In the light of the 40th anniversary of the military dictatorship’s entrance into power, the first Argentine film to receive an Oscar will be in cinemas again as of March 24th. La Historia Oficial was awarded “Best Foreign Film” in 1986 for its powerfully humane portrayal of the developing, moral dilemma of a mother who questions where the daughter she and her husband adopted actually came from, following restored democracy.
The beautifully written film shows not the physical violence carried out by the right-wing military juntas from 1976 to 1983, but rather the legacy it left behind.
We are carried through the middle-class mother and history teacher, Alicia’s, awakened suspicions following a conversation with an old friend, exiled after being tortured for her relationship with a radical, which leads her to Plaza de Mayo where she comes to terms with the horrors of her country’s recent past. As the slow-paced motion picture unfolds, Alicia meets the presumed grandmother of her adopted daughter, who, in revealing the truth about her disappeared daughter and son-in-law, speaks for the thousands of family members left in the dark about the whereabouts of their loved ones.
With the echoes of the dictatorship only two years behind its release, the film’s impact and success is due as much to the spectacular acting as it is to its uniquely real approach to the shattering truth. Norma Aleandro, who plays Alicia, in fact admitted to press that actors were threatened, the shooting had to be put on hold, and she refused the role twice before accepting from fear of what might happen to her.
Though director Luis Puenzo is “editing” his oeuvre for their renewed projection, it is for digital purposes and he assures the films content will not be altered.
It is estimated by human rights organizations that some 30,000 people “disappeared” under Jorge Rafael Videla’s dictatorship.
At the time of the film’s release only three children had been reunited with their grandmothers. Today this figure stands at 118.