Nostalgia de la luz— the entirety of the documentary is simply captured in the title itself. It is an in-depth glance at a past through the study of archaeology, astronomy, and the Chilean’s recent political past, documented by Patricio Guzmán. Such vast concepts, it seems– so detached from each other, yet, the film is connects them all so flawlessly– as if its contents we bound in the book of life, neatly tied with a ribbon, and placed above your welcome mat, beneath the rising sun on a Sunday morning. By the end of the film, the vastness of life, faith, time, and history are graspable concepts that are explained by the sciences and pain that flourish in the Atacama Desert.
The film is narrated with a captivating poetry that speaks in simply words and exudes in truth, connect all of the ideas. It shines a light on the fact that the Atacama Desert’s geographic location– placed so high with a lack of humidity, with transparent skies– makes the place a haven for astronomers and archaeologists. The desert is devoid of any creature or plant, left with nothing but gusts of wind, cracked grounds, mountains, and sand dunes, yet, among this stillness and lack of life, three groups of people find that it is a portal in which they can clearly see the past; The Atacama Desert presents itself as a place that perfect to unveil the past.
The greatest connector of all of the three main topics was the concept of time. At the beginning the film, the audience is introduced to an astronomer explaining how astronomy studies delayed light, created millions of years ago and being received today. Then, the film is continues with the introduction of an archaeologist that studies the depths of the Earth from the Atacama Desert. Lastly, we are introduced to a women that search for their loved one’s remains in the desert after Pinochet’s regime.
One of the main themes presented was the paradox between it being acceptable for astronomers and archaeologists to explore the past thousands and millions of years ago, yet Chile’s recent past, regarding the disappearance of thousands of political prisoners during Pinochet’s era, remains a mystery and unspoken. The director highlights that society accepts a scientist’s quest for answers through the past, searching through the dirt and into the sky, however, a human being sifting the surface of the dirt, in search of her loved ones is perceived as crazy and sad. The interviews in the film thrive in substance, slowly piecing all ideas and concepts together brilliantly.
Overall, despite the film exploring an array of science, the entire purpose of the film humbles the audience, and above all things– in it’s exploration of time, the metaphysical, and the curiosity, passion, aches, and beauty of life– makes you realize that the core of humanity and unity resonates in everything simple, and everything abstract.
Watch the trailer with English subtitles below:
This film was reviewed at the Cine Las Americas International Film Festival. Cine Las Americas is a multi-cultural, 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Austin Texas. The mission of Cine Las Americas is to promote cross-cultural understanding and growth by educating, entertaining and challenging diverse audiences through film and media arts.