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Film: Missing

Missing is a film by Costa-Gavras released in 1982, starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek. It depicts the overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Chilean President Salvador Allende by a far-right military junta in 1973 and its bloody aftermath.

Beth and Charlie Horman are a young American couple who have settled in Chile. They find themselves caught up in the violent overthrow of the democratic govenment but, confident in their status as expatriate US citizens, don't expect anything to happen to them. This hope turns out to be misplaced when Charlie goes missing. Beth attempts to find out what happened to him, and gets in touch with his father, who comes over to assist her. Although they initially find it difficult to get along due to generational and ideological differences, the investigation draws them closer, as they realize that Charlie has been "disappeared" by the military junta because he had accidentally overheard sensitive information about the CIA's involvement in the coup.

See here for other works with this title.


Contains examples of:

  • Anachronic Order: The investigation is interspersed with flash-backs.
  • Banana Republic: It's never explicitly mentioned that the story takes place in Chile, but the references are obvious enough.
  • Bittersweet Ending
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: When Frank and David are taken by the soldiers and brought to the stadium, David starts to panic, and Frank tries to calm him down by saying he can't take David anywhere, and next time he gets arrested, he's leaving David behind.
  • Character Development: Charlie's father transforms from annoyed, conservative American businessman to someone who gains greater respect for his daughter-in-law and son, and disgust with his government's lies and squalid complicity in Chile's brutal repressive policies.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Charlie is way too confident that being a US citizen makes him safe.
  • Eagleland: The US government is implied to be complicit in the military coup.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog:
    Captain Tower: I'm having dinner with the junta's chief of staff, Admiral Huidobro.
    Beth: God. That one again? Haven't you seen him yet?
    Captain Tower: These people are very busy right now.
  • Misplaced Accent: When the movie was made (1981), Chile was still under Pinochet's dictatorship, so it was filmed in Mexico using Mexican actors (mainly) and extras. Because of that, the Spanish in the movie sounds nothing like Chilean Spanish.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The personnel of the American embassy.
  • Tempting Fate: Frank bets David they'll get sent home by the soldiers as early as next morning. That was the last time David saw Frank alive, as he was killed when the soldiers took him away.
  • Too Much Information: Ed asks Beth what Charlie was like. When she gets to how much of a sex maniac Charlie was, however, Ed says he doesn't want to hear any more.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Beth and Charlie's father get several contradicting versions of the same events, and every time the recalled scene is altered accordingly.

Le MillionCreator/The Criterion CollectionModern Times
E.T. the Extra-TerrestrialAcademy AwardTootsie
Mazes and MonstersFilms of the 1980sMy Favorite Year

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