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Film / Alsino and the Condor

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Alsino and the Condor is a 1982 film from Nicaragua, directed by Miguel Littin.

It is a tale of the 1979 Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua. Alsino is a peasant boy, about 12 years of age, who lives in a village in the hills. He does the things 12-year-old boys do, like climbing trees and having fumbling, awkward conversations with girls. He also has a recurring dream, in which he can fly.

Life in the hills is going on in the midst of a shooting war between the left-wing Sandinista rebels and the brutal, repressive government forces under President Anastasio Somoza. Somoza and his government are American puppets, which is why the true leader of the military forces in the area is an American officer named Frank, code name "Condor" (Dean Stockwell). Frank meets Alsino, hears his story about having a dream of flight, and, amused by this, takes Alsino for a joy ride in his Army helicopter.

Alsino is not impressed by the helicopter ride. Wishing to fly under his own power, he leaps from his tree...and of course falls and breaks his back. He winds up as a hunchback, but his spirit is undimmed. Meanwhile, Frank the American "advisor" grows increasingly frantic at his inability to control events, and takes ever more radical measures against the rebels in the region.

Made by the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, with help from Mexico and communist Cuba, at a time when the United States under Ronald Reagan was actively working to overthrow the Sandinista revolution.


  • Black Humor: The climactic bombing raid led by Frank interrupts a Passion Play in the village. The guy playing Jesus, tied to the cross, screams "Get me down you sons of bitches!"
  • Coming of Age Story: Alsino the boy puts away childish things, and finds maturity by joining the Sandinistas as a rebel.
  • Eagleland: An extreme Flavor 2 example, as American imperialists back a brutal dictatorship and unleash evil on the poor peasants of the hill country.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Frank rips into Major Gurin for machine-gunning a group of civilian refugees, telling him that if he were in the U.S. Army he'd have been court-martialed.
  • Foreshadowing: When Alsino makes his way to the rebel camp, he sees one man with a welder's torch welding sections of pipe together. It turns out he's making a bazooka, which he uses at the climax of the movie to shoot down Frank's helicopter.
  • Friend or Foe?: Frank's bombing raid hits the Somoza camp by accident, and seemingly kills all of the government soldiers except for Major Gurin—who is then lynched by vengeful villagers.
  • How We Got Here: The film starts with Alsino in the smoking ruins of a camp, before jumping back to the main story. Eventually we find out that the camp was destroyed by Frank on a bombing raid.
  • Let the Past Burn: After his grandma's death, and with no more ties to his village, Alsino sets fire to his grandpa's box of mementos before going off to join the rebels.
  • Letting the Air out of the Band: Alsino has been dragged to a brothel, where his friend is dancing with a buxom prostitute. The music they're dancing to slows and lurches to a stop...because it's playing on a wind-up record player. The madam winds the record player back up and the music starts again.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Frank takes great pleasure in continually referring to Major Gurin, leader of the government troops, as "Lieutenant".
  • Name and Name: Alsino and the Condor
  • Narrator: Alsino is occasionally heard in narration, moving the story along.
  • Nose Art: "Condor" has a condor painted on the side of his helicopter.
  • Operation: [Blank]: Condor explains "Operation Preventative Medicine", in which, he calmly states, the villagers of the area will be relocated in order to prevent them having contact with the rebels in the hills. This is followed by a terrifying scene in which the army descends on Alsino's village, forcibly ejecting everyone from their homes and sending them on the trails out from the village.
  • Passion Play: A passion play goes through Alsino's village. Alsino tries to help the actor playing Jesus as he carries his cross, only to be angrily told "Get your own cross." The Jesus guy is up on his cross when the play is interrupted by a government bombing raid.
  • Significant Name: It can't be an accident that Condor's European-accented sidekick is named "Rohm".
  • Throwing Off the Disability: In a symbolic way. At the end Alsino has taken a rifle and calls himself "Manuel", the generic name of all government rebels. He then stands straight up for the first time since he fell out of the tree.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Condor genuinely believes himself to be fighting for the forces of freedom against evil communism.
  • With Us or Against Us: Frank, who is starting to unravel under stress, screams at Rohm when Rohm says he's leaving.
    Frank: You're a Communist, or you're not!