THE BATTLE OF CHILE: THE STRUGGLE OF AN UNARMED PEOPLE—PART III (Patricio Guzmán, Chris Marker et al., 1979)

It may disconcert, to say the least, to find Salvador Allende again alive in the third part, “El poder popular,” of Patricio Guzmán’s tripartite La batalla de Chile: La lucha de un pueblo sin armas, when his death—assassination officially announced as suicide—is included in the second part. But this final installment, whose title translates as “People Power,” goes back in time to detail efforts by workers, inspired by Allende’s rhetoric and example, to organize locally into groups opposing Allende’s right-wing opposition. These groups took over a whole range of activities, including running farms and factories, to undo the right’s efforts to stymie Allende’s operation of the economy and the nation’s smooth operation in its effort to expand citizen opposition and thereby help justify the upcoming military coup. Allende had been extraordinarily successful in nationalizing major privately owned industries; but for his own reasons, one being his commitment to Chile’s legislative process, he found himself opposing those who were opposing his right-wing opposition—supporters of his. For Guzmán, therefore, this return to the material finds him, in effect, facing ghosts of the recent past and his own untarnished view of Allende.
     It is a film full of talk, from citizen interviews, voiceover narration, and members of these local groups attempting to realize Allende’s socialist dream; but from Allende himself, from whom we generously heard in the first two parts, we hear nothing. He is a mute figure—a silent ghost. In addition to his death, this suggests the degree to which other Chileans will continue to be haunted by Allende’s role in Chilean history. Others will have to “restore” Allende’s “voice” by pursuing Allende’s aims of social and economic justice.

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