La Historia Oficial (The Official Story) (1985)
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as Father Ismael
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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.
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.
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.
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