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Nostalgia For The Light - Movie Review of Nostalgia For The Light - 2010

Searching For Truth in Chile's Atacama Desert

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Nostalgia For The Light - Movie Review of Nostalgia For The Light - 2010

Nostalgia For The Light Poster Art

Icarus Films
Patricio Guzman's beautifully filmed documentary is an exploration of Chile's remote and pristine Atacama Desert, an arid area that attracts three groups of researchers, each searching for answers to essential human inquiries. With his refined and rather pensive narration, Guzman connects the three apparently disparate searches into a comprehensive and profoundly challenging inquiry into the origins of the universe and of humankind.

Astronomers and Archaeologists

Because of its unique geography and climate, Chile's remote Atacama Desert provides an ideal environment for scientists to pursue answers to essential questions concerning the origin of our solar system and of humankind.

Astronomers peer through a huge telescope into the clear night skies, tracking the evolution of known celestial spheres and discovering others, and analyzing the chemical composition of stars and collections of gases swirling through space. They track and calculate the presence of calcium in the celestial spheres, on our planet and in our bones.

Archaeologists, anthropologists and paleontologists sift through desert sand to find long buried skeletal fragments and shards of artifacts belonging to our prehistoric human ancestors. They've discovered mummies and remnants of ancient civilizations preserved beneath shrouds of sand.

Patricio Guzman focuses his lens on what astronomers see when they look through their telescope, and the scenery is awesome. The images are presented without labels or place identifiers. They are just there for your enjoyment and contemplation.

Then, we're taken to the protected sites where archaeologists are carefully extracting information from earth so arid and red it looks like a Martian landscape. Again, there are no maps to situate you, the viewer.

Patricio Guzman: Filmmaker, Guide and Humanist

Nostalgia For The Light: Astronomers, Archaeologists and Mothers Seeking Truth in Atacama Desert

Icarus Films
Follow Guzman's guidance - suggested with poetic narration and stirring music - through a realm that's both physical and philosophical. The film's contemplative tone is furthered with on camera interviews with astronomers and archaeologists speaking not of hard facts, but of concepts formed through their research and life in the Atacama Desert. For example, Gaspar, a young astronomer, asserts that all we perceive to be happening in the present has actually occurred in the past - even if only by nanoseconds - because perceptions of things outside of our minds are transmitted by nerves and the transmission takes time - even if only nanoseconds. Information input through vision is delivered by light moving at a specific speed from whatever we're looking at to our eyes. We see things not as they happen, but after they happen. By the time we see something, it's already changed into something else. The film is filled with similarly fascinating ideas.

Past, Present and Distraught Mothers

Atacama Desert also hides secrets from Chile's recent past. During his repressive 17-year dictatorship, Augusto Pinochet 'disappeared' thousands of Chileans, many of whose brutalized bodies were tossed into the sea or dumped in the Atacama Desert. Now, mothers, wives and children of the 'disappeared' scour the sands looking for the remains of loved ones, seeking relief from their ongoing grief. Astronomers and archeologist's help them. With strikingly emotional effect, Guzman reveals philosophical synapses between these seemingly disparate seekers of truth. This is a profoundly humanistic film.

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Film Details:

  • Nostalga For The Light
  • Director: Patricio Guzman
  • World Premiere: October 2010; US Theatrical Release Date: March 18, 2011
  • Running Time: 90 mins.
  • Parental Advisory: Content advisory for parents
  • Location: Atacama Desert, Chile
  • Language: Spanish, with English subtitles
  • Production Country: France, Germany, Chile
  • Production Company: Atacama Productions
  • Distribution Company: Icarus Films

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