By Geraldine Mirabile
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Issue 449

Rojo is set in Argentina just before the right wing military coup that took place in 1976.

A man arrives in a restaurant and starts to attack and insult Claudio, a respected lawyer and the main character of the film. The altercation continues later in the evening. From that moment on Claudio will be dragged into a nightmare. And then a Chilean inspector arrives to investigate…

The film capably explores one the darkest pages in Argentina’s history.

Setting the film on the eve of a coup that brought to power the most ferocious military junta in the history of the country, Naishtat explores the collective national trauma that has not quite yet been metabolised.

In the prologue a man bursts into a restaurant screaming “fucking Nazis!” and goes on to disturb a man who is quietly sitting at his table. Meanwhile the other diners keep eating without caring about what is happening around them.

With this metaphor, Naishtat portrays the members of the Argentinian middle class and ruling class as mostly inert, or at worst complicit in what was happening in the country.

The film is a vintage-style thriller that uses camera techniques from the 1970s, with pale and unfocused colors, details and photography.

Rojo combines perfectly and brilliantly the thriller genre with an environment of restlessness and paranoia that would have preceded the coup.

The director creates a tense atmosphere and disseminates a series of clues, even metaphorical, to indicate the dark times that the country was about to experience.

The hints that we see during the film, like the scene of the missing son and the scene of the magician who makes a person vanish, represent the coming tragedy of the “disappeared”.

It is estimated that some 30,000 people were secretly detained, tortured and possibly killed by the Argentinian state between 1976 and 1983.

In one scene of an eclipse the screen is painted in red, representing the blood that will be poured in abundant quantities all over the country.

The same kind of red can be seen in the lenses of the glasses used to observe the eclipse — metaphorical glasses that the middle and upper classes will use to observe and to bear the darkness and the horror of the dictatorship.

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