Sunday, September 25, 2016

Colonia

German Film Week
Trinoma Cinemas


English is the language they chose to communicate this narrative about a really creepy place known as Colonia Dignidad. This German film which is based on actual events stars an international cast with Emma Watson (Hermione from the Harry Potter films) as Lena, a German stewardess (although nowadays they are called flight attendants) who is involved with Daniel, (German actor Daniel Bruhl) a German political activist/member of a group of young rebels who support President Allende.

Lena is in Santiago for a few days. So they spend it together. They are young, they are in love. But once General Augusto Pinochet overthrows Allende, they find themselves embroiled in the military coup of 1973. Daniel is abducted for his subversive activities and Lena tries everything to find his whereabouts. One day, she hears Daniel may have been taken to the Colonia Dignidad.

This is a camp in the outskirts of Santiago managed by a certain Paul Schafer who is ably portrayed by reliable Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist. It is presented as a charitable organization but in truth it is a cult run by an ex Nazi who enforces a strict code of conduct within the premises.  It was also further proven to enclose torture chambers where enemies of the state were taken during the brutal military dictatorship rule of Pinochet and most of them were never heard from again.

So Lena decides to join Colonia Dignidad in the hopes of finding Daniel. The whole film is focused on the activities within the camp and her desperate attempt to 'rescue' Daniel from a place where nobody has managed to escape.

It is an interesting story as it exposes a cult that was permeated by a sick ex Nazi pedophile although most of the scenes were implied and not explicit. It would have been more extensive had it also lengthily focus on the brutality within the hidden torture chambers. I understand it is a German made film so it concentrated on the activities inside the Colonia Dignidad. 

It also put the German government in a bad light as it was shown that they were well aware of what was really going on inside and were probably in cahoots with the Chilean authorities. A rather controversial point of contention which is still drawing flak from certain sectors.

It was a good vehicle though to showcase Emma Watson in a more mature role, a far cry from her pesky Hermione days. Overall, it had its thrilling moments such as the final minutes towards the conclusion but it is a pretty lightweight narrative as far as political/historical dramas go. 

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