out of Five
Running time: 90
Nostalgia for the Light is a fascinating and insightful documentary combining philosophical theories with personal tragedies that’s beautifully directed and magnificent to watch.
What’s it all about?
Directed by Patricio Guzmán, Nostalgia for the Light is a documentary combining historical facts, soulful insights and the human search for justice. Primarily set in Chile’s Atacama Desert (a prime spot for astronomers, who gather here to observe the stars) Nostalgia for the Light candidly informs an examination of the most distant and mature galaxies, presenting an array of facts and insightful theories.
But as well as being a viewing platform for astronomers, who are able to see right to the boundaries of the universe because of the translucent sky, the Atacama desert is also home to countless human remains dating back to the Pre-Columbian era, including remnants of the political soldiers, who ‘disappeared’ after the military coup of 11th September 1973 by the Chilean army. Talking personally to the heartbroken surviving relatives of the soldiers, who search for closure in their continuing quest for the remains of their loved ones on the driest part on Earth, Guzman’s film is a factual documentary that also manages to be both personal and philosophical.
Told in Spanish with English subtitles, this is a visually magnificent film with its bold and mesmerising visuals of the cosmos, stunningly presented by cinematographer, Katell Dijan. Director Patricio Guzmán also does a wonderful job with his beautiful direction of this peacefully paced and sometimes overwhelming documentary, that’s full of fascinating facts and complimented by a dramatic, but equally serene score. Very occasionally, it’s slow moving and a bit of a trudge, but its glorious heights more than make up for this.
The aspect of Nostalgia for the Light that makes it so great is the profound and truly touching conversations with the suffering survivors of Pinochet’s Chilean dictatorship. Constantly searching for resolution, these subjects include Victoria and Violeta, who after 28 years, still continue to dig for their relatives, and Valentina, a young woman, who was brought up by her grandparents after her parents were detained during the Chilean coup. The philosophical facts presented by the astronomers, who explain that they’re always looking back to better understand the future, tie in beautifully with the deeply personal accounts of the people searching Chilean history for answers, the past poignantly holding their dimensions together.
A magnificent documentary with extraordinary visuals, Nostalgia for the Light beautifully combines personal tragedies with philosophical theories to a stunning effect. Recommended.