Machuca Film analysis

ESSAY: Machuca


Traditionally defined by the transition from adolescence into adulthood, the coming-of-age story has taken many shapes and forms around the world. Most involve a rite of passage, a journey that takes the character from innocence to self-discovery. They tend to emphasize an internal dialogue and sometimes is told from the point-of-view of the now adult character. It can tackle issues of sexual identity, depression, suicide…and social inequality. They are sometimes imbued with a nostalgic aura, of days gone by.

Andrés Wood’s Machuca(2004) takes the basic premise of a coming-of-age story and turns it on its head. The backdrop: the days leading to the overthrow of the democratically elected government of President Salvador Allende in 1973. Our protagonist: Gonzalo, a shy, upper class boy who’s bullied at his private English-only Catholic school. Yet, the film is named after after one of the poor students allowed into the school by the school’s progressive Catholic priest. They soon become friends and as, per the film generic rules, Gonzalo discovers a whole new world through Machuca. We see this world through his eyes

No film is a better example of the political defined by the personal experience addressed in class than Machuca.


Write a 600-750 word essay around the film’s point of view. Pick one or two scenes to answer the following: How does Wood use Gonzalo’s point of view to explore Chile’s class disparities? How does Gonzalo’s point of view impact how we perceive that particular moment in history? How does that history slowly but surely intrude in Gonzalo’s world? By telling the story through Gonzalo’s point of view, how much information is Wood sharing or withholding from us?

For this assignment you will need to do some minor research and reading on the causes that led to the coup d’etat, particularly on the role the middle class had in the days leading to the coup (the reading will also help you when we turn our attention to Pablo Larraín’s Post-Mortemin class).


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