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Pinochet's Last Stand
In 1973, General Augusto Pinochet overtook Chile in a violent military coup. During his 17-year rule, he ruthlessly repressed all opposition to his regime, leading to the deaths of 3,000 civilians and the torture of another 30,000. HBO Films presents the fascinating true story of the former dictator's surprise 1998 arrest for crimes against humanity while undergoing back surgery during a vacation in London. Caught in international conflict, Pinochet's (Emmy Award winner Derek Jacobi) time in London forever changed his life - and the prospects for dictators across the globe.
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Expatriate Chileans are just itching for the man code-named "the gentleman" to arrive in the United Kingdom so they can have him detained by the court. When he does, they get their wish.
One thing that stands in the way of turning him over is that Britain did not adopt laws against torture on foreign soil until 1988. Any torture committed before then cannot be considered.
While the British Chileans explore every judical loophole to have Pinochet account for his crimes, the former dictator's lawyers mount a professional defense, and pressure on the home secretary to release him is intense. That includes pressure from the United States, Tony Blair, and the Vatican.
Into the mix comes a visit from Lady Thatcher, former prime minister of Great Britain, who gushes over the man as the "Savior of Chile." (This was the one surprise to me in the whole film, that Margaret Thatcher would have even considered the company of a mass murderer).
The Chileans too keep up the pressure, but in the end he is able to play the fool and be judged medically and psychologically incapable of standing trial. Pinochet returns to Chile, where he discards his walker after deplaning, and continues unattended.
The short drama lacks the same despite the superb acting of Derek Jacobi who plays in the title role, with a supporting cast that is top-drawer. It is the acting that carries a sparse storyline, and nudges it to the three star mark. The bottom line is the question, would I want to sit down and watch this again?
The answer is unfortunately, no.
There is no blinder person than the one who does not want to see. Open your eyes and stop lying to yourselves.
Why anyone wouldn't try making a remotely credible docudrama with believable characters is beyond me. The makers were spoon-feeding their views to the audience as if the facts just weren't enough.