State of Siege (1973)

PG | 119-120 mins | Drama | April 1973

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HISTORY

The film's French release title was this co-production was Etat de siége . Although an onscreen copyright statement lists a 1973 date for copyright holder Cinema 5, Ltd., the film was not registered for copyright at the time of its release. It was, however, registered to Cinema 5, Ltd. on 7 Apr 1980, under number PA70197. The following written statement appears before the beginning of the film: “The events in this film actually took place in a South American country.” All credits, including the title, appear at the end of the film. The closing credits include the following written acknowldgment: "Grateful acknowledgement [sic] for services rendered by Lan Chile and Fiat Chile." State of Siege was filmed in Chile and France, according to reviews. In the print viewed, the voices of the majority of the actors were dubbed into English. Filmfacts states that the film was released in a French-language version with English subtitles as well as an English-dubbed version.
       According to a Jun 1972 Var article, State of Siege , then in production in Santiago, Chile, was under attack from both right-and left-wing establishments for its story matter. The film reconstructs the events surrounding the abduction and eventual murder of American AID advisor Daniel A. Mitrione (1920—1970).
       As depicted in the film, Mitrione was abducted, held and interrogated for ten days by the Tupamaros, the National Liberation Movement, a left-wing revolutionary group. When the Tupamaros demand for the release of 150 political prisoners was refused by the government, Mitrione was killed. His murder received heavy and sympathetic publicity in the United States, ... More Less

The film's French release title was this co-production was Etat de siége . Although an onscreen copyright statement lists a 1973 date for copyright holder Cinema 5, Ltd., the film was not registered for copyright at the time of its release. It was, however, registered to Cinema 5, Ltd. on 7 Apr 1980, under number PA70197. The following written statement appears before the beginning of the film: “The events in this film actually took place in a South American country.” All credits, including the title, appear at the end of the film. The closing credits include the following written acknowldgment: "Grateful acknowledgement [sic] for services rendered by Lan Chile and Fiat Chile." State of Siege was filmed in Chile and France, according to reviews. In the print viewed, the voices of the majority of the actors were dubbed into English. Filmfacts states that the film was released in a French-language version with English subtitles as well as an English-dubbed version.
       According to a Jun 1972 Var article, State of Siege , then in production in Santiago, Chile, was under attack from both right-and left-wing establishments for its story matter. The film reconstructs the events surrounding the abduction and eventual murder of American AID advisor Daniel A. Mitrione (1920—1970).
       As depicted in the film, Mitrione was abducted, held and interrogated for ten days by the Tupamaros, the National Liberation Movement, a left-wing revolutionary group. When the Tupamaros demand for the release of 150 political prisoners was refused by the government, Mitrione was killed. His murder received heavy and sympathetic publicity in the United States, but later information, provided by CIA operatives, revealed that the AID in Latin America had been used as a front for covert CIA activities.
       In a Jun 1987 interview with NYT , Tupamaros leader Raul Sendic stated that Mitrione’s killing had been inadvertent, due to the arrest of the group’s leaders, as shown in the film. Unable to communicate with the leaders, the remaining members of the group went ahead with the threat to kill Mitrione. In the article, Sendic confirmed that Mitrione, a former police chief in the U.S., had been selected because of his involvement in riot control training of the Uruguayan police. Sendic did not mention that Mitrione had been involved in instructing torture techniques, but other sources continue to link Mitrione and the AID as an extension of the CIA.
       The Jun 1972 Var article reported that after co-writer Franco Solinas, who had written the acclaimed script for the 1966 semi-documentary Battle of Algiers , provided a copy of the script to Communist party officials, they disapproved, and the production was strongly criticized in the Chilean Communist press. A 3 Apr 1973 DV news item stated that State of Siege , which was to have its premiere on 5 Apr as the opening film of the American Film Institute’s inaugural series at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., had been canceled by then AFI director George Stevens, Jr. because, according to the LAT it "rationalized assassination."
       The DV item stated that director Constantine Costa-Gavras, who deemed the cancellation of State of Siege “censorship,” was outraged and was in contact with colleagues in the U. S. The result, according to a 10 Apr 1972 DV article, was the withdrawal of thirteen of twenty-two pictures slated for the AFI series by producers in sympathy with Costa-Gavras. A HR 4 Apr 1973 article stated that AFI board chairman Charlton Heston offered to screen State of Siege not at the premiere series, but at a later date in a special series of the five most politically controversial films of the century including The Birth of a Nation (1915, see above) and Ten Days That Shook the World . The article revealed that Donald Rugoff, head of distribution company Cinema 5, Ltd. rejected Heston’s offer. With no film to show on its opening night, the AFI theater did not open until 6 Apr 1973, the same day that State of Siege opened elsewhere.
       Modern sources add the following actors to the cast: Eduardo Naveda, Rafael Benavente, Sara Astica, Jaime Azócar, Schlomit Baytelman, Jorge Boudon, Guillermo Bruce, Lucho Córdova, Armando Fenoglio, Tennyson Ferrada, Fernando Gallardo, Cristián Garcia-Huidobro, Rebeca Gigliotto, Rubén Darío Guevara, Patricia Guzmán, Juan Guzmán Tapia, Enrique Heine, Agustín Moya, Gloria Münchmeyer, Héctor Noguera, Sergio Noguera, Alicia Quiroga and Jael Unger.
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
23 Apr 1973
p. 4584.
Daily Variety
16 Feb 1973.
---
Daily Variety
9 Mar 1973.
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Daily Variety
3 Apr 1973.
---
Daily Variety
10 Apr 1973.
---
Filmfacts
1973
pp. 143-46.
Films and Filming
Aug 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Apr 1973
p. 1, 23.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 1973
p. 1, 29.
Los Angeles Times
13 Apr 1973.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Apr 1973
Calendar, p. 18.
Motion Picture Herald
21 Apr 1973
p. 9.
New York Times
14 Apr 1973
p. 39.
New York Times
22 Apr 1973
Section II, p. 1.
New York Times
24 Jun 1973
p. 15.
New York Times
21 Jun 1987.
---
Newsweek
23 Apr 1973.
---
Variety
21 Jun 1972.
---
Variety
14 Feb 1973
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A film by Costa-Gavras
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Orig scr, Orig scr
Orig scr, Orig scr
English version
Willow Workshop, Inc.
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
SOUND
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Etat de siège
Release Date:
April 1973
Premiere Information:
Paris opening: 8 February 1973
U.S. premiere in Washington, D.C.: 6 April 1973
New York opening: 13 April 1973
Production Date:
began June 1972 in Chile
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duart
Duration(in mins):
119-120
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
France, Germany (West), Italy, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1970, in Montevideo, Uruguay a massive citywide search conducted by the police and the military for kidnap victim, Philip Michael Santore, an American citizen and member of the Agency for International Development, locates his dead body in the back seat of a Cadillac. After an autopsy, the government announces a day of mourning and a state-paid funeral for Santore. During the service, which is attended by numerous government officials, Mrs. Santore and various others recall the events that began one week earlier: One morning, several members of a political revolutionary group, Tupamaros, skillfully intercepts Santore's chauffeur driven car on its way to his office. Meanwhile, other members of the same group also abduct the consul of Brazil, Fernando Campos and the secretary of the United States embassy, Anthony Lee. When the guerrillas who have abducted Lee grow nervous over the constant police street patrol, they release Lee, bound and wrapped in a blanket but unharmed. At a press conference with a Uruguayan government minister, the press demands to know why Santore, who has no known rank or official authority, was kidnapped with two other foreign government officials. The minister explains that Santore handles communications and traffic control with the American AID, which works in several Latin American countries contributing to agricultural and technological projects. After the minister acknowledges that part of Santore’s work includes assisting the police, several journalists interview police captain Lopez who calls Santore a communications expert and reveals that Santore had previous AID assignments in Brazil and Santa Domingo. As these inquiries proceed, the rebels transport Santore to a hideout beneath a public ... +


In 1970, in Montevideo, Uruguay a massive citywide search conducted by the police and the military for kidnap victim, Philip Michael Santore, an American citizen and member of the Agency for International Development, locates his dead body in the back seat of a Cadillac. After an autopsy, the government announces a day of mourning and a state-paid funeral for Santore. During the service, which is attended by numerous government officials, Mrs. Santore and various others recall the events that began one week earlier: One morning, several members of a political revolutionary group, Tupamaros, skillfully intercepts Santore's chauffeur driven car on its way to his office. Meanwhile, other members of the same group also abduct the consul of Brazil, Fernando Campos and the secretary of the United States embassy, Anthony Lee. When the guerrillas who have abducted Lee grow nervous over the constant police street patrol, they release Lee, bound and wrapped in a blanket but unharmed. At a press conference with a Uruguayan government minister, the press demands to know why Santore, who has no known rank or official authority, was kidnapped with two other foreign government officials. The minister explains that Santore handles communications and traffic control with the American AID, which works in several Latin American countries contributing to agricultural and technological projects. After the minister acknowledges that part of Santore’s work includes assisting the police, several journalists interview police captain Lopez who calls Santore a communications expert and reveals that Santore had previous AID assignments in Brazil and Santa Domingo. As these inquiries proceed, the rebels transport Santore to a hideout beneath a public garage. Wounded in the lower shoulder during his abduction, Santore is surprised to receive thorough and conscientious medical treatment by his abductors. Later, a masked rebel, Hugo, interrogates Santore, who admits to remaining at his AID post in Brazil during a right-wing military coup that ousted the left-leaning president. When Santore describes himself as a technician and a policeman who provides order, Hugo asks if police techniques include electrocution that was applied to many Brazilians, including children. Santore suggests these stories are Communist propaganda, but Hugo wonders how the numerous torture courses offered to the Brazil police escaped his notice. Exhibiting a New York Times article reporting that America trained police in Brazil, Hugo then shows Santore a photograph of him dining with several Brazilian police officials. Later, after a physician with the Tupamaros inspects Santore’s wound, the group disguises Santore and takes him to a local hospital where an x-ray confirms that his lung is not affected. Over the next few days, the Tupamaros make public radio communiqués announcing Campos and Santore's health conditions and that each are undergoing interrogation. In his sessions with Santore, Hugo provides proof of the advisor’s involvement in training the Santa Domingo police during their civil war, which was partially financed and aided by the CIA. Hugo then discloses the rebels’ detailed information on Santore’s arrival in Uruguay and his close affiliation with the police, including locating his office in the police building on the same floor as Capt. Lopez. Meanwhile, the Uruguayan Parliament vigorously debates what the revelation of Santore’s activities reveals about America’s influence over their government. Back in the hideout, Hugo accuses Santore of recruiting for an American-sponsored Police Academy, which the advisor admits, claiming that while governments may change, the need for police remains constant. The men clash over their interpretation of law and order, with Hugo insisting that many of his countrymen join the police out of economic necessity, which is frequently caused by America’s financial power resulting in exploitation and poverty. The rebels then release a communiqué demanding the release of all political prisoners in exchange for Campos and Santore. Although the Minister of Internal Security tells reporters that releasing prisoners would circumvent due process, the Minister of Foreign Affairs insists the president and the government have taken no position on the rebels’ demand. As the government intensifies its search for the hostages, the university where students are peacefully demonstrating in support of the rebel cause is overrun by police security. When the police search leads to the garage outside of the hideout, Santore and Campos are blindfolded and bound in preparation to be moved, but the police depart before discovering the hideout. In another session of Parliament, a female senator states that there is proof of the habitual use of torture by the police, frequently on innocent victims. Demanding to know why the government continues to deny and ignore these facts, the senator challenges her colleagues to take action. Resuming his interrogation, Hugo asks Santore about the police recruits sent to a special training camp in Texas specializing in torture techniques. Santore explains that if their enemies are going to use force, the police must respond in kind. In reply, Hugo offers several examples of recent police activity to suggest that Santore and his group use torture and violence to control the population. When Hugo accuses Santore of fascism, the advisor angrily calls the rebels subversive Communists who would destroy law, order and Christian ethics. The following day the rebel communiqué states that interrogations have determined that Santore is an undercover agent instructing the Uruguayan police in torture and assassination. While the president of the country rehearses and records a filmed statement defending the institution of law, the press observes that most of the ministers arriving at Parliament are industrialists or bankers with deep connections to American industry. After the daily newspapers announce their belief that the president will resign to avoid making a decision in the crisis, the Tupamaros kidnap another AID member. Shortly thereafter, the heavy military dragnet succeeds in capturing most of the rebel leaders, including Hugo. Santore, Campos and new hostage Snow are quickly relocated and a communiqué warns of reprisals for the arrests and sets a twenty-four hour deadline for the prisoners’ release. Hugo’s replacement offers Santore the opportunity to write a letter to his family and explains that just as it appeared the government would allow the prisoners’ release, rebels were arrested, and consequently although they would have preferred to spare Santore's life, they will probably have to execute him. After several hours of a news blackout and Parliamentary deliberation, the government states it is in agreement with the Minister of Internal Security and cannot take action regarding the political prisoners. The remaining Tupamaros conduct a vote and agree to execute Santore. In the present as Santore’s flag-draped casket is taken to the airport, his replacement arrives and is greeted by AID officials under the watchful eyes of the rebels. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.