La Historia Oficial (The Official Story) (1985)



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Movie Info

This is an emotionally gripping, fictional look at a couple torn apart by the infamous Argentine campaign of killings and torture that sent thousands of accused terrorists to unmarked graves in the mid-and late-'70s. Alicia (Norma Aleandro) and Roberto (Hector Alterio) adopted a little girl (Analia Castro) during this period of governmental terror in Argentina. Alicia has always wondered about the parents of their little girl, a topic her husband has forced her into forgetting as a condition of the adoption -- he alone knows the full story. Thanks to censorship, Alicia -- like others -- is not fully aware of how much killing has gone on until her students at school start complaining that their textbook histories were written by murderers. Add to this a long conversation with a friend who had been in exile after she was tortured by the government, and Alicia starts to do some serious political and personal research on her own. The results reveal the identity of the little girl's dead parents and reveal that Alicia's husband has had a nasty hand in the government repression and dirty dealings with foreign businesses. She also learns the identity of the girl's grandmother. Her next decision will determine what to do with this information.

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Critic Reviews for La Historia Oficial (The Official Story)

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (2)

The Official Story is part polemic, part thriller, part tragedy. It belongs on the list with films like Z, Missing and El Norte, which examine the human aspects of political unrest.

Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

From the legacy of anguish left by Argentina's military juntas, Luis Puenzo has created a glowing film.

Aug 30, 2004 | Full Review…

Simultaneous serves as a crackling political thriller and a deeply moving family drama.

Oct 23, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

A rare film, which makes a powerful political statement while telling a touching personal story. In his feature debut, Puenzo shows commitment to human rights without imposing explicit political doctrine.

Dec 23, 2006 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

An almost textbook example of how to use a personal story to tell and illuminate a much larger one (are you listening, Oliver Stone?).

Aug 23, 2006 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

A wrenching and painful drama that crystallizes the horror and the obscenity of political activities that annihilate family solidarity in the name of ideology.

Mar 16, 2002 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for La Historia Oficial (The Official Story)

Even though the changes undergone by the protagonist seem rushed (not even her hair seems to follow an entirely consistent evolution), this is a deeply disturbing and painful drama that poses hard questions and examines the terrifying truth about a horrific moment in History.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

A schoolteacher searches for her adopted daughter's origins. Beginning as a film about how teachers teach/indoctrinate the state's dominant paradigm, the film quickly shifts focus to the teacher's family life. We learn that it is likely that her daughter was procured by illegal or immoral means by her government official husband. Bourgeois versus "common man" sympathies becomes the main conflict for the family and the film. Thus, The Official Story is a heady drama, one that ultimately condemns the upper classes by revealing violence hidden beneath the veneer of respectability. I don't think I could appreciate the film as much as a native Argentinian because of my limited knowledge of their history; I've seen Evita and paid attention during World History in high school, but that's about it, and many of the oblique references to past military leaders was lost on me. The drama also unfolds slowly. There are long zooms and pans and numerous shots of the main character looking pensive. Overall, I think there's a lot to like about The Official Story, but it's not for all audiences, especially my classmates who fell asleep during World History and failed to see Evita.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


It takes a very intimate story and allows us to see through a small crack all the horror and tragedy suffered by a whole nation. Overwhelming.

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

After much consideration, I finally decided to go for it paying respect to its IMDb ratings. The fact that it has historical background also played its part in luring me towards it. However, the story turned out to be extremely different than what I'd expected. Content-wise, not quality-wise. Neither delighted nor disappointed by it, I guess that knowing the relevant history (yeah, blindly jumped into it with the info that it has historical background; didn't dig even a wee-bit further about it at that time) might have helped more and made it more engaging. Unfortunately, I'd never heard about the historical "Dirty War" tragedy before watching this movie. I didn't find the movie that great. It had emotions, it had thrills, the acting was good, the music was good, the dialogues were excellent, but yet I won't call it a heart-wrenching drama. The overall outcome wasn't so incredible. This Oscar winning flick is undoubtedly watchable and shouldn't be a PITA. Although it might be painful in some other parts to some.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

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