On September 11, 1973, President Salvador Allende's democratically elected Chilean government was overthrown in a bloody coup by General Augusto Pinochet's army.
Patricio Guzman and five colleagues had been filming the political developments in Chile throughout the nine months leading up to that day. The bombing of the Presidential Palace, in which Allende died, would now become the ending for Guzman's seminal documentary The Battle of Chile (1975-78), an epic chronicle of that country's open and peaceful socialist revolution, and of the violent counter-revolution against it.
Guzman's landmark film is today considered one of the finest examples of documentary filmmaking anywhere, anytime. With minimal support and despite extreme odds this award-winning work captured an exceptional moment in history through a fertile mix of direct cinema, investigative reportage and political analysis. Instead of a chronological record, the three parts each recount the events from different perspectives. Part One focuses on the growing confrontation between Allende's supporters and the increasingly violent rebellion of the middle classes which gave the military their excuse of 'restoring order'. Part Two tracks the deterioration of Allende's position following the attempted coup of 29 June 1973, while Part Three is a coda which documents the loose coalition of workers and citizens who respond to right-wing initiatives by grassroots self-organisation in defence of Allende's visionary politics.
Part 1: The Insurrection of the Bourgeouisie
Salvador Allende begins a program of profound social and political transformations. From day one, the right organizes a series of wildcat strikes against him, while the White House asphyxiates him economically. In spite of the boycott - in March of 1973 - the parties in support of Allende win 43.4 percent of the vote. The right comes to understand that legal mechanisms will no longer work for them. From then on, their strategy will be the strategy of the military coup. "The Battle of Chile" is a fresco which shows, step by step, these acts that shook the world.