PBS Documentary: When the Mountains Tremble
I watched this feature length documentary film last weekend. It was excellent. It reminded me of a book I’d read years ago about the brutality that was life Central America in the 1980’s called Agony in the Garden by Edward Sheehan. Being also reminded of the part we played in that situation was a bitter pill to swallow.
I wasn’t much into politics back when I read Sheehan’s book in the early ’90s, and seeing the film triggered a disconcerting sense of déjà vu. So many familiar things in a story from nearly 30 years ago: Ronald Reagan, the (then still fairly nascent) politically active religious right he brought with him, and the pervasive fear of a sinister “other” who was stealthy approaching, intent on stealing our freedoms and destroying our way of life—of course, then the bogeyman was the communists instead of the Islamists.
Anyway, if you have a couple of hours free, there are worse ways you could spend them than watching this film. I wonder if we’ve learned from past mistakes…
When the Mountains Tremble filmed in 1982 at the height of the Guatemalan Army’s repression against the Mayan indigenous people, has become a classic political documentary. It describes the struggle of the largely Indian peasantry against a heritage of state and foreign oppression. Centered on the experiences of Rigoberta Menchú, who later became a Nobel Peace laureate, the overall effect of the film is exhilarating. With clarity and energy it conveys the birth of a national and political awareness. Prequel to the film Granito: How to Nail a Dictator