Powerful portrait of terror and collective madness
An extremely powerful vision of La Violencia: a complex set of upheavals that took place between approximately 1945 and 1965 in Colombia and that combined elements of civil war between Liberals and Conservatives, revolutionary conflicts with the state, and military dictatorship. Vallejo, to cite Carlos Monsiváis, was not exactly a snake charmer when it came to pleasing the mass media at the time, and his films were banned in Colombia as 'apologies of violence'. This decision was, in my view, excessive, and may have had something to do with the State's unwillingness to face its responsibility for the bloodletting. The film was made in Mexico and this slightly detracts from the veracity of the film as a portrayal of these events - Vallejo later complained that the landscapes weren't right. But it does convey the collective insanity and frightening emptiness behind this meaningless 'civil war' - particularly in its disturbing alternation between extreme long-shots and extreme close-ups. A little less Max Factor would have made it more realistic ... but given that cinema and reality are dissolving into one in Colombia's violences, perhaps realism would have been inappropriate in this instance.
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