July 30 will be exactly 40 years since the premiere of a film that can be classified without fear of exaggeration among the best in national cinema: Revenge timeby Adolfo Aristarain. To celebrate the anniversary, Canal Volver will broadcast it on Tuesday 27 at 22.
It was winner of many awards in 1982. Internationals include the First Prize at the Havana Film Festival and the Grand Prize of the Americas at the Montreal Film Festival.
Among the nationals, the Silver Condors for Best Actor (Federico Luppi), Best Director (Adolfo Aristarain), Best Original Screenplay (Aristarain) and Best Film from the Argentine Association of Film Critics.
Federico Luppi with Julio de Grazia in “Time for revenge”.
What is it about
Former trade unionist Pedro Bengoa (Luppi), after “cleaning up” his past, gets a job in the mines of the Tulsaco company, where he meets a former colleague, Bruno Di Toro (Ulises Dumont), who, after some time, propose a plan: simulate an accident and impersonate dumb to collect compensation. But something unexpected happens.
Attention: hereafter, the note contains spoilers. The plan after the accident was to pretend that Di Toro had lost his speech, to negotiate compensation with the company. But the explosion gets out of hand and Di Toro loses his life, while Bengoa is apparently left speechless.
The company suspects that it was an intentional maneuver and initially refuses to pay compensation. But then he offers Bengoa half a million dollars. Despite this, the former trade unionist changes his mind, and decides to initiate a lawsuit against the company. A) Yes, take the conflict to its last consequences.
Federico Luppi with Ulises Dumont in “Time for revenge”.
Aristarain and the Luppi-Dumont duo
This is Aristarain’s fourth film, although it is only the second of his that could be called an author’s work, because upon his debut, The lion’s share (1978), two commercial products made almost to order followed, The beach of love (1979) and The disco of love (1980).
And it was un show-off vehicle for the initial step of the Luppi-Dumont duo, which would later become one of the fundamentals of national cinema by working together again in Last days of the victim (1982), There will be no more sorrow or forgetfulness (1983), The year of the rabbit (1987), No option (1995) and Rosarigasinos (2001), among others.
They also had prominent roles in the cast Haydée Padilla, Julio De Grazia and Rodolfo Ranni. Other well-known names in the cast were Aldo Barbero, Enrique Liporace, Arturo Maly and Ingrid Pelicori.
Federico Luppi with Julio De Grazia in “Time for revenge”.
Allegory or not?
Revenge time It was considered many times, during the four decades since its premiere, an allegory of repression and the state of violence during the last military dictatorship. According to this view, Bengoa’s muteness – the character played by Federico Luppi – would be the symbol of a society silenced and cowed by fear.
For its part, the fictitious multinational Tulsaco would represent the dictatorship itself, and the imprisonment of the protagonist in the hotel would refer to the clandestine kidnappings. These performances, despite their good intentions, have done nothing but detract from the film.
The alleged allegorical content of Revenge time it is, in fact, outside the work itself, in the interpretations of its exegetes or even in some statement by Aristarain, but not in the tense and exciting almost two hours that the film lasts.
A review shows that it is literal, in the best classical tradition. The characters have such polished humanity that they resist any chance of becoming archetypes. or emblems of nothing.
At the same time, Aristarain’s proven narrative ability, never better carried to extremes of perfection than here, you do not need to resort to encrypted keys or hidden meanings to account for a world, an ethic and a country at one point.
Haydée Padilla with Federico Luppi in “Time for revenge”.
The part for the whole
Revenge time He speaks, obviously, of the dictatorship, fear and submission, but he does so in a direct and concrete way. If it were an allegory, it would be referring to an abstract dictatorship, to a country that never existed. The realism of the staging and the concrete references in various lines of dialogue leave no doubt as to which is the real reference.
For example, it is explicitly said that Bengoa is a dynamiter who managed to hide his past as a union leader to get a job in a multinational mining company. It is also a mistake to want to attribute allegorical content to Tulsaco, when the subjugation of employees and the abuse of violence are literal enough to understand what is being talked about.
In any case, we could say that Revenge time has a metonymic character: that is, that seeks to describe a part to refer to a whole. Aristarain avoided, due to a forced strategy in the face of censorship, to tell some things, but he didn’t have to lie to do it.
Federico Luppi and Ulises Dumont in “Time for revenge”.
The best film about the dictatorship
And in a movie where the characters play ethical issues all the time, the director’s ethical decisions become decisive. Yes Revenge time It was a brave movie it was precisely to take charge of what he was telling.
The narrative premise of the film is original: using Bengoa’s sudden muteness as a strategy to fool the Tulsaco company. With his silence, Bengoa not only defies the system, he defeats it.
That muteness is a perfect narrative device to arrange a network of power relations between the characters, a means for ethical choices to get in the way of each one of them.
The film presents topics played for the cinema of the time, such as a Ford Falcon that throws a corpse into the street, or the final mutilation that is the price that Bengoa must pay for his daring. A) Yes, Time for revenge stands as the best film about the dictatorship made during the dictatorship.