Argentine, 1985

Bill Woodrow, Untitled (94_04), 1995


Commentary on the film directed by Santiago Miter.

In one of the most symbolic conflicts that we can watch in the film Argentine, 1985, the young assistant prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo questions his own mother about the practices of the Argentine dictatorial government, in force between 1976 and 1983. The mother, who attended the same mass as General Rafael Videla, one of the most brutal rulers of the period, constantly reaffirms the importance of the family and political stability to defend the military actions of the time, in addition to the ties that the family itself maintained with the civil-military regime that governed the country.

Luis Moreno Ocampo accuses the presidents of the dictatorial period of crimes against humanity together with prosecutor Julio Strassera, in the most important trial in the political history of Argentina. To do so, they raise evidence and testimonies of such crimes, a fundamental attitude for Argentine society to revisit its recent past and do some justice against the perpetrators of brutality policies.

However, after the testimony of a young woman, who was tortured along with her newborn daughter in a moving car by the military, Ocampo receives a call from her mother. She questions whether that really happened and how it was possible for ordinary people to be able to offer such violence and suffering in the name of political and social ideals. Crying, she ends up agreeing on the need to condemn the leaders of the Argentine dictatorship, responsible for that state of affairs, and defends the work – almost impossible – of the prosecutors in that very important trial.

This and other dialogues by Argentine, 1985 make film indispensable for our time. The performance of Strassera and Ocampo in the trial is an important defense of democratic life, which was so attacked in that country and in Latin America during the second half of the XNUMXth century and which still has effects on the political life of our countries today. In his final speech, Prosecutor Strassera refers to the risks of being forgotten and takes up the words that “were no longer his, but those of the entire Argentine people”: “Nunca más”, reaffirming the democratic commitment of that society. We are aware of the difficulties of the democratic political construction in Argentina in the last decades, however, the recognition of the crimes of the civil-military regime that terrorized the country was fundamental to revisit events that the majority would like to forget, however embarrassing it may have been.

Revisiting the memories of the recent violent past, discussing the justifications offered, blaming the perpetrators of inhumane practices, among other traumatic movements addressed in the film, were necessary steps for that society to seek a reconstruction of joint life, a project still under construction in Argentina. In this context, forgetting would be more dangerous, since it would bring the naturalization of barbarism and political brutality as acceptable solutions to the challenges of political construction, maintaining paths for the resumption of reactionary and violent political positions.

The different ways in which Argentina and Brazil dealt with their recent dictatorial past are examples of the importance of memory and the attempt to value democratic life, which received less attention in our country, to the point that some Brazilian citizens demanded some kind of “military intervention”. " every now and then. Here, ignorance and democratic contempt seem to come together in the absence of understanding of the risks of life under the rule of political brutality. The understanding of Ocampo's mother is symbolic in this aspect, because, even against her will, she recognizes that the violent political solution entails risks for everyone, including constant threats and dehumanizing excesses.

The shock after the testimony of the victims of the regime makes one think, creating necessary embarrassment for many who either had no knowledge or “turned their faces” to everything that happened. It is important to recognize that this is an understandable action, as “going on with life” can be a simpler and less painful way out in times of tension. However, from this kind of attitude will arise the dangerous forgetfulness that will keep the door open for political brutality as a solution in the future.

Here, a question arises: what is the responsibility of those who do not know or “turn their faces” to the excesses of the will of those who propose to solve the political challenges? The complicity and bond between that society and its leaders, even if little active in the brutal processes of dehumanization then promoted, once again raise reflective and necessary doubts about responsibilities and attitudes.

Argentine, 1985 offers an important and necessary account of when forgetting can be a risk. When dehumanization and brutality are forgotten, they can reappear or be demanded as a political solution to the challenges of living together, as we can see in different parts of the world at this very moment, especially in Brazil. Without this reckoning, we run the risk of getting dangerously close to the totalitarian and dehumanizing coexistence that has so haunted our dear Latin America.

*Jose Costa Junior Professor of Philosophy and Social Sciences at IFMG –Campus Ponte Nova.


Argentine, 1985

Argentina, 2022, 140 minutes

Directed by: Santiago Miter

Screenplay: Mariano Llinás, Martin Mauregui, Santiago Mitre.

Cast: Ricardo Darin, Peter Lanzani, Alejandra Flechner, Paula Ransenberg, Carlos Portaluppi.


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