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Post Mortem


Year: 2010 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Pablo Larraín 
Starring: Alfredo Castro, Antonia Zegers, Amparo Noguera  
An image from Post Mortem

Chile, 1973. Mario is in charge of typing autopsy reports in the hospital morgue. He is also attracted to his neighbour, cabaret dancer Nancy. In those days in Chile, the hope for change is everywhere and Nancy has ties with the Communists. When Pinochet succeeds in staging a coup, she disappears. Mario then sets out on a desperate search for Nancy.

The 1973 coup in Chile was one of the bloodiest events of its time; yet it does not suit itself to Hollywood - simply because in this case, the dictator won. Post Mortem displays the massacre in a very direct way: aptly titled, it does not show the violence leading to the crisis, but the aftermath. Days-old bodies are piling up but, despite their revolting presence, are treated matter-of-factly.

So don't expect an outraged hero from Post Mortem. Mario finds himself caught in the events of the 11th September coup, and just tries to live on. An epitomy of that - just taking in the new situation - is the autopsy of deposed leader Salvador Allende: the only special treatment he receives is the presence of military officials in the background.

However, the events do kickstart a change in Mario - which makes Post Mortem more than a film that is just about the 1973 coup. At the start of the film, Mario is shown as an awkward 55-year-old, unable to express any feelings, to do anything that would not be expected. So, in contrast, his decision to not let go of Nancy, and the energy he displays in his quest are staggering; and telling of the amount of radical changes the coup brought to Chileans.

Dark, sad, but immensely moving and informative about the other 11th September, Post Mortem is a film that should leave no one impassive.

Pierre Schramm

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Screenings of this film:

2011/2012 Autumn Term (35mm)