Jackal of Nahueltoro
(El Chacal de Nahueltoro)
With Nelson Villagra, Shenda Román, Marcelo Romo.
Chile, 1969, DCP, black & white, 95 min.
Spanish with English subtitles.
DCP source: Chilean Cinematheque
Miguel Littín’s now legendary debut feature is a crucial work of the New Chilean Cinema, a transformational movement that ushered an urgently realist and political imperative into Chilean filmmaking. Based on the true story of an impoverished drifter whose seemingly inexplicable cold-blooded murder of a widow and her five young children shocked the nation and set in motion a fierce debate about penal reform, El Chacal de Nauheltoro revisits the crime to ask penetrating questions about the class system and responsibility of the state towards its citizens. Following the tragic story of the killer’s difficult life as an abused orphan who never receives an education, El Chacal convincingly insists on holding to task the sociocultural conditions that shaped a life lost to indolence, alcohol and dark forces and that can push one to commit the most heinous of crimes. The cinematography of celebrated cameraman Héctor Rios Henríquez gives haunting life to the landscapes whose vast indifference to the gripping human drama speak to the larger vision of the film.