★★★ Watched 10 Jan, 2019
Without prior knowledge of any background information, the story doesn’t offer much more than a vague general context. Focus is on the three prisoners as they are purposefully kept in the dark, very much like we the audience. Since I have been living in Uruguay for about 5 years I have some sense of the environment and the current political climate in which Mujica was the president of Uruguay a few years ago. After the first 15 minutes into the movie I was already surprised by the number of red flags going off in my mind in a sense, how any person, who lived in a solitary prison for over a year, doesn’t go insane to a point that can’t be trusted with any kind of job that holds responsibility over people, not much less the whole country! But that’s the reality we live in. Not just in Uruguay, since Trump has been proving again and again, how inappropriate and detrimental certain personality traits can be for the position of a president of any country.
I found it interesting how the movie tries to stay away from any kind of general commentary of the situation and motivations of the characters. There’s a single one that is clearly shown in a negative light. The impression I was left with was that the military side that lost, was simply misguided while average soldiers blindly followed orders and swallowed military propaganda. In the end, they are all just simple people who love their families and are looking for love.
Technically and artistically I feel it was done well and with skill. Main actors were convincing and managed to convey enough without much dialogue. Overall it was an interesting experience, but it needs more information about the political background and the aftermath of the fall of the dictatorship. Trying to stay objective by not directly commenting on the situation, doesn’t do any good in this case, because it leaves the viewer with too many unanswered questions. If it was made with an international audience in mind, I don’t see a point to stay away from any strong statement about what happened.
3 thoughts on “A Twelve-Year Night (2018)”
I generally agree with most of what you’ve said. The way the movie is written, it looks like it’s not made for general international audiences it’s made for people who are familiarized with Latin American dictatorships. At the same time, I feel like if the started to go that way then they would have run out of time. I do agree the lack of tone and background made this movie fall flat.
What I disagree with is this comment: “After the first 15 minutes into the movie I was already surprised by the number of red flags going off in my mind in a sense, how any person, who lived in a solitary prison for over a year, doesn’t go insane to a point that can’t be trusted with any kind of job that holds responsibility over people, not much less the whole country! But that’s the reality we live in.”
Many people who have been imprisoned and tortured don’t go insane, on the contrary, people like Nelson Mandela and John McCain learned from their experiences. It was almost a spiritual experience. In the words of Mandela, “Prison itself is a tremendous education in the need for patience and perseverance. It is above all a test of one’s commitment.”
Maybe you consider Mujica to have been an incompetent President for other reasons, but I don’t see the time he spent in jail as a red flag or an indication of his incompetence.
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I’m watching now a Netflix documentary about Mujica made by Kusturica, a Yugoslavian director who has been living and working in France for many years now. I just started and already feel it is a good companion piece to the movie. I’ll do a review soon. I know it will change my view of Mujica, but still it was a wrong person to be in that position. He reminds me of Trump as well as assassinated president candidate from Slovenia in the 90s. In a sense that they were not politicians, but workers and businessmen trying to make a change in the corrupted and twisted world of politics. They ended up doing a mess with a good intentions not understand fully how the politics has been working since forever.
Also to be clear. I see a red flag for anyone standing more than a year in the solitary. Prison will change you and Mandela was in a house prison, not even with a general population. So that’s very different. Solitary will change a person to a point he/she will have a hard time recognizing him/herself. Which is not bad for personal growth even though it’s very dangerous for mental health. But it doesn’t benefit your social skills or ability to lead and do stuff for common good. He was a laughing stock everywhere. Not to a degree that Trump is, but they have a very different personality as well. From what I understand Mujica was a perfect puppet president. Well liked by people and almost no self interests so he was easily manipulated. He did benefit financially as well, but that’s not talked about.