The Falkland Islands, 1982...
Argentine soldiers have landed on the islands and are preparing to defend what they consider to be an integral part of their country: the Malvinas. Men are running around, hectic orders are being followed, final preparations are being made.
Off the coast of Argentina Royal Navy ships are carrying British fighter jets that will soon enter the Malvinas air space. Backed by NATO and a neutral US government the British are poised to defend what they consider an invasion of British territory. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her ministers have given green light to the use of military force.
Back on the Malvinas three friends - Vargas (Pablo Ribba), Esteban (Gaston Pauls), and Juan (Cesar Albarracin) - are longing for the days when they made love to their wives. This is not their war! They are scared, cold, and unsure what the future holds.
In a matter of hours all hell breaks loose. The Royal Navy unleashes a sea of bombs. The Argentine troops are pushed back towards the center of the islands where their commanding post is. British forces are dispatched to the ground.
Soon, the Argentine generals are told that the British have considered the use of nuclear weapons. The end as it seems is near. Capitulation is inevitable!
A tour-de-force full of gritty action Tristan Bauer's Iluminados por el Fuego a.k.a Illuminated by Fire (2005) brings to life a bitter memory from the not so distant past: the Falklands War. Told through the recollections of an Argentine war-veteran who must cope with the suicide of his best friend this is a film that shows how incredibly manipulative politics can be, on both sides: the Argentine military government attempting to prolong its life amidst fears of a civil war, the conservative cabinet of Margaret Thatcher desperately attempting to survive an inevitable electoral defeat (for Thatcher's government the Falklands victory did indeed translate into electoral win).
It is hard not to feel for those who became involved in this most ludicrous war (the Vargases, Estebans, and Juans shown in this film are all over Argentina). It is even harder not to feel, though this must be a different kind of feeling, for the governments that let their people exterminate each other in the name of a noble cause - the British justifying their imperialistic interests by claiming "invasion of UK soil", the Argentine abandoning diplomacy in exchange of dubious "sovereign interests".
Above all however this Argentine picture comes as a lesson! Of the best kind! Iluminados por el Fuego revives a tragic conflict which many I am convinced will be surprised to learn remains unsolved: the British continue to claim the Falkland Islands a British territory granting British citizenship to all Faulklenders, the Argentine government maintaining the Malvinas remain an integral part of our country.
See the trailer:
How Does the DVD Look?
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and enhanced for widescreen TV's the film looks gorgeous! The print is sharp, vivid, and practically free of any damage. Edge-enhancement is not an issue here. The gritty atmosphere from the battle scenes is recreated remarkably well (there is plenty of grain during the night scenes and excellent color hues during the heavy fog scenes). All in all there is hardly anything here that one could be unhappy with: a stellar progressive and anamorphic transfer! PAL-encoded, Region 0.
How Does the DVD Sound?
Presented with a Spanish 5.1 track the audio treatment is one of a kind! The 5.1 mix is loud, clear, and during the battle scenes exemplary. To be honest I am not sure this disc would have benefited from the inclusion of a DTS track. All that one would want to have from a DTS track is right here: bombastic sound and a great use of the rears! I am impressed! With optional English and French subtitles.
None of the extras on this disc are subbed in English so I am simply going to list them: a theatrical trailer, a "Making of", a music video (Para la Vida), cast info, crew info, filmographies.
Excellent film! Named Best Narrative Feature at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival this is indeed a production that forces you to think how the more things change the more they stay the same. It is sad to see that some states haven't really learned anything from history! Their history!
This review was made possible with the kind assistance of Xploited Cinema.