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Film / missing.

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Missing is a 1982 film directed by Costa-Gavras, 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.


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Contains examples of:

  • Anachronic Order: The investigation is interspersed with flash-backs.
  • Anachronism Stew: Although the film is set in 1973, several late 1970s/early 1980s automobiles are visible in certain scenes. Furthermore, Ed is shown arriving in Chile on a Pan Am DC-10, even though the airline did not acquire that particular aircraft until 1980.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Because of the situation mentioned under California Doubling, some of the regional details are a bit off, such as the characters' dialects (see Misplaced Accent), the vehicles, and local landmarks.
  • Banana Republic: It's never explicitly mentioned that the story takes place in Chile, but the references are obvious enough.
  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • Downer Ending/Harsher in Hindsight: Charlie is confirmed dead, and Ed unsuccessfully attempts to sue the US government for their complicity in his son's death. To this day, the State Department denies any involvement in the 1973 Chilean coup. Worse, years after the film's release, with the advent of advanced DNA testing, it was determined that the body shipped back to the United States (as seen in the film's final image) was not that of Charles Horman.
  • Eagleland: The US government is implied to be complicit in the military coup. Truth in Television.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog:
    Captain Tower: I'm having dinner with the, uh, 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.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: The film's main theme, composed and performed by Vangelis. It has been extensively re-used in advertisements.
  • 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.
  • Papa Wolf: Charlie's father Ed shows this when he finds out just how oppressive the regime is, that the United States government was complicit, and the possibility his son could have been tortured and killed. He's constantly searching with Beth. Towards the end of the film, he tells off an official and sues the government.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: After the regime starts, some soldiers harass Charlie's and Beth's female friend for wearing pants as women in their country wear dresses.
  • 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.


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