Missing (1982)




Director:    Costa-Gavras

Starring:    Jack Lemmon (Ed Horman), John Shea (Charles Horman), Sissy Spacek (Beth Horman), David Clennon (American diplomat).

search for a young American who disappeared during the aftermath of the 1973 US overthrow of the Salvador Allende government in Chile



Good movie.  In the military dictatorship in Chile, opponents of the regime just disappear and no one knows what had happened to them, even whether they are dead or alive.   A  young American in Chile is one of those who has disappeared.  The father (Jack Lemmon) comes to Chile to find out what has happened to his son.  Because Americans are protected from any real knowledge of other nations by their extreme nationalism (love it or leave it!), the father is totally out of his element.  He finds he neither knows his son or his own country.

This is a mystery of sorts.  It is much like Costa-Gavras' s Z, but with a less happy ending.  What do you do as an American if your husband, wife or child has just disappeared during a right-wing coup; you can't get any cooperation in finding your missing loved one; and it appears that your own government is in league with the bad guys?  This is the problem that confronts Beth Horman when her husband goes missing.  She calls in her father-in-law Ed Horman, but he is as blind as a bat, completely naive and unaware that his country, the USA, actually overthrows Lain and South American governments.  He is more than blind.  He is also super critical of Beth and his missing son asking what the two have done wrong to get in trouble with the new government? 

But the ugly and blind American father is about to get a lesson in American history.  He is going to discover finally, when the blinders come off, that his own government seems complicit in the disappearance and possible execution of his son and that the US embassy and consulate officials are busy in covering up the affair and misleading the investigation.  

What did the disappeared son know that was so important that it could put his life in danger?  And just why are the American officials trying to mislead the investigation into the disappearance?

Good, solid, disturbing movie.  Conservatives will want to steer clear of this one.  (Anyway, they believe the USA has a right to overthrow other governments, as long as it in the interests of the USA or in the interests of investors in American businesses in the foreign country.)

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

Historical Background:





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