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Hour of the Furnaces: Beyond Spectatorship


Hour of the Furnaces is one of those films you never forget watching, at least I never did. Coming in at about 4 hours, the documentary demands to be seen and heard. Shot clandestinely between 1966 and 1968 by Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, the film is a revolutionary call to action meant to awaken and inspire socio-political revolution. Despite the decades that exist between myself and this film, it felt more relevant than anything I have seen in years. The documentary speaks of the ever-present legacy of colonialism and neo-colonial policies which devastates the poor and elevates the rich, while illuminating the consumerist ideologies which pacify its citizens and render revolution unthinkable. Solanas and Getino do not think revolution should be dismissed, and this film makes that unmistakably clear. Using guerrilla film tactics, the films produces what Solanas and Getino call Third Cinema, an active subversion of Hollywood cinema. This forces active spectatorship and is meant to awaken the political consciousness of the passive Argentinian viewer, creating an uncomfortable viewing experience, as if to mirror the historical and emotional realities of the Argentinian revolution. It is an abrasive, shocking, and extremely informative documentary, one which left me with the unshakable need to write about it.

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