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Film Essay on State of Fear

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Wendy Laborde

Mrs. Jazmín Puicón

History of Modern Latin America

December 5, 2016

Film Essay on State of Fear

        “State of Fear” is film that showcases the violence that has affected Peru during their civil war, because of this many people were forced to deal with the abuse from the military and government. Even though this film was centered on the violence Peru, there were center people that was affected by this, and that is the women. In the article Temma Kaplan’s “Reversing the Shame and Gendering the Memory,” in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, they discuss the torture and abuse women faced, especially one women Nieves Ayress that was tortured for 3 years. Throughout this essay a strategy that will be used is comparing the film with the article because there are many things that are similar but small details can make them different.

        Even though the killings have stopped after the war, people are still able to feel the affects of what happened. In the film they discuss how the truth commission discovered what exactly went on during the war, because people were able to testify. They said, “The people who testified at the Commission were overwhelmingly poor, rural peasants, Indians, but they were also city people, middle class people, as well police, officers, and troops. The Truth Commission discovered the terrible fact that nearly 70,000 Peruvians died in the political violence.” (State of Fear) This is a lot of people that was discovered to have died without many people knowing, which is very shocking to many people, but what was even more shocking is the fact that it wasn’t just a certain group of people that testified it was everyone from different classes, places, and races. The fact that it took them after the war to discover this, is not surprising because many people just try to forget about the bad things, because it can cause them a lot of pain which is understandable. However, one truth that was similar to both the film and article is torture, torture is used as a form of oppression to harm others and get them to follow whatever request they want. Torture is not something that can be overlooked because there are still people struggling  to overcome the nightmares they faced for years. In the film they discussed about one family and how their uncle and grandmother were killed, because they were tortured by the military. In the film the family member says, “They tortured my uncle in front of everyone. They dragged people from their houses and in front of everyone they strangled him and cut off his tongue.” (State of Fear) They did this to the uncle so that he could be an example to others, they didn’t want the people to try and resist them so they needed a scapegoat. The people physically could not fight back because the military was too strong. It's sad that the people had no choice but to follow along and could not fight back because they were scared, what were they going to do when they were helpless and could not fight back and that is what torture does to a group of people it makes them feel helpless.

This experience is similar to the article by Temma Kaplan’s “Reversing the Shame and Gendering the Memory,” in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, throughout the article we learn about the torture that people faced specifically women, but we also learn about one woman named, Nieves Ayress. Ayress, is a brave woman who was able to share her story just like the family in the film. In the article it says, “She was gang-raped and mutilated as her father and brother stood by helplessly. Then they were all tortured simultaneously, and their tormentors threatened to make her father and brother rape her. She was beaten, and electric prods were placed all over her body. Rodents were introduced through tubes into her vagina. She was hung from various limbs in various positions and was forced to eat excrement.” (Signs pg 6) This situation is similar to the film because this amount of torture is used so that she can be dehumanized and forced to do whatever they want, and that's what they both have in common they were used to show an example to everyone that the military is stronger and that they can control everyone and there’s nothing that anyone can do. If you notice if both acts of torture they had people watching, they used such similar methods because it helps to provide fear in the eyes of the people. This works because everyone becomes sacred and unable to fight back. Neither families could protect each other because they were made to see that they are weaker.

Another similar experience between the film and the article is their ability to resist, even though they were tortured and were scared, they somehow found a way to fight back. In the film they discussed how the leader of the town fought to get the community to stick together and not fear the military, even though he was killed this is still a form of resistance. They said, “One of the elders back then, Alejandro Ore, was a kind of leader, he was smart, a good talker. He organized us to live close so we could protect each other.” (State of Fear) The reason why this is used is because people like the military don’t like it when the people come together, because they will find hope. People like them don’t like when they see hope because they feel like they are getting weaker and weaker. Because they are used to having control they fear when their resistance gets smaller, so they had to get rid of what was causing this. Killing their leader was a way to get them back in power and in control, but once they got together it is already too late. The people also resisted the military by living, staying alive is a way to resist because fighting to stay alive and not allowing themselves to die is resistance. And this succeed because today we are able to learn about their story and experience, if this people died then who would be a witness to all the hardships they faced.

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