Confesin a Laura (Confessing to Laura) (1991)




Director:     Jaime Osorio Gmez.

Starring:     Mara Cristina Glvez (Josefina), Vicky Hernndez (Laura), Gustavo LondoZo (Santiago), Walter Rojas (Newscaster).

a love story set in civil war in Colombia following the assassination of liberal leader Jorge Elicer Gaitn in 1948


Spoiler Warning:  plot lines presented. 

The politician Jorge Elicer Gaitn speaks to a large crowd:  "And they deny the right to be liberal to the huge liberal group which constitutes the biggest part of the party everywhere.  We scorn that pretension of the decaying lords who try to manipulate the conscience of men to reject those who stay on their own feet.  They call us sometimes communists, sometimes socialists.  We can not call them in any way, since they are just people of bad faith."  A roar of "Long live Doctor Gaitn" erupts from the crowd. 

Newsreel footage says that "In Colombia the revolution has started.  It was like a horrible nightmare.  The murder of the liberal leader Jorge Gaitn, candidate for the presidency, produced the outburst of the riots.  Assaults, attacks, murders.  It's an uncontrollable manifestation of emotion which grows bigger and bigger through the setting of fire to vehicles and buildings which fall apart among clouds of ashes.  It's shaking to see the wide streets covered by corpses, burned vehicles, traces of crazy riots.  When the army arrives there are fights.  Some groups of the police join the people.  It's all useless, there are only flames and ruins.  Downtown everything is uneasiness and pain, scene of a tragic popular revolt.   The crowds full of hate, of anger, spread all over the streets of Bogota, destroying everything they find in their way.  The angry crowds start plundering stores, shops and government offices.  The crowds grow, rise beyond any limit.  There is no control.  Chaos, despair and abandon are everywhere."

Someone shouts:  "Let's charge!  With Gaitn! 

 Santiago arrives home to his apartment.  His wife Josefina is speaking on the phone telling someone how to fix ragout.  The person on the line is worried about what is taking place in the streets of Bogota.  Josefina just tells the person:  "Don't worry about that.  It's just a small disorder.  Don't stop receiving your guests because of that.  Calm down.  I'll call you later so that you can tell me how everything turned out. Bye."  She then puts the final decorations on a birthday cake for the neighbor Laura, who lives in an apartment directly across from them.  She gets very irritated when her husband tells her that the situation is impossible outside with everything closed so he could not get the items she requested for their breakfast.

Santiago listens intently to the radio:  "Waiting for the next news. . . . The leaders of the Liberal Party have been for two days offering its support to Dr. Mariano Ospino Perez in order to preserve the legitimacy of Colombia.  The citizens must remain confident.  We need your collaboration in order to keep a high morale.  The worst is over.  Nevertheless we have to be careful.  The enemies of the nation lie in ambush.  This is the National Station under government control, after having been taken over for some hours.  Yesterday night and this morning there have been some revolts that the army has completely controlled." 

Josefina tells her hen-pecked husband to lower the volume because everything is returning to normal.  Her husband doesn't agree saying that the situation is getting worse.  Josefina replies:  "No, it's not worse, we have a responsible government. . . . The government can control it.  It's just those people who are screaming around."  Her husband just can't get her to realize the importance and danger of the current situation.   She persists:  ". . . all this noise will last only a couple of days."  While people are being killed in the streets, she tells Santiago that he should go see if he can be of some help to the government.  She adds:  "I'd do it if I were you." 

She then tells Santiago to go across the street and up to Laura's apartment to deliver the birthday cake on Laura's birthday.  Santiago objects:  "Josefina, can't you see it's dangerous to go out."  But, she says, "It's just to cross the street."  He tries to show her the danger by having her look out the window at the street.  Shots can be heard.   She prepares to take the cake herself.  This shames Santiago into delivering the cake.

Santiago knocks on the door of Laura's apartment.  A loud explosion occurs and Santiago is knocked to the floor.  The cake is almost completely destroyed.  Laura helps him to his feet.   Josefina calls soon after Laura gets Santiago into the apartment.  Laura talks to her for a while and then Josefina asks to speak to Santiago.  She tells him: "They say the army is gathering in the library. . . . You'd better come here."  The radio announcer says the bomb was in the Panamerican, across the street from the library.

Santiago prepares to return home, but Laura reminds him of the danger.  But he chooses to believe his wife's insistence that the situation is not dangerous.  Laura asks him a good question:  "How does she know?"  But Santiago insists on obeying his wife.  He tells Laura to come with him to his apartment.  With some reluctance because of Josefina's attitude, she agrees.  Just as they start to leave the apartment, a lot of gun shots are heard.  They look out the window to see people running frantically and they also see a dead man in the street.  They decide to stay. 

Santiago tries to soothe Laura, who is very worried about what will happen to them.  He has her sit down and he prepares some lemon balm tea for her. 

Away from the controlling ways of Josefina, Santiago and Laura begin to talk.  Laura is very different from Josefina.  She is supportive rather than critical of Santiago.  She wants to hear his opinions, as opposed to Josefina's wanting to dominate.  They begin a relationship that seems to bring out the best in each other.  What follows is the rest of the love story.


Very good movie.  I liked it a lot.  It's a damn good love story.  Even good things can come out of desperate situations, such as the start of civil war in Colombia, known as La Violencia.  The three main actors are all very good.  I especially like Laura, who is attractive because she is so kind, gentle and loving.  What a contrast from the nagging wife Josefina.  

 Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:

Colombia has been characterized by widespread, violent conflict.

1816 -- Jos Custodio Cayetano Garca Rovira (1780-1816), a Neogranadine general, became President of the United Provinces of the New Granada.

1816 -- Manuel Fernando Serrano Uribe (1789-1819), Governor of the Province of Pamplona, served as the last President of the United Provinces of the New Granada before its dissolution and complete Reconquista.

1819-1830  --  Republic of Gran Colombia. 

1819 -- the Congress of Angostura established the Republic of Gran Colombia. Bolvar was elected its first president and Francisco de Paula Santander its vice president.

Two political parties, growing from conflicts between the followers of Bolivar and Santander, have dominated Colombian politics. 

The Conservative party was composed most of Bolvar's supporters.  They wanted strong centralized government, alliance with the Roman Catholic Church and limited suffrage. 

The Liberal party was composed mostly of Santander's followers, who wanted a decentralized government, state control education and other civil matters and a broadened suffrage.

1830-1863  --  the Republic of New Granada.

1830  --  after the dissolution of Great Colombia, the military took over.

1854  --  the military took over.

1863-1886  --  the United States of Colombia. 

1863  --  the name of the Republic was changed officially to "United States of Colombia".

1886-1958  --  the Republic of Colombia. 

1886  --  the country adopted its present name: "Republic of Colombia".

1899-1902  --  Thousand Days War, a civil war resulting from the bitter rivalry between the Conservative and Liberal parties.  An estimated 100,000 lives were lost. 

1934-1938 -- Alfonso Lopez Pumarejo (1886 - 1959), member of the Liberal Party, was Colombian president for the first time.

1938-1942 -- Eduardo Santos Montejo (1888-1974), a member of the Liberal Party, was the president of Colombia.

1942-1945  --  Alfonso Lopez Pumarejo (1886 - 1959), member of the Liberal Party, was Colombian president for the second time

1946-1950 Mariano Ospina Prez (1891-1976), a member of the Colombian Conservative Party, served as the president of Colombia.

1948 (first days of January) -- armed conflict between peasants of small villages in the Santander Department caused the complete destruction of the Romn Village. This and other events led liberal presidential candidate Jorge Elicer Gaitn to call together a march known as the March of Silence and a collective pray for peace in Bogot.

1948 (April)-1958  --  the assassination of Liberal party popular candidate Jorge Elicer Gaitn led to the eruption of a bipartisan confrontation, known as "La Violencia" (The Violence), which led to the deaths of up to 300,000 people.  Self-defense groups and guerrilla units for the Liberals and the Conservatives were organized and fought each other.

1953-1957  --  the military took over under General Gustavo Rojas.   Most of the armed groups (bandoleros) were demobilized during the amnesty declared by the General.

1954  --  military operations against the bandoleros who had not surrendered to the government.

1957 (May)  --  Rojas removed from power.  Civilian rule restored after moderate Conservatives and Liberals united in a coalition known as the National Front. 

1958-1974  --  the National Front regime.

1958-1962  --  Alberto Lleras Camargo, of the Liberal Party, served as President of Colombia.

1962 (August) - 1966 (August) -- Guillermo Len Valencia MuZz (19091971), a Conservative, was the President of Colombia.


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