In 1985, prosecutors Julio César Strassera and Luis Moreno Ocampo fights a criminal case against the military dictators that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. When Strassera is unable to recruit lawyers to form his prosecution team, then Ocampo joins his cause and shockingly recruits a bunch of young law graduates and amateur lawyers to take on the most powerful people in the country.
The Argentine military led by Jorge Rafael Videla seized political power during the 1976 coup against Isabel Perón. When the military established their government, they proceeded to launch their state terrorism campaign which is famously known as the ‘Dirty War‘ that lasted until 1983.
Under this campaign, around 9,000 to 30,000 civilians including the supporters of Perón were either killed or forcibly disappeared. Many of the victims were tortured and were put to extrajudicial murder.
For these intolerable crimes against humanity, the ‘Trial of the Juntas‘ happened two years after the military dictatorship collapsed in 1983 severely after losing the Falklands War against the British. This trial was a historical moment because, for the first time, a civil justice convicted a military dictatorship. And this trial is what the film ‘Argentina, 1985‘ is based on.
The film with all its seriousness finds a narrative way that is convincing for the audience. It is a well-directed film. In 140 screen minutes, the film covers the difficulties the prosecutor Strassera faced, the efforts of the young prosecution team in building a solid case against the criminals, the addresses of the victims that were painful, and many more.
Strassera is the central figure of the film where the writing acknowledges how stressful it was to take the case as well as look after the family. Ocampo, who worked with him in this trial, was also severely under-pressure. There is a sequence where Ocampo is scared of something bad occurring in the court. I liked that part of giving the audience a horror image of the prosecutors who are playing with fire and are unable to hold their temporary mental catastrophe.
The courtroom drama is absolutely not dramatic to the usual standards that we often watch. And due to this reason, the audience will get a real feel of the proceedings. The real heart of the film is in the middle that will boil the blood listening to the tortures the witnesses suffered when they testify in the cross-examination phase, particularly of Adriana Calvo.
As far as accuracy is concerned, the film has used real footage to level the dramatization. A few aspects of the writing are true but some of the scenes looked to be exaggerated like the prosecutor and Viola making insulting gestures, judges at the restaurant, Judith mocking the lawyer, and the interviews of the young graduates, etc.
Strassera’s closing argument is around nine minutes of screen time which indicates how significant this address was for justice and the people of Argentina. The audience may feel that the closing argument had no intensity and Strassera just read the argument. But this is exactly how Strassera, in real, addressed the court. The spectators getting jubilant and emotional with a standing ovation is all in the footage.
The makers surely had plenty of options to entitle the film. The most fitting could have been ‘Juicio a las Juntas’ (Trial of the Juntas) but they chose ‘Argentina, 1985’. That leads to a few theories that make this title a more fitting title than ‘Juicio a las Juntas’. The most compelling theory is that this year was a defining moment in the country’s history that learned from the political mess and shaped the country for better economic and social growth.
I am not sure how often an Argentine or Spanish film has dramatized this event before. But I feel that this was the need of the hour. The fall of the military dictatorship is considered the re-independence of the country.
This historical drama successfully highlights how the judicial system of a country sets an example for others and brings dangerous people to justice. I wanted to watch a short dramatization of military violence to initiate this film. Looks incomplete without it. But in all sorts, ‘Argentina, 1985’ has set the bar high for courtroom dramas. And addressed their national crisis with justice.
SUBSCRIBE TO MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL AND WATCH MY FILM REVIEW HERE
FOLLOW ‘THE DARK KNAIK’ ON OTHER SOCIAL PLATFORMS