The Official Story or La historia Oficial is a 1985 film from Argentina directed by Luis Puenzo and starring the amazing Norma Aleandro, Héctor Alterio, Chunchuna Villafañe, Chela Ruiz, and Hugo Arana. This film is in the pantheon reserved for the most important and daring works of cinema; movies that deal with real and raw personal and political turmoil.
The film follows an upper class couple in Buenos Aires and their adopted daughter Gaby. Although Gaby was adopted at birth, her adoptive and loving mother Alicia, portrayed by Norma Aleandro, has grave concerns about Gaby’s origins. These concerns are stoked by the return of her friend Ana, a dissident who fled the country in self-imposed exile after being tortured by government agents years ago. As Alicia questions and investigates, all while maintaining her job as a high school history teacher, her life of idyllic happiness and bliss begins to unravel one thread at a time. She begins to become familiar with the movement to find out what happened to the disappeared ones, people kidnapped by the government as dissidents or subversives and never seen again by their loved ones. In Argentina they are called the desaparecido; they were thousands of nameless victims that were part of a vast network of human rights abuse in Argentina at the time. Some of the disappeared ones gave birth while they were in custody, their children were taken away and handed to government loyalists assuming they ask no questions. Alicia begins to wonder if this is her situation. She then is introduced to a network of grandmothers holding protests and mobilizing with the simple hope of seeing their grown children or young grandchildren again.
When her life falls apart, Alicia is left with no permanent answers only the terrifying knowledge that her husband was complicit in this dictatorship. She is constantly asked by him if the truth is work her untangling her happiness. If giving Gaby away years later will change anything. The film is haunting and tense with political intrigue and innuendo. It won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 58th Academy Awards along with a host of other awards.
Throughout her search you see changes in Alicia, she no longer forces her history students to accept only the official version of historic events such as Argentina’s Revolutionary War against Spain. When she quizzes one of her students on why he does not believe the official line of events he says in an iconic line because history is written by assassins and criminals. There is further change in her, as there was in all of Argentina, when she does not side with her husband against his elderly father during a political debate. The father contends that being poor but remaining true to one’s principles is more favourable than bowing down to a dictatorship in return for financial success. Her husband contends that bowing isn't necessary only looking away would suffice. This movie tells of a political change, a period of oppression, and a movement Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo or Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo who camped in the center of Buenos Aires just for a sight or word of their stolen families. But it tells all of this using family not grandiose political figures or characters. Family and tearing back layers of lies that unveil an unsettling dictatorship. The film leaves you wondering the importance of truth in society and a dictatorship’s need for silence and complicity.