Chile, Obstinate Memory

Directed by Patricio Guzmán

58 minutes / Color
Spanish / English subtitles
Release: 1998
Copyright: 1997

film still

Hearing only the official version, a generation of young Chileans has grown up with little knowledge of the historical facts surrounding the events of September 11, 1973. On that day Salvador Allende's democratically elected government was overthrown in a bloody coup by General Augusto Pinochet's army.

Patricio Guzmán's landmark film The Battle of Chile (1976) documented the "Popular Unity" period of Allende's government, the tumultuous events leading up to the coup, and Allende's death. But the memory of those times and events, captured so powerfully in The Battle of Chile, was largely barred from the collective consciousness of the Chilean people.

Now, Guzmán has returned to show The Battle of Chile in his homeland for the first time, and to explore the terrain of the confiscated (but maybe reawakening) memories of the Chilean people.

CHILE, OBSTINATE MEMORY visits with Chileans who experienced the coup first-hand (some of whom are seen in The Battle of Chile from 25 years ago). Survivors reminisce as they watch that film, recognizing lost comrades and recalling their courage, gaiety and love of life. Those who were not killed during the coup itself were crowded into the National Stadium in Santiago, where many were tortured, disappeared, and never seen again. Survivors talk about the terror that characterized the Pinochet regime until the dictator was finally obliged to relinquish power.

film still

On the streets of Santiago a group of young people are seen marching and singing the Unidad Popular anthem from the time of Allende. Looks of uneasy surprise can be seen on the faces of passers-by. They have not heard this song in almost a quarter century. A quarter century of censorship and self-censorship, buried memories and controlled grief.

In the end it is to students such as these that Guzmán shows The Battle of Chile. The surprising intensity of their reaction reveals an unquenchable thirst for truth about the past. Their confusion is palpable. Through them, the repressed feelings of an entire nation seem to find expression. They are the Chile of tomorrow.

Included in the special-edition four-disc Battle of Chile DVD

"The disquieting juxtaposition of a past so indelibly etched in the minds of one generation and a youthful population oblivious to history lends the film a haunting quality. Pic's subtlety should earn it major accolades."—Variety

"Through a careful selection of images and convincing montage, [Guzmán] makes it possible to grasp the themes of memory and forgetting through non-verbalmeans."—DOX

Also reviewed in H-Net Reviews in Humanities and the Social Sciences

Other Ways to Watch


Home use DVD for $44.98

Available online from:

Colleges, Universities, Government Agencies, Hospitals, and Corporations

Purchase DVD for $440.00

Available for educational streaming from:

Select Accolades

  • 1998 Award of Merit in Film, Latin American Studies Association
  • Grand Prize, 1997 Florence Film Festival (Italy)
  • Public Choice Award, 1997 Vue sur les Docs (France)
  • Second Coral Prize (Documentary Category), 1997 International Festival of New Latin American Cinema (Havana, Cuba)
  • 1998 Sundance Film Festival
  • 1998 New Latin American Film Festival, UCLA
  • 1997 Toronto International Film Festival


Journalism students at the University of Chile embark on an investigation of El Mercurio, the oldest newspaper in Chile.

Ignacio Aguero | 2009 | 80 minutes | Color | Spanish | English subtitles

The epic chronicle of Chile's open and peaceful socialist revolution, and of the violent counter-revolution against it in 1973, now on a special edition 4-DVD set.

Patricio Guzmán | 1998 | 320 minutes | Spanish | English subtitles

Documents the workings of Chile's Forensic Identification Unit in its quest to reclaim the identities of those 'disappeared' and killed during the Pinochet dictatorship.

Silvio Caiozzi | 2000 | 31 minutes | Color | English subtitles

In Chile's Atacama Desert, Patricio Guzman studies distant galaxies, ancient civilizations, and the remains of the disappeared.

Patricio Guzmán | 2011 | 90 minutes | Color | Spanish | English subtitles

The story of the landmark legal case against General Augusto Pinochet of Chile, before and after his arrest in London in 1998. 


Patricio Guzmán | 2002 | 109 minutes | Color | English; Spanish | English subtitles

Patricio Guzmán (The Battle of Chile) tells Allende's story, from his youth in Valparaiso and his early career, to his presidency of Chile and death during the coup of September 11, 1973.

Patricio Guzmán | 2006 | 100 minutes | Color | Spanish | English subtitles