The Quad


Jennifer Odiatu, Staff Writer

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At first, I didn’t know if I would be interested in watching “Captive” since it was only a class assignment in ESP 309 with Dr. Pagan.

Once I actually sat down and analyzed the contents of the film, it made me think about how disturbing it is that a government or its officials could cover up such a horrific event that took place in Argentine society. After watching this film, I was compelled to look into further details on what took place in the military dictatorship in Argentina.

Between 1976-1983, Argentina had a gruesome military dictatorship that destroyed many individual’s lives. The statistics stated that 30,000 people randomly disappeared while 500 babies were born in captivity. The statistics alone surprised me, but while watching the movie, I felt a sense of sympathy for the main character and all of the real lives that were destroyed over the span of several years from this war.

“Captive” is a 2003 Argentine film produced by Gaston Biraben. The film makes its grand entrance by showing raw footage of the 1978 Argentina World Cup. While a victorious win is taking place for Argentina, a shocking event is simultaneously happening. This event is otherwise known as the Dirty War of Argentina. While everyone is celebrating the win for Argentina, the main character, Cristina Quadri, and her father are dancing for her birthday celebration, not knowing that after her birthday celebration, her life would take a turn for the worse.

Shortly after a few scenes from Cristina talking with her alleged parents and traveling back and forth from school, an out-of-the-ordinary incident occurs. A judge by the name of Miguel Barrenechea summons Cristina in from school with a judicial court order. Her school teachers had no choice but to take her without acknowledging her alleged parents’ consent. Confused at what was happening, Cristina decides to follow a few officials to the judge’s office. Upon arriving at the office, Barrenechea asked for Cristina’s I.D. but goes on to say that she isn’t who she appears to be—her name, age, or anything of her identity is false in the eyes of the law. He later explains that during the Argentine military dictatorship, there were a series of events that took place that left children without their biological parents and forced to be raised by individuals who just took them away. He tells Cristina that unfortunately she is one of the children that were abducted from her biological parents and raised by the Quadri family. He called Cristina’s case appropriation. Appropriation is defined as the action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission.

Already in a state of shock, Cristina is presented with an elderly lady, who is her biological grandmother. Automatically in denial, Cristina disregards all evidence against how she isn’t the biological daughter of the Quadri family and immediately runs out of the judge’s office. If I were to describe what was going on in Cristina’s mind, I would call it an unsettling truth forcing to unveil itself.

The film goes on to show how Cristina faces her true reality with the help of her friend revealing key moments and details needed to help Cristina see who see really is and what kind of life she could have lived if she wasn’t abducted by the Quadri family. Even if she knew from the very beginning who her real family was, I don’t think she would like to stay with them knowing that her biological parents are still missing or possibly dead.

The film “Captive” spread light to the injustice of what occurred during the military dictatorship of Argentina. While celebrating an exciting event (Argentina World Cup), there are other serious matters that were taking place that no one actually knew about.

The director captures the depressing reality that many individuals at that time, and even now, are still facing. Just as Cristina experienced nightmares that had her wondering who her actual parents were at the time, the same shows how all individuals during the Dirty War experienced psychological traumas that either left them to end their lives or not know the truth at all. The director shows how great storytelling can tell a detrimental event that needs to be known for many centuries. Despite her alleged parents blatantly kidnapping Cristina, the director wants the audience to feel sympathetic for them since her assumed mother lost her child at birth.

Forty years later, the grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo continuously march against the dictatorship that took their children away in the late ‘70s. Many of the grandmothers are still trying to find answers as to where their children are, if they are dead or alive and why this sort of incident even occurred. While winning the victory of the Argentina World Cup, the military dictatorship put on a façade to let everyone know that nothing was happening and that all was well. They were trying to hide the truth for many years and pretend that none of the incidents from the Dirty War ever took place. Cristina was merely held captive and forced to live and believe a life that was false from the very beginning. It is sad to know that in reality, many individuals are still dealing with this traumatic event that that happened over 40 years ago.

Jennifer Odiatu is a fourth-year student majoring in communications with a minor in journalism. ✉ [email protected].

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