Missing is a film based on real-life events that occurred in Chile in 1973
“Missing” is a film based on real-life events that occurred in Chile in 1973. Charlie Horman, a freelance writer, stumbles upon sensitive information that deals with the US involvement in a military coup to overthrow President Salvador Allende. The removal from power of President Allende lead to the disintegration of a democratic government as a military dictatorship was put into place under the control of Augusto Pinochet. According to the journal kept by Charlie, he and his companion Terry Simon spoke to several US military officials who unintentionally slipped news that the US had a major role in the coup d'etat. Tension begins to rise when Charlie's wife Beth discovers that Charlie is missing and the US embassy provides no help, as they state that he must be in hiding. The eye witness reports prove to be inconclusive as one witness proclaims that she saw Charlie being taken away by military forces while another states that he left with his friends. As the days turn into weeks, Beth calls upon her father-in-law, Ed Horman, to help her find her husband. Ed and Beth never appear to see eye-to-eye; Ed believes that the US authorities in Chile are very trustworthy and that it is best to co-operate with them if one wants to receive results. He refuses to believe that his son's disappearance might be part of a conspiracy. However, Ed later comes to realize that the ambassador cares more about the way he is perceived and less about finding his son. Their search for their son/husband comes to an end when they discover that Charlie had been killed two weeks after his capture and was buried inside the stadium wall. Ed comes to learn that the individuals whom he bestows all his hope and faith on were the bureaucrats who played a vital role in his disappearance and death.
Ed Horman a conservative businessman plays a vital role in discovering the whereabouts of his son. When we first see Ed he is unsympathetic and annoyed at his son's situation. He seems to believe that Charlie must have done something preposterous in order to get himself arrested, and believes that his disappearance was an act to publicize his upcoming autobiography. We learn that Ed and Charlie do not have strong ties together, and that Ed knows little about his son's accomplishments in life. There is also tension between him and Beth as both individuals have different political ideologies, Ed is very patriotic towards his country and believes that the US ambassador and his counsel are the most trustworthy people present in Chile. Halfway through the film there is an evident change in Ed's beliefs and behaviors; he becomes more sympathetic towards Beth's feelings. The confident Ed Horman breaks down during a meeting with the ambassador and begins to plead with officials to find his son. He even states that if he receives his son he will “absolve anyone, everyone of everything” and will not make mention of it to the police. Ed's transformation in personality allows for him and Beth to get along on a much deeper level allowing them to come together and understand the true realities of the situation without relying exclusively on what is told by the US officials.
Beth Horman is a strong and brave individual who is not opposed to stating what is on her mind. Beth is consciously aware of how the government operates and is hesitant to help the US ambassador because she realizes that any information given regarding who Charlie socialized with can lead to the execution of Charlie's colleagues. It is Beth who plays an important role in developing Ed into a sympathetic and cynical man by the end of the film.
This film stresses political themes, concepts and theories such as coup d'etat, political authority and civil liberties and rights. The coup d'etat that took place on September 11, 1973 was planned by Augusto Pinochet with the help of the US. Pinochet used his military power to overthrow the democratic government headed by Allende in order to establish an authoritarian state. Augusto Pinochet and the US officials used their political authority to stop individuals from committing acts that they felt were unjust to their new system. Pinochet used military and police to maintain order within the society; this is illustrated as a curfew had been established and anyone found wandering the streets past curfew was shot. Pinochet was responsible for the mass murders that occurred in Chile during his years of dictatorship. Thousands of corpses lay out on the street and inside buildings, some identified and others not and many more injured in the hospital.
Political authority was used to hunt down political opponents, in this instance Charlie Horman. They took away individual rights to freedom of press. When Pinochet's government felt threatened by Charlie's discovery over the US involvement, they ordered for him to be detained and then secretly killed him, sending Beth and Ed on an emotional rollercoaster. The US ambassadors used their political authority to convince Ed that they were in fact doing their best to discover his son, when in essence they were only concerned about obtaining the names of Charlie's friends so they could execute them to prevent them from spreading the truth about the US involvement. The US officials were dishonest individuals who promised immediate action, with no results. Pinochet shows that he will exert his power at his own will, not caring about the aftermath of gun violence, armed forces in the street, the injustice being served, and the unsettling sight of row after row of dead men, whom were instantly executed by the new military rule. The civil rights and liberties of all individuals became widely limited under the authority of Pinochet. Women no longer had the freedom to dress, as military forces on the street enforced women to wear dresses and would pull them aside if they were seen in anything other than a dress. The authoritarianism state established by Pinochet allowed for little or no political opposition infringing on an individual's right to free speech.
The coup d'etat that took place in this film was realistically portrayed as Pinochet took quick and sudden military actions to overthrow Allende's existing government and replace it with an autocratic government. The coup occurred within twenty-four hours with the help of US forces under the direction of President Nixon, who wanted to destabilize the regime of Allende. The director accurately shows the terror and chaos present in Chile in 1973 in which thousands of individuals died in the mass shootings.
To increase the emotional perception of the film the producers have effectively used sound effects and camera shots to capture each individual's feelings. When Ed begins to cry and pleas to the US officials to find his son, the camera is focused on Ed to demonstrate the trouble and heartache that he has been through - his hopes being crushed every single time an opportunity to find his son appears. Another instance in which the underlying emotions of the characters are portrayed accurately occurs when Beth discovers the dead body of her friend Frank who happened to be unidentified. For Beth, this death hit close to home because of the personal connection they shared; as such this wasn't like the other unidentified deaths and the director does a great job in zeroing in on the world of emotions she is going through.
The flashbacks are used effectively in the film as they help the audience piece together why Charlie was taken by military officials and gives more background information on the circumstances in Chile at the time. The bias present in the film is more directed at the US; the director implies that all individuals in the US government are corrupt and Ed Horman who was very patriotic at the beginning of the film comes to this realization towards the end. Americans like their way of life and the government works hard to maintain this standard at home, yet when Americans head off to a different country they are willing to deploy methods which are not used or considered constitutional in their own country.