Synopsis of Part 2:
THE BATTLE OF CHILE (2): The Coup d’Etat (1976) opens with the attempted military coup of June, 1973 which is put down by troops loyal to the government. It serves as a useful dry run, however, for the final showdown, that everyone now realizes is coming. The film shows a left divided over strategy, while the right methodically lays the groundwork for the military seizure of power. The film’s dramatic concluding sequence documents the coup d’etat, including Allende’s last radio messages to the people of Chile, footage of the military assault on the presidential palace, and that evening’s televised presentation of the new military junta.
Publisher’s description of The Battle of Chile trilogy:
THE BATTLE OF CHILE, which chronicles the tumultuous last months of Salvador
Allende’s Popular Unity government (1970-1973) in Chile, has been internationally hailed as a powerful historical portrait of the passions of a people divided and a nation on the brink of civil war. The Equipo Tercer Año, the Chilean filmmaking team led by Patricio Guzmán—including cameraman Jorge Müller Silva, chief of production Federico Elton, soundman Bernardo Menz, and assistant director Jose Pino—which photographed and assembled this three-part, four-and-a-half-hour epic documentary, offers the viewer the vivid experience of being thrust into the midst of a society in crisis. The camera is seemingly everywhere, from intense debates in the halls of congress to the smoke and violence of street demonstrations, from the army’s raids on industrial centers for “stockpiled weapons” to mass political rallies in the streets of Santiago, and from the unforgettable sequence in which a newsreel cameraman records his own death by gunfire to the devastating aerial bombardment of the presidential palace.
On September 11, 1973, President Salvador Allende’s democratically-elected Chilean government was overthrown in a bloody coup by General Augusto Pinochet’s army. Patricio Guzmán and five colleagues had been filming the political developments in Chile throughout the nine months leading up to that day. The bombing of the Presidential Palace, during which Allende died, would now become the ending for Guzmán’s seminal documentary THE BATTLE OF CHILE, an epic chronicle of that country’s open and peaceful socialist revolution, and of the violent counter-revolution against it.
After its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and winning eight Grand Prize awards at other international festivals, when THE BATTLE OF CHILE came to the United States it was immediately hailed by critics as “Spellbinding”, “Overwhelming”, and as “An epic!” The Village Voice called it “The major political film of our time,” and the San Francisco Chronicle “A landmark in the presentation of living history on film.”