Film Column – El Conde

Pablo Larraín's new film, El Conde is a work of rare quality on Netflix.

FORMER Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet will be remembered by history as the monster responsible for torturing, killing, and disappearing 3,065 people in the veiled pretext of fighting communism.

A dark time in the Latin American country’s history, Pinochet’s military junta saw some 28,000 arrests, with the majority of those incarcerated and many tortured.

Pablo Larraín’s new film, El Conde, a work of rare quality on Netflix, depicts Pinochet as a 250-year-old vampire with a bloodthirsty legacy dating back to the French Revolution.

A young officer present at Place de la Concorde when the ill-fated queen of France, Marie Antoinette, was guillotined, Pinochet shared her love of all things lavish and would follow in her footsteps to scandalise society, but for a whole set of more inhuman reasons.

Larraín’s dark horror/comedy imagines a parallel universe inspired by the recent history of Chile. The film portrays Augusto Pinochet (Jaime Vadell), a symbol of world fascism, as a vampire who lives hidden in a ruined mansion in the cold southern tip of Patagonia.

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Feeding his appetite for evil to sustain his existence, the shamed dictator, written out of his nation’s history books, decides to stop drinking blood and abandon the privilege of eternal life. He can no longer bear that the world remembers him as a thief. Despite the disappointing and opportunistic nature of his family, he finds new inspiration to continue living a life of vital and counterrevolutionary passion through an unexpected relationship.

According to the film’s director, he wanted to show the brutal impunity that Pinochet represents.

“For that, we have used the language of satire and political farce, where the General suffers an existential crisis and must decide if it is worth continuing his life as a vampire, drinking the blood of his victims, and punishing the world with his eternal evil. An allegorical reminder of why history needs to repeat itself in order to remind us of how dangerous things can become,” he explained.

Larraín’s artfully shot and devilishly droll film unquestionably captures the stark reality of this decaying dictator’s fascist regime and the grotesque travesty of his unblinking conceit.

One of the most striking and beautiful films of the year.