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THE TRAITORS

Argentina, 1973 (MIFF 1974)

Director: Members of Grupo Cine de la Base

The Traitors is directed and performed by a group of professional and amateur film-makers known only as the Grupo Cine de la Base. They are drawn from Argentina's new revolutionary left, and the main targets of their film are the right-wing Peronists who have taken over the new Peron government. The Traitors, of course. was suppressed in Argentina.

It follows out (he gradual corruption of a Peronist union leader who comes to identify his own interests with those of the employers, and sells out the workers. Roberto Barrera is at first a convinced advocate of workers" lights, but he slowly succumbs to capitalist pressures. He makes deals with the factory bosses, the military government and United States capitalists for his own gain.

The film explores his personal life, his early embarrassment at disclosing to his wife his double-dealings with the workers, and his growing insensitivjty to her, Finally, he dreams that he is attending his own funeral, while the capitalist who has bribed him, laughs throughout the ceremony. It turns out to be a prophetic dream: the workers realize he has betrayed their interests, and Barrera is assassinated.

The Traitors also attacks conditions of employment in Argentina's factories. In one sequence on the physical examination workers must take when they apply for a job, two women stand naked and humiliated, while the doctor jokes about them to a friend.

But the film's central concern is to represent Barrera's betrayal as integral to right-wing Peronism. Its inescapable conclusion is that violent revolution is the country's only cure.

'It supports violence matter-of-factly, without pretending to be about something else, as did Costa-Gavras' State of Siege. It's not a movie I can praise or condemn. I accept it as a report from a new battlefield.'

Vincent Canby, The New York Times

'Of all the villains in recent semi-historical political films (Battle of Algiers, Z, State of Siege) Barrera is the most believable. The filmmakers avoided caricature, showing instead a man who is weak rather than evil, pathetic rather than ludicrous.'

Jerry Oster, New York Daily News

See also...

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