Crónica de una fuga (Chronicle of an Escape) (2006)
Director: Adrián Caetano.
Starring: Rodrigo De la Serna (Claudio Tamburrini), Pablo Echarri (Huguito), Nazareno Casero (Guillermo Fernández), Lautaro Delgado (El Gallego), Matías Marmorato (El Vasco), Martín Urruty (El Tano), César Albarracín (Guardia Tucumano 2), Diego Alonso (Lucas), Leonardo Bargiga (Capitán Almagro), Luis Enrique Caetano (Taxista), Alfredo Castellani (Entrenador), Andrés Chinello (Guardia Lucas 2), Daniel Cúparo (Guardia Metódica 3), Guillermo Javier de la Vega (Guardia Metódica 2), Daniel Di Biase (Padre del Gallego).
four men narrowly escape death at the hands of a military death squad during the Argentina military dictatorship
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
On March 24, 1976 the Argentine Armed Forces organized a coup d’etat. In 1985 the military, who ruled for seven years, were taken to court for human rights violations: the first such trial in Latin America. This story is based on the testimony of two of the victims.
Buenos Aires. November 23, 1977.
The mimeograph guy lives there? asks one policeman. He is obviously forcing a prisoner to make sure of his identification. The prisoner says yes.
A goalie in soccer named Claudio fails to make a save.
A policeman asks a screaming woman: "Do you want me to hit you again, bitch?" They want to know where her son lives. She says she doesn’t know. One of the fellows asks her if she knows her son is a terrorist? She says no. They tell her that her son is dangerous. A terrorist! The men search the house for weapons and incriminating evidence. The daughter of the woman being beaten by the military thugs comes home and is grabbed. The leader tells the woman to decide: it’s either her daughter or her terrorist son!
The man who identified the home of the mimeograph guy is taken into the house. The soccer goalie approaches the house and is grabbed. The police grab his wallet and look at his I.D. card. His name is Claudio Tamburrini. They ask him if he has a mimeograph and Claudio says no. They blindfold him, throw him into their car and take him to a huge house.
Day 1. The police start torturing Claudio to give them the names of his contacts and to tell them why he needs to have a mimeograph. When they are done with him they throw him into a room with a man named Mario, who is also blindfolded.
Day 3. They torture Claudio again, this time by pushing his head under water and holding it there. The torturers want to know about their plans for an attack. When and where? The torturers get prisoner Tano to say that Claudio is the one with the mimeograph and now Tano is there being forced to tell Claudio to tell them about the mimeograph.
From all the rooms the torturers bring out the prisoners and have them kneel on both sides of the hallway. Someone shouts that they will all talk and another one calls them all "faggots".
Day 31. The torturers come in and tell Claudio and Mario they are going home. They give them shoes to put on. They take Mario, but then tell Claudio he’s not going anywhere. "Merry Christmas!" they say. They take him into another room where there are other prisoners. They all get some champagne to drink and then they say: "The party’s over!"
When Claudio sees Tano he goes to the attack. But the others stop them from fighting because they don’t want to have everyone beaten. Tano says they found Claudio’s number in his address book. He cries and says they beat him so bad that he had to tell them something. He needed time for his comrades to get away. Tano says they will let him go. But Claudio tells him they are not going to let him go: "You’ve killed me, Tano."
Day 45. They give the prisoners more freedom. They are allowed to do chores about the house. And now they get some views of the surroundings around the house.
Day 61. They give the men some spoons for the first time. The prisoners divide up the food and eat. Claudio finds out the guy with the mimeograph is named Jorge. Tano turned him in too. He tells Claudio that he has to give the torturers some names or they have nothing to show for their work. Claudio must give them someone.
Day 72. Tano is told that he is going to prison. One of the torturers says this is the first case that they have solved. They take Tano out. The fellow also says that some of the prisoners will have to give them something, because they have not gotten enough from them.
Vasco is very frightened because his brother is a rebel. He turned one of the prisoners, Guillermo, into the police.
In the hall the prisoners being taken to prison are injected with some substance. The men are placed in the back of a truck.
Day 118. Two guards come in and throw Jorge his shoes, saying he is going home. And they take out Guillermo. Jorge is put in one car and Guillermo in another. They drive Guillermo to a house and tell him to go ring the bell. He rings the bell and they take him into a police headquarters. Guillermo is accused of giving them bad addresses, ones they already know. He lied to them. He bought time for his friends. The fellow asking him the questions is called the judge. He decides if Guillermo lives or dies.
Back at the house Claudio and the others have their hair cut very short. The guard cutting the hair says that they are being punished because false information was given to the police. And he doesn’t want them to end up like Tano: underground.
The prisoners are told to undress. They are tied to beds with their hands over their heads. The guard says now they must all talk. One of the prisoners is Guillermo. They pour disinfectant all over his body and then use a mop to rub it into his body. Guillermo tells Claudio that he has to get out. Claudio says he wants to go with him.
Day 119. Claudio and Gallego are given their pants and taken down to do chores in the kitchen. In the kitchen Claudio considers banging the two guards on their heads with a skillet. But Gallego keeps shaking his head no. So nothing happens. When the men are alone, Gallego says he doesn’t want to kill anyone. He wants to get out alive, but his way.
Day 120. At night the guards come in. They force the four guys up. Hugo tells them that they will kill anyone who even wants to escape and tells them they better think about their last request. Guillermo says he would like to see their faces. Hugo takes his automatic weapon and fires it into the ceiling. Three of the four prisoners hit the floor. All, of course, are scared. It’s another little prank played by the happy torturers.
The top leader Lucas scolds Hugo for mistreating the prisoners. Hugo tells Lucas that he is spoiled and is spoiling the prisoners rotten. Hugo tells the prisoners: one more day. He and his men leave. Lucas tells the men that they are scum! He treats them well and this is how they repay him. He tells Guillermo that this is the last time.
Day 121. March 24, 1978. Guillermo tells Claudio that today is the day. Tomorrow he will be dead. Tucumano and Lucas are out. They have a gap of three hours to act during the night between bed checks.
Claudio and Guillermo get up. They have to slap Gallego to keep him quiet. He keeps saying: "They have no right." All four prisoners are up. They open the window. Guillermo brings Gallego over to the window and he climbs out. Three of them are down. Guillermo is writing something on the wall. It says: "Thank you Lucas." Down comes Guillermo.
They creep past the house windows. They climb down the trellis. A truck arrives with Hugo and Tucumano. They have brought a prisoner in. The men start running from the house. They get to the fence and climb over.
They try to flag down a bus but the bus driver doesn’t stop. They cross the street and go over another wall. They have to hide as a truck comes to check out the area with a spotlight. After the truck leaves, they grab some briefs from a clothes line and put them on.
Several vehicles with spot lights now come scouting the area. Vasco starts freaking out and Claudio has to stay with him. Gallego and Guillermo wait for them. They find some tools and remove Gallego’s handcuffs.
Guillermo goes across the street and asks a woman for help saying that he has been mugged. She gives him some pants and a shirt, as well as some money for a taxi. Now three of the guys are together. They go to get off Claudio’s handcuffs.
Meanwhile, Guillermo gets a taxi. The three guys all have clothes on now. Gallego’s dad arrives with his car and Gallego runs to meet him. Dad puts his son in the front seat, but the two other guys in the trunk. Dad tells his son that they were looking all over for him. He even quite his work. Gallego tells his father that they are torturing and killing people. He tells his dad that he and the others escaped. Dad gets scared saying that they will come after Gallego and then the whole family. He stops the cars, opens the trunk and tells the two guys to go. The two guys hug each other and then split up.
Guillermo Fernandez fled to France where he now acts. In 1984, he met Claudio in Italy, and the same year, he met Gallego in Spain. In 1985 he testified at the trials of the military dictatorship. Vasco sought refuge with a relative. He was kidnapped again and set free in 1983. In 1985 he testified at the trials of the military dictatorship. Gallego left Argentina with his family’s help. He was last known to be living in Spain. He never returned to Argentina.
Following the escape on March 31, 1978, the remaining prisoners were moved to regular jails and later set free. The mansion was torched eliminating all evidence. Located at 48 Blas Parera Street in Moron, Province of Buenos Aires, Sere Mansion (Attila) functioned as a detention camp for the military junta between 1976 and 1978. Claudio claimed political asylum in Sweden where he played amateur soccer. A researcher in philosophy at Goteborg University, in 1985, he testified at the trials of the military dictatorship.
Good movie. Lots of torture, of course, as this was the terrible military dictatorship in Argentina. The movie kept my interest throughout. Even completely free of any radicalism in their life were pulled into the military's dragnet. Most of the people tortured gave up names of others, even if they weren't radicals. The torturers had to get more and more names and so those not giving names were tortured until they did give names. And then a lot of them were killed anyway. Disgusting, isn't it?
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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