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419. Nae Pasaran!; movie review

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Title : 419. Nae Pasaran!; movie review
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Cert 12A
96 mins
BBFC advice: Contains brief images of dead bodies, references to torture

In 1980, I began a European Studies degree course at Wolverhampton Polytechnic and one of the mature students was a chap called Raul Ulloa.
Raul was a quiet fella who didn't take part in student revelry but caught the train home every night to his family home in Coventry.
Indeed, he didn't speak that much English, having recently come into the country from Chile. Occasionally, I caught the same train on a Friday because Coventry was my home city and we exchanged short pleasantries.
However, I was very young, he was in his 30s and I didn't perceive we had that much in common.
Nearly 40 years later, the circumstances of Raul's flight to the UK dawned on me while watching Felipe Bustos Sierra's Nae Pasaran!
A section of the movie briefly touches upon the British government taking in political refugees from Chile on student programmes.
We and other western states wore saving the lives of those being tortured as a badge of honour. How times have changed!
Back in the early 1970s, the country's social conscience was in the hands of the trades unions.
They demanded fair pay, equal rights and believed wholeheartedly in solidarity - be it with workers in the UK or abroad.
And they had power - so when union officials at the Rolls-Royce plant in Scotland saw that they were being asked to repair engines destined for planes for the Chilean dictatorship's air force, they refused.
Sierra's film tells the story of the blacking of the engines on the grounds that the air force was used to unseat a democratically elected government.
There are interviews with the determined Scots who stood in the way of the repairs and with Chilean dissidents who, decades later, gave thanks for their action.
It is an emotional narrative which weaves in the grim 70s history of Chile in which tens of thousands were murdered or tortured and a reminder of the lost power of trades unions in the UK.
But it is also a very emotional account of how a handful of men at a Rolls-Royce plant in East Kilbride made a difference.
Today they are old fellas but they are still as passionate about standing up for what is right as they were 40 years ago.
Their story is told with such a powerful effect that I was on the cusp of tears.
I now know that reverberations of the action meant that my college classmate Raul came to Britain with his family and studied in Wolverhampton.
I don't know what happened to him after we finished our course in 1984 but whatever he did was made possible by Scottish workers saying no - and I bet even he didn't realise that.

Reasons to watch: A real butterfly flaps its wings story
Reasons to avoid: If you are not interested in 1970s world affairs

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 8.5/10

Director statement - Felipe Bustos Sierra: "We have so much context, so much history. I describe the film as so much broccoli, which you know is good for you and it’s nutritious but it’s not necessarily the kind of stuff you want  but it needs to be there before you get to the ice cream at the end.”

The big question - How many lives were saved by the action of the Scottish workers?

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