Neruda

NERUDA IS POETRY WITHIN POETRY
In 1945, Chile’s famous poet Pablo Neruda (played by Luis Gnecco) was elected Senator, choosing to run as a member of the Communist Party, which he joined after the election. The following year, Gabriel González Videla asked Neruda to be his campaign manager. But when the Cold War and McCarthyism sweeps fear around the globe, Chilean President González Videla orders the round up of members of the party, who were suddenly considered criminals and placed in detention camps, one of which has Augusto Pinochet in charge. Neruda decides to hide, aided by fellow party members, until he escapes across the snow-covered Andes to Argentina. Soon he is in Paris, where Communists are part of a United Front government. Although he later returned to Chile, the film Neruda dramatizes his period of hiding up to his escape through the eyes of a fictional police detective who is assigned to arrest him, Óscar Peluchonneau (Gael García Bernal). Rather than a quotidien cat-and-mouse pursuit, director Pablo Larraín transforms the detective into a poet of his own, complete with voiceovers from the beginning of the film, someone seeking acclaim by arresting the most famous Chilean of all time. Throughout the film, Neruda’s sincere leftism is understood as the rise of someone from the lower middle class who retains concern for the plight of workers and those less well off, which he conveys through poetry far more eloquently than perhaps anyone else in history, though the English translation deprives filmviewers of the power of his words, which inspired millions. But there is a subplot in the film that will resonate with Americans concerned with the 2016 election: While Neruda is being escorted to Argentina, his guide is a millionaire who, when asked why he is helping a communist, answers that his wealth makes him hate government.  MH