Law and Democracy in Latin America

«The Children of the Disappeared

"The Official Story" Movie Description

The Official Story was directed by Luis Puenzo, an argentine film-maker, in 1985. The film won the 1985 Academy award for "Best Foreign Language Film".

The movie takes place during the first years of democracy in Argentina, after the transition from the bloody military regime that was in power from 1976 to 1983. Alicia and Roberto have an adopted daughter, Gaby. Roberto is a business man who became wealthy through his high-level contacts in the military government. Throughout the movie, Alicia becomes more and more curious and uneasy about the real origin of her beloved child. Through her friend Ana, who was brutally tortured, Alicia begins to understand how violent the military regime really was. Ana also mentions how among the "prisoners" (never convicted and illegally held) there were many pregnant women, some of whom had their babies taken away and given to high ranking government families. Since Gaby is now five years old and Alicia has no idea where she came from - Roberto organized the adoption - this frightful possibility refuses to disappear.

Increasing Alicia's unease is her high school history class. The students are skeptical of the written record, contending that history is written by assassins (such as the military).Caught between her students and Ana, Alicia is trapped by the truth, unable to escape. Turning detective she embarks on a hunt to find Gaby's real mother, or to at least determine what happened to her. Since Roberto is aggressively evasive, this involves tracking down scraps of hospital records and witnesses to Gaby's birth.

In her increasingly obsessed and desperate search, Alicia meets a member of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo. This group of women demands to know what happened to their children and grandchildren, after they were "disappeared" by the military. Assuming that Alicia is looking for her own daughter, they help by showing her numerous photo albums of the vanished and tracking down information on Gaby's birth. Roberto is under immense pressure as the military regime falls, his contacts disintegrate, and the possibility of prosecution for corruption begins to rise. He always reacts badly when Alicia inquires into Gaby's parentage. The movie shows the difficulties in dealing with the past, as well as the high level of denial in which many sought refuge during the military regime. The story also poses important questions regarding what should happen to these children of the disappeared, once their true identity is discovered.