics (43) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (42) | Rotten (0) | DVD (5)

A truly eye-opening experience.

July 10, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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A nearly unbearable examination of good and bad in the human heart.

June 9, 2011 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
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Guzmán offers a poetic narrative that celebrates the searches and insists on the moral obligation to remember Chile's not-too-distant past.

April 22, 2011 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
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The filmmaker's masterpiece, an exquisitely filmed, poetically written meditation on how past and present fuse in humanity's most unresolved questions.

April 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
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A film of rare visual poetry that's simultaneously personal, political and philosophical, it's a genuine art film that's also unpretentious and easygoing.

April 21, 2011 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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"I am convinced that memory has gravitational force," says Guzmán in conclusion. "Nostalgia" states his case so beautifully that even skeptical physicists will be thoroughly convinced.

March 31, 2011 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Moving and poetic, with beautiful composition and strong direction, Nostalgia For The Light has an authentic sense of gravitas.

November 11, 2013 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

The vast expanse of the world's driest place - captured here in all its arid intensity - makes for a fascinating and eerie backdrop.

August 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Fan The Fire
Fan The Fire

Patricio Guzman returns to the subject of his masterpiece.

July 17, 2012 Full Review Source: The List
The List

This is a film to be seen, re-seen and pondered.

July 14, 2012 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

A seriously remarkable documentary-essay from the Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzmán.

July 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

A remarkably lyrical, strikingly beautiful documentary reflecting on memory, mortality and the inexorable passing of time.

July 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

This is one of the films of the year.

July 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Guardian

You wait all year for a thought-provoking movie-essay on life, art, science or history. Then in Nostalgia for the Light all four arrive together.

July 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

Sticking in the mind, Nostalgia for the Light leaves much food for thought on life's important questions.

July 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Pasts both collective and personal are thoughtfully examined in Patricio Guzmán's ethereal documentary.

July 11, 2012 Full Review Source: What Culture
What Culture

A fascinating and insightful documentary combining philosophical theories with personal tragedies that's beautifully directed and magnificent to watch.

July 11, 2012 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

A truly insightful art film that still manages to be easy-going and unpretentious.

July 8, 2012 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

A film that makes you ponder the mysteries of human existence anew.

July 2, 2012 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Not just a phenomenal human story - which was guaranteed from the moment Guzmán chose his subject - but a gripping work of cinema as well.

December 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

A soul-searching meditation on the past.

September 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews almost perfect documentary, confronting history, memory, and science in a way that touches the heart, provokes the mind, and humbles the spirit.

August 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

In this poetic - though overstated - documentary, Patricio Guzmán ponders these two ways of looking back in time, merging the celestial and sublunary like Terrence Malick in The Tree of Life or Werner Herzog in Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

June 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

Original music, sure-handed editing, the stunning panorama and scope of the observatories, the desert and the night sky, plus the heartbreaking stories of the searchers, make this a top contender for best documentary.

May 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

Audience Reviews for Nostalgia for the Light

Nostalgia for the Light is a speculative and dream-like documentary mixing archaeology and astrology but explaining that they are one and the same. Patricio Guzmán also uses Chile's history from Pre-Colombian sheppards, 19th century explorers and miners and victims of Pinochet's regime to further explain the need to look into our past to see into the future. The fact that the Pre-Colombian Shepperd's drawings are on rocks close to the Chilean observatory, with the mummies of explorers close by and that the area is frequented by the mothers and wives of the victims of the nearby concentration camp who are looking for what remains they can find (often small fragments of bone) just helps to paint this picture of the history of everything in such a small and arid place in the most haunting and beautiful way. My only wish is that I'd seen this on the big screen. Herzog's documentaries are my favourite but this comes a close second.
September 17, 2012

Super Reviewer

"Nostalgia for the Light" is an impressive and powerful cine-essay from Patricio Guzman that is marred only by some unnecessary effects work, especially considering the naturally spectacular Atacama Desert of Chile which resembles Mars on display.(So, I would not be surprised if it has ever been used as a location for a science fiction movie.) Its height of 5,000 meters is optimum for the use of telescopes to look backwards into the history of the cosmos.(To the film's credit, there is one astoundingly mindbending bit of metaphysics arguing that due to the speed of light, there is no true present.) As we are informed, this is in a country that going back to colonial times has had a problem with how it views its past. This continues to the present day's challenges with how it deals with the mass killings committed under the Pinochet dictatorship. With the desert's total lack of humidity(the only place on earth like this), it preserves ancient artifacts extremely well, not to mention more recent bodies that were dumped there(one is found during filming) in the hope of never being found again. However, an intrepid group of volunteers carry on their neverending search to find closure for themselves and loved ones. In the end, one has to come to terms with the past before one can look to the future and maybe eventually to the stars.
September 29, 2012
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Beautiful cinematography and incredible views of the universe, but this film lacked focus and tried maybe a little too hard to draw parallels between astronomy, archaeology and the search for traces of those who were "disappeared" during the reign of terror that occurred in Chile under Pinochet. By casting such a wide net, the filmmakers wound up only able to scratch the surface of any of these three topics. The setting was the arid desert in the Chilean highlands, Atacama, the most arid place on earth. This is where NASA conducted experiments for its mars mission, as the climate most closely approximates the conditions on the red planet. This lends itself to near-perfect conditions for stargazing and also provides an environment where bodies are naturally mummified. The filmmakers aim was noble. This film failed to live up to its promise.
September 28, 2011
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

This is a documentary embraced and draped in total respect, beauty and profound contemplation. It is an essay, a cinematic spectacle, a tribute to the dead, a tribute to the stars and Herzog-esque in its form of creative documentary. Try to catch this if you ever see it playing and I need to seek out more of this directors work!
July 19, 2012
Hassan Vawda

Super Reviewer

    1. Narrator: Compared to the immensity of the cosmos, the problems of the Chilean people might seem insignificant. But if we laid them out on a table, they would be as vast as a galaxy.
    – Submitted by Tomas K (2 years ago)
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Foreign Titles

  • Nostalgia for the Light (DE)
  • Nostalgia for the Light (Nostalgia de la luz) (UK)
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