A TWELVE YEAR NIGHT : The Sounds of Silence

Hello darkness, my old friend… I’ve come to talk with you again…
Because a vision softly creeping… Left its seeds while I was sleeping…
And the vision that was planted in my brain.. Still remains..
Within the sound of silence

Words from Simon & Garfunkel‘s evergreen classic song brilliantly fits in as an ode to the heart wrenching Uruguayan film A twelve year night. No wonder it does get its deserving place in the film too. Director Alvaro Brenchner chooses to tell the story of  the unbelievably horrific experience that three political prisoners José Mujica, Mauricio Rosencof and Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro go through during their twelve year long solitary confinement across multiple prisons in the most inhuman conditions under the military dictatorship regime in Uruguay.


These are sharp young minds of Uruguay who are taken captive unlawfully and are told straight on the face that they are hostages, not prisoners, and hence the regime doesn’t have the basic obligation to even provide them the bare minimum living conditions of a registered prisoner. They can’t talk to anyone, to the prison staff, even to themselves. They are barred from getting a glimpse of the blue skies or the stars in the night for years. And they are not allowed to let anyone know of the hell that they are going through in captivity with minimal food or water, no basic sanitation, practically nothing. But how has such inhuman torture ever been able to kill the indomitable spirit of such enlightened souls? Such warriors learn to live and protect their integrity against every possible assault on their bodies, minds and souls. They even find out innovative ways to communicate with each other across prison walls, and even play games of chess in their minds, such is the power of their sharpness. And when they finally get their freedom after twelve long years of ordeal at the end of the dictatorship, they all go on to achieve what they were always meant to, José Mujica eventually becoming the President of Uruguay!

It is deeply moving human story of struggle and survival and is bound to move you with its inhumanly painful premise, and yet at the same time it becomes a telling tale of never ending hope and will to get back to life and freedom. The three leads are played by Antonio de la Torre, Chino Darín and Alfonso Tort, and all of them are terrific. With a natural ease, they bring out the layers of insurmountable courage and imagination to overcome all brutalities of an environment that is constantly robbing them of their dignity and mental equity. Their performances are accentuated by a brilliant screenplay, terrific cinematography and production design, and in spite of the grueling journey of brutality that one goes through, Brenchner’s film triumphs in keeping you involved for every minute, making you feel suffocated in those dark prison cells, and getting you to breathe hope, happiness and freedom as they get to eventually watch the skies and the stars after years! Chances are that these incidents of faraway Uruguay will bring in images of what the freedom fighters of your own country would have gone through to get you all the free air to breathe. Yes, the experience is precious.

A Twelve year Night is playing on Netflix and is a must watch.


Copyright ©2019 Jayashree Chakravarti. This article cannot be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL can be used instead.

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