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La Hora de los Hornos

LA HORA DE LOS HORNOS



(The Hour of the Furnaces)


Argentina, 1968


Director: Fernando E. Solanas

Production: Grupo Cine Liberación; black and white, 16 and 35mm; running time: 260 minutes, French version: 200 minutes; the film is composed of 3 parts: "Neocolonialismo y violencia" - 90 minutes, "Acto para la liberación" - 120 minutes, and "Violencia y liberación" - 45 minutes. Released 1968. Filmed in Argentina.


Producer: Fernando E. Solanas; screenplay: Fernando E. Solanas and Octavio Getino; photography: Juan Carlos de Sanzo with Fernando E. Solanas; editor: Fernando E. Solanas; sound: Octavio Getino; music: Fernando E. Solanas.


Publications


Books:

Solanas, Fernando E., and Octavio Getino, Cine, culturay descolonización, Mexico City, 1973.

Pick, Zuzana, editor, Latin American Filmmakers and the Third Cinema, Ottawa, 1978.

Solanas, Fernando E., La mirada: reflexiones sobre cine y cultura, with Horacio González, Buenos Aires, 1989.

Monteagudo, Luciano, Fernando Solanas, Buenos Aires, 1993.


Articles:

Marcorelles, Louis, "Solanas: Film as a Political Essay," in Evergreen (New York), July 1969.

"Cinema as a Gun: An Interview with Fernando Solanas," in

Cineaste (New York), Fall 1969.

Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), October 1969.

"Fernando Solanas: An Interview," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Fall 1970.

MacBean, James Roy, in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Fall 1970.

Matthews, John, "And After?: A Response to Solanas and Getino," in Afterimage (London), Summer 1971.

Haycock, Joel, "Notes on Solanas and Godard," in Film Society Review (New York), November and December 1971.

Getino, Octavio, and Fernando Solanas, "Towards a Third Cinema," in Cineaste (New York), Winter 1971.

"Algunas preguntas a Octavio Getino," in Cine Cubano (Havana), no. 73–75, 1972.

Solanas, Fernando, and Octavio Getino, "Voor een derde cinema," in Skrien (Amsterdam), Spring 1972.

Wilson, David, "Aspects of Latin American Political Cinema," in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1972.

Films and Filming (London), November 1972.

MacBean, James Roy, "Fernando Solanas: An Interview," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Winter 1972.

Sibon-Blanc, A., in Image et Son (Paris), no. 269, 1973.

Carestia Greenwood, Concetta, "The New South American Cinema: From Neo-Realism to Expressive Realism," in Latin American Library Review, Spring 1973.

Hennebelle, G., "Le Réalisme magique et les élans du coeur," in Ecran (Paris), 15 March 1979.

Ranvaud, Don, "Fernando Solanas: An Interview," in Framework (Norwich), Spring 1979.

Solanas, Fernando, and others, "The Cinema: Art Form or Political Weapon," in Framework (Norwich), Autumn 1979.

Stam, Robert, "Hour of the Furnaces and the Two Avant-Gardes," in Millenium (New York), Fall-Winter 1980–81.

Medina, R., "La Hora de los hornos: Imagen de un pueblo vivo," in Cine Cubano (Havana), 1981.

Danvers, Louis, in Visions (Brussels), February 1986.

"Interview with Solanas," in Cineaste (New York), volume 16, nos. 1–2, 1987–88.

"Solanas Issue" of Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), January-February 1989.

Pick, Z. M., "The Dialectical Wanderings of Exile," in Screen (Oxford), no. 4, 1989.

Thompson, F., "Metaphors of Space: Polarizations, Dualism and Third World Cinema," in Screen (Oxford), no. 1, 1993.

Menna, C., and V. Cervetto, "Cine militante clandestino en Argentina," in Film-Historia (Barcelona), vol. 6, no. 2, 1996.

Chanan, Michael, "The Changing Geography of Third Cinema," in Screen (Oxford), vol. 38, no. 4, Winter 1997.


* * *

The liberation struggles of the 1960s were a fertile seedbed for La hora de los hornos. Independence movements in the colonies and neo-colonies of the Third World, student revolts in the United States and Western Europe, and the brief protest by Czechoslovakians against the dull grey bureaucracy of the Soviet Union were the world context in which Fernando E. Solanas and Octavio Getino's film exploded. Argentina moved closer to a social revolution than it ever had before (or since), and Hora was an important expression of that movement, as well as a pivotal example for cineastes involved in national liberation movements throughout the world.

The film is a documentary of such length (4" hours) that most viewers outside of Argentina have probably seen only the first part. Perhaps influenced by the work of the Cuban documentarist, Santiago Alvarez, the directors have created a film that takes the form of a didactic collage, committed to the denunciation of imperialism and its cultural influences. As is stated in the film: "Mass communications are more effective for neo-colonialism than napalm. What is real, true, and rational is to be found on the margin of the Law, just as are the people."

That which is most interesting about the film's form is its relation to the audience. Rather than the conventional finished cinematic product, ready for viewer consumption, the work is conceived as an open-ended militant act, in which the film itself is only important as a "detonator" or "pretext for dialogue." Parts 2 and 3 were structured with pauses in which the projector was to be turned off and discussion was to take place; groups using the film were encouraged to employ their own visual or sound accompaniment and to cut or add to the film as they saw fit. Of course, the very context in which the film was shown contributed to the sense of audience participation. Because the film was illegal, no one in the audience was a mere spectator: "On the contrary, from the moment he decided to attend the showing, from the moment he lined himself up on this side by taking risks and contributing his living experience to the meeting, he became an actor, a more important protagonist than those who appeared in the films. The situation turned everyone into accomplices of the act."

Argentina's climate of political repression also required a novel approach to production. Conceiving of their work as a guerrilla act, Solanas and Getino "provided a model for clandestine activity under an aggressively hostile regime which no filmmakers in Latin America or elsewhere have surpassed," noted the American critic Julianne Burton. Strict discipline and tight security were the rule, and all who participated in the film's production were required to develop interchangeable skills. One example of the measures required by the situation was that the film's footage had to be constantly disassembled and reassembled so that technicians in the processing laboratories would have no hint as to its subversive content.

The film's strident manichaeism ("our culture and their culture, our films and their films, our sense of beauty and their sense of beauty") and its puerile historical analysis seem dated today. But, the current situation in Latin America leaves little room for doubt that more such films are both needed and forthcoming. As Solanas and Getino stated in Hora, "At this time in Latin America there is room for neither passivity nor innocence. The intellectual's commitment is measured in terms of risks as well as words and ideas; what he does to further the cause of liberation is what counts." What Solanas and Getino did for the cause of liberation was make La hora de los hornos, which, as they reminded us in their first public statement about the film "is an act before it is a film—an act of liberation."

—John Mraz

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