Plot: Drawn from Mario Vargas Llosa's famous novel of life in a military school, the plot features several boys at the Colegio Militar of Lima, where the corruption that (it is implied) is typical of the military is learned and practiced. Theft, cheating and brutality are common.
In this enclosed world, Alberto is well-intentioned, a poet who dreams of escape. Ricardo is a romantic who has a crush on a heedless local girl. Jaguar is the scarred, rebellious macho who constantly challenges but also imitates the authorities, and who leads a school gang of thugs. The plot plays out the consequences of these characters in conflict, regulated by their brutal commander. Ricardo is murdered under mysterious circumstances after trying to escape; Alberto tries to Help solve his murder, implicating Jaguar. Jaguar, to his horror, is labelled by his peers not a murderer but a snitch--a much worse fate.
Style: Francisco Lombardi's mature style is on display in this well-crafted narrative drama with high production values. As suits its subject matter, the film is dark in its production design and lighting, and grimly paced. Unlike the novel, the film features uncomplicated narrative, a single dominant protagonist and straighforward chronology.
Background on director/film: Francisco Lombardi's first fature film, the 1977 Death at Dawn, was a huge internal success, the first Peruvian film to recover its costs inside Peru. Drawn from tabloid headlines, it went behind them to chart the social reasons behind the actsof a child murderer. Lombardi has continued to be the most successful and commercial filmmaker in Peru. He went on to make several feature films, of which he 1986 The City and the Dogs was the most successful nationally and internationally--Helped undoubtedly by Mario Vargas Llosa's endorsement and reputation. His 1988 La Boca del Lobo, also critically well received, situated military cadets in a mountain village under attack by Sendero Luminoso.
Film production context: See Gregorio.
Importance: Lombardi is possibly Peru's best-known filmmaker, and this is widely seen as his most successful film. It is also a film that evokes without sentimentality the roots of a brutal military culture.Further reading:
Last updated on September 17, 1996
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