Review by Howard Dratch:
What if Oliver Stone directed a movie about the El Salvador war (which some called “civil”) back in the ’80s? What if it was a terrific movie that was lost in the blockbuster successes of some of his other films? What if, more than twenty years later, that same film can still both entertain and describe a time and a war that was important to Latin America and to the United States back 25 years — one that could happen around here again and can be compared to the Iraq conflict?
It is the story of the growth of a man from failure without understanding to failure with the weight of tragic knowledge lodged between his eyes.
There was El Salvador and the Jesuits killed, the Maryknoll sisters brutalized and executed and then the apocryphal massacre at El Mozote which was known by the locals but disbelieved and brought to light in the ’90s. The description, the story of the land and the people and the violence and inhumanity is well-written by Mark Danner.
I think it one of Stone’s best efforts, worthy of the masters of the genre like Costas-Gavras in Z [for which Z Magazine is named] and reminding me of John Dos Passos back in his 1930 novels with mixtures of story and headlines, stories and clips of the times to go with his fiction about the time.
Now our new century has begun with big changes happenning or rearing new heads that might scare us and will certainly leave the government spooks planning new interventions into the region of our neighbors that might be as ill-conceived as was El Salvador.