Gritty and gripping, Chronicle of an Escape is a true story about innocents and leftists who “disappeared” at the hands of the Argentine juntas during 1976-1983. The filmmakers show how interrogators use torture, starvation, and humiliation to crush the human spirit.
But while as many as 30,000 people became Desaparecidos, and are assumed dead, this story follows a young goalkeeper who escaped the detention facility known as Atila, or la Mansión Seré, after 121 days. Claudio Tamburrini and his 3 fellow escapees eventually went on to testify at the juntas’ war criminal trials.
There is very little soccer in the film, as in fact, Tamburrini was not a great goalkeeper and at first, he thought his incarceration was related to his being waived by the team. After watching this film, I was amazed to learn that post-escape, he obtained asylum in Sweden and went on to earn his PhD in philosophy. He is now a professor of penal and sports philosophy at the University of Gothenburg.
Tamburrini contributes articles to playthegame.org, an interesting website and annual conference organized by Idan, the Danish institute for Sports Studies, whose aim is “to strengthen the ethical foundation of sport and promote democracy, transparency and freedom of expression in sport”.
In 2002, Tamburrini published his autobiographical “Pase libre: La fuga de la Mansión Seré”, upon which the movie is based. Guillermo Fernandez, who planned the escape, became an actor and plays the judge who sends his character to Atila. Note that March 24, 1978 is now a public holiday in Argentina: the “Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice” to honor Los Desaparecidos.
According to the DVD The History of Soccer, the juntas used the 1978 World Cup as propaganda to camouflage the crackdowns they were perpetrating. This was brought home to me with a scene in the movie where the captors are entranced by the game on TV but the prisoners pass up their chance to assail them.
Later, Tamburrini wrote an essay defending the ethical correctness of celebrating a World Cup victory when it was a tool for an oppressive regime. He and others pointed out that the mass celebrations were the first open demonstrations, and could have contributed to the subsequent fall of the juntas.
The DVD has an extra making-of feature with English subtitles.
5 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 5