Field of Science

Nostalgia de la Luz

The present does not exist. All notions of the present are built upon the history of light. Patricio Guzmán's makes these surreal claims as he narrates in his documentary Nostalgia de la Luz (or Nostalgia for the Light) as he draws out the connections between astronomers and those searching for bones in Chile's Atacma Desert. Guzmán is obsessed with history and talented at drawing strange parallels in this compelling film. Chile under the rule of Pinochet in the '70s has a dark history of kidnapping, concentration camps, and mass murders of political dissidents. Chile also has clear dark skies which astronomers have fallen in love with.

I saw this film this evening and I was impressed. It takes one of the best parts of astronomy and projects it on to a real human conflict in a way that is scientifically tasteful and touching at once. There is a lot that could be said about the film and the director as well who was in exile from Chile in the '70s, but there is an easy way to summarize the film: the most profound questions about the Universe and human existence are the same. However, this summary doesn't do the film justice as it uses strong imagery to evoke what can't be said. I did not know that the half illuminated moon and a human skull looked so similar. In the end though you are left with the realization that those searching in Chile's deserts will not be able to change the past.

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