Nostalgia For The Light |

Nostalgia for the Light


NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT unfolds in Chile’s inhospitable Atacama Desert, an unforgiving environment which plays home to an array of different efforts. Due to its status as the driest place on Earth, the Atacama is well-suited as the site of a vast observatory thanks to its clear skies. However, its clinical, scientific purpose is balanced by the on-going struggles of a group of women who lost their relatives during the Pinochet regime, and search tirelessly for their remains on the site of the former mass graves.

Guzmán tries to draw connections which initially seem tenuous, with the achingly human struggle of the bereaved being juxtaposed against the astronomers’ attempts to gain a clearer understanding of the celestial. However, any doubts that a resolution will appear are soon quelled by the sensitive interweaving of short, candid and deeply personal interviews with Atacama inhabitants. The sheer vastness and near-futility of their respective aims are made to seem oddly comparable, and within a short space of time Guzmán has fused his threads together in an entirely convincing and captivating way.

Nostalgia For The Light |

…within a short space of time Guzmán has fused his threads together in an entirely convincing and captivating way.

What is especially striking about NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT is the manner whereby extraordinary efforts are presented in a gentle, yet matter-of-fact way. There is never a hint of exaggeration or hyperbole, yet the gravity of each situation is made painfully clear. The one clear use of special effects seems superfluous; a computerised dust storm is seen trickling through the various stories, provoking a clear ‘dust to dust’ message, which Guzmán has already expressed with more subtlety over the course of the film.

There is something profoundly compelling and thought-provoking about NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT which is surprising given its delicate approach. In a style that seems reminiscent of Primo Levi’s detached discussions of the Holocaust, the presentation here of the inhuman on a human level is all the more intriguing for its lack of overt emotion. Guzmán has created something sincerely touching through his careful use of subject matter, without the aid of a barrage of technical features. NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT is a refreshing, remarkable film which manages to address many of life’s key questions without a trace of pretension.

One thought on “Nostalgia for the Light”

  1. I really enjoyed this, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think it laboured over some points. There was a fair amount of thematic points repeated numerous times which made a little baggier than it could have been I think.

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