ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Machuca -- A Movie Review and Summary: Kids' Lives in Chile Under Pinochet

Updated on August 16, 2011

Chile, 1973: Salvadore Allende is President, class division is extremely pronounced, and the country is plagued by food shortages. The people are just about at a breaking point, but for Gonzalo Infante (Matias Quer) it’s just another year at the Saint Patrick English School. That is, it’s just another year until Father McEnroe (Ernesto Malbran) decides to try to integrate the classroom which was previously exclusively middle and upper class students. He brings in several lower class children who have been living in a shanty town on the edges of Santiago, hoping to provide them with an education that will allow them to live a better life than their parents.

Pedro Machuca (Ariel Mateluna) is one of those “poor kids”, and through mutual torment by the class bully Gonzalo and Pedro become good friends. Before he knows it, Gonzalo is swept into a world where his bicycle, tennis shoes, and condensed milk are unheard-of luxuries. This is a world where people live from day to day hoping not to starve and where Pedro helps his neighbor sell flags at the numerous political demonstrations to support both their families. Suddenly the whole world is turned upside down when a military coup defeats Allende and puts their general, Augusto Pinochet, at the head of the country. What follows is a child’s-eye view of the impact of the first weeks of Pinochet’s rule on the country’s schools and poor citizens.

If you’re looking for a powerful film that focuses on the political changes in Chile during the 70s, this one is definitely it. Events similar to this have happened all over the world and continue to happen in some parts of the world. This film gives us a poignant look at changes that occur far from the centers of power, far from the political jostling, and far from the direct violence of overthrow. Nonetheless, it shows very clearly how many lives were destroyed by such violent changes and how little those who were not affected cared to pay attention.

Considering the main characters in this movie were all children, I was actually surprised at how well I liked the acting. Matias Quer seemed a bit wooden at times, though this may have been due more to the character being far from his comfort zone, even after he’d settled into friendships with lower-class kids. By far the most impressive performance was that of Ariel Mateluna, who played the part of Pedro, or “Peter”, to perfection. This is a character who had to grow up far too quickly and who is constantly battling with the responsibilities and emotions of a grown man while trying to remember to be a kid too.

As is probably obvious given the subject matter, this is not a movie for people who like happy endings. Machuca is based on actual events chronicling the ushering in of a military dictator who ordered and aided in the “disappearance” of countless people in a country that had already been struggling. Director Andres Wood did a superb job of demonstrating all this through the class prejudices, the glimpses of protest marches, and more.

The story moved along well and had a very good script. Being as it was set in Chile, I’m actually surprised at how easy it was to understand the dialog. I’ll be the first to say that my Spanish isn’t the best, but I can generally understand people from all over the world without any problem – except Chile. For those who don’t speak Spanish, the subtitles were quite accurate as far as I could tell. Due to its language and violence, this is not a movie to watch around kids, though neither get too drastically out of hand.

Overall this is an excellent film for those interested in recent Latin American history or as a clear example of the results of violent revolution. History has shown us that, almost invariably, those who have supported the violent overthrow of governments have often been the first to be punished by the new regime, and all of the problems are generally compounded until yet another violent overthrow occurs. This isn’t an easy movie to watch, but certainly worth the watching for an example of political ramifications to the general public.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)