Chronicle Of An Escape
R1 - America - Genius Products
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (19th August 2008).
The Film

It’s a true mark of talent for a director to build up tension in a movie based on true events, simply because if the story has been heard, or especially if it’s summarized at the beginning of the movie, much of the unexpected becomes expected. Director Israel Adrián Caetano’s latest effort does a fantastic job of utilizing a solid visual style combined with great acting in order to make a compelling ‘based on a true story drama’ in “Chronicle of an Escape.”

The story centers on soccer/futbol goalie Claudio Tamburrini (Rodrigo de la Serna), who wrote the memoir which the film was based on, who is kidnapped after returning home from a soccer match and whisked away to a secret prison inside a rundown suburban mansion. Claudio quickly learns that he has been falsely accused of conspiracy against the current military regime. Trapped with a diminishing group of fellow supposed conspirators, Claudio and the others are tortured and brutalized over the next 128 days until they finally attempt their escape.

First and foremost has to be the talent that Caetano wields behind the camera, the tension he builds is what makes the movie engaging, keeping these men’s survival and desperation constantly at the forefront of the viewer’s eye. His shot selection consistently keeps the focus where it should be, on the desperation and brutality experienced by these men really drawing in the audience. This combines with the cinematography by Julián Apezteguia to make for a very gritty and stylish film. There’s a fine line between a style that’s clean and style that’s overly flashy, but Caetano and Apezteguia walk it with confidence, never allowing themselves to make a shot that takes the viewer out of the movie by over indulging themselves in the experience. The film manages to stay realistic yet very stylistic, which is probably what helps to make this story so visually engaging.

One of the aspects I liked most about the film though is that it never became preachy, I’ve heard reviews from other people and critics that say the movie should have gone farther in politicizing it’s content, but if anything that would have diminished the true story of these men. Since the story is based on Claudio Tamburrini’s autobiography, it picks up from his perspective and stays with it almost entirely through the movie. Aside from the introductory captions that describe the political situation at the time, there’s very little display of the actual governmental powers. Instead we mostly see the secretive forces deployed by the right-wing military dictatorship that are dressed in fairly casual wear for the 1970’s. Rather than spend time engaged in heated political discussions, or focus on the corrupt leadership that caused this situation to transpire, the film focuses on these men’s survival which, in and of itself, commentates on the potential for resistance and resilience in everyone.

The actors’ portrayal of desperation and survival helps to make the movie as good as it is, going from the initial confusion of being disappeared by the government to gradually building an odd camaraderie in spite of being always blindfolded and constantly tortured. All of the acting, directing and storytelling are fortified by the subtle yet intense score by Iván Wyszogrod builds up the tension through the movie, never going too far to intrude or overshadow the film. Instead Wyszogrod keeps it dramatic and almost ambient, keeping you nervous even though the introductory historical background of the film, and the title, let you know that an escape occurs.

Overall, a fascinating and engaging movie that suffers a bit from mis-packaging that tries to sell this very visual thriller focused on confinement as an action-type chase movie with a heavy use of motion blur. I’m still divided over how I feel in terms of the length of the film, the last third of it seems to go by so quickly that the ending felt unsatisfying for a little while after it ended because I felt like I wanted more. The more I think about it though the more important it is that the movie ends the way it does with that feeling of ‘now what?’ as it just shows that even though you go into the film knowing the escape is going to happen, the film is compelling enough to really draw you in.

Video

“Chronicle of an Escape” is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio and the transfer comes across really clean. I’ve already praised the cinematography and directing, and the transfer really helps to keep the film looking clean. There’s not a lot of noticeable grain and the colors seem crisp, if fairly disconcerting and depressing within the dilapidated makeshift prison inside the mansion.

Audio

The Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track is really good in the film, the use of ambient noise and the sound track are blended really well. All the sound levels are where they need to be based on the moment, especially in certain moments of intensity cutting out all unimportant sound leaving the moment to linger with just Wyszogrod’s score to propel the audible tension.
Subtitles are available in English, English for the Hearing Impaired and Spanish.

Extras

The disc features two featurettes, deleted scenes, cast and crew biographies along with some theatrical trailers, all described below:

The first featurette is “The Making of ‘Chronicle of An Escape’” which runs for 31 minutes and 8 seconds. There are portions of interviews scattered in, but the making of mostly consists of behind the scenes and on-set footage of the film which is fairly interesting in seeing some of the makeup and how the director works, but I really wanted to hear more from the director and the production designers on the film.

The second featurette is “A Trip to Stockholm: Visiting Exiled Former Captives Claudio Tamburrini & Guillermo Fernández” runs for 12 minutes and 35 seconds. This featurette catches up with the two men who actually made the escape, it’s interesting to see these men’s opinions and perspectives on the experience, especially how much they tease each other and joke about it after the fact. They also talk about the trial when they both testified about their experiences as being kidnapped by the government. Though it’s shot on a handheld homemade camera, it’s definitely worth watching to hear from Tamburrini and Fernandez in person.

Next up are the deleted scenes, 8 in all and include:

- “Guillermo meets Claudio” runs for 2 minutes and 56 seconds, Guillermo takes Claudio to the bathroom and Claudio tries to get some information about where he is.
- “Lucas’ Introduction” runs for 55 seconds, Lucas arrives at the house.
- “Story of the Haunted House” runs for 4 minutes and 17 seconds, Lucas oversees everyone cleaning and messes with their minds.
- “The Veterans Wait for Food” runs for 1 minute and 11 seconds, Claudio and the others hope for food.
- “To Escape or Not” runs for 1 minute and 37 seconds, Gallego, Claudio and Guillermo debate the merits of escape.
- “Truco, Guillermo and Claudio Cleaning” runs for 7 minutes and 35 seconds Guillermo and Claudio clean while the others play cards with the guards.
- “Attempting to Steal a Car” runs for 51 seconds, the escapees try to hotwire a car for their getaway.
- “Lucas’ Return to Seré Mansion” runs for 1 minute and 5 seconds, Lucas returns to the mansion in the morning after the escape.

There’s a Cast & Crew Biographies feature that gives readable bios for the cast accessible from the special features menu. Biographies are included for:

- Director Israel Adrián Caetano
- Rodrigo de la Serna
- Pablo Echarri
- Lautaro Delgado
- Matías Marmorato

The theatrical trailer for “Chronicle of an Escape” runs for 1 minute and 15 seconds.

There are also bonus trailers for:

- “The Last Winter” runs for 1 minute and 48 seconds.
- “Out of the Blue” runs for 1 minute and 12 seconds.

Overall

The Film: A- Video: A- Audio: A Extras: B- Overall: A-

 


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