A friend and a teacher once told me that creativity is about finding connections between things that are not seemingly related. The rational part of my mind dismissed this as superficial and vaguely self-indulgent. But I present you a case where I found a movie, a book and a song inspired by one event – a coup.
I was introduced to a Costa-Gavras’ movie one late summer night in Chennai in the mid-80s. The movie Missing, based on a book by Thomas Hauser, is about the 1973 kidnap and murder in Chile of Charles Horman, a young, Harvard-educated, counterculture journalist. It is the belief of Costa-Gavras, as well as of Thomas Hauser that young Mr. Horman was executed by Chilean authorities, probably with the tacit approval of some United States representatives on the scene, because he had knowledge of United States involvement in the military coup that had overthrown the Marxist government of Dr. Salvador Allende Gossens, the Chilean President. See this video homage to this beautiful movie.
Dictator Augusto Pinochet assumed power in Chile following a United States-backed coup d’état on 11 September 1973 that overthrew the democratically elected socialist Unidad Popular government of President Salvador Allende and ended civilian rule.
Miguel Littin, a filmmaker, fled Chile during this coup. After 10 years of dictatorship, Augusto Pinochet issued a list with the names of exiles allowed to return to Chile. Miguel Littín was not included in this list, instead, he found his name in another list of people who are banned from visiting Chile. Littín decided to return to his beloved country by using a false passport, a false career background, a false excuse and even with a false wife.
During his visit Miguel, disguised as an Uruguayan businessman, directed three European film crews shooting a documentary about Chilean life under the dictatorship. He shot interviews with ordinary Chileans and people of organized resistance movements who operate underground. You can watch this documentary here.
Later I read the book Clandestine in Chile: The Adventures of Miguel Littín. It is a reportage written by Gabriel García Márquez in 1987, about the Chilean filmmaker Miguel Littín’s clandestine visit to his home country after 12 years in exile.
Now listen to this song.
In 1988 Sting released They Dance Alone or Cueca Solo in his album Nothing like the Sun. The song, he said, is a metaphor referring to mourning Chilean women (arpilleristas) who dance the Cueca, the national dance of Chile, alone with photographs of their disappeared loved ones in their hands. Sting explained his song as a symbolic gesture of protest against the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet whose regime killed thousands of people between 1973 and 1990.