Politics of film music in Chile (1939-1973)
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date04/07/2020
Farías Zúñiga, Martín Esteban
In this thesis, I explore film music in Chilean cinema in terms of meaning and interpretation and in light of the political circumstances that have marked the country during the twentieth century. The temporal framework considers film production from 1939 to 1973 which represents the beginning of the sound era during the 1930s that produced significant changes for domestic film production and the Civic-Military coup d’état on 11 September 1973 that meant a wrenching crisis at several levels in the country. I examine a wide range of films, including features, documentary, shorts, industrial and commissioned films, emphasising the power of certain political attachments to music and how it works in film. The thesis is divided into three parts each comprising several chapters which incorporate the analysis of specific films. Part 1 focuses on the period from 1939 to 1956 analysing the use of musical techniques borrowed from Hollywood and the prominence of musical numbers in the films. Both features became identity markers that contributed to shaping the national cinema discourses of the period. Part two focuses on two areas that were key for the development of innovative aesthetics in Chilean cinema from the 1950s: the foundation of the Centre for Experimental Cinema (CCE) attached to the University of Chile, and the growth of industrial and commissioned film production companies. Both led to a particularly prominent role for music in films. Part 3 focuses on what is known as the New Chilean Cinema, from the late 1960s to 1973, and explores different approaches to political filmmaking. Through the use of pre-existent popular music and incorporating innovative approaches regarding voice and sound effect, films addressed politics in different registers. Overall in this thesis, I challenge existing historiography to enable a fuller understanding of Chilean film, exploring connections in relation to Hollywood, European and Latin American cinema. I argue that film music is inextricably associated with socio-political constraints in Chile and is understood most productively in correspondence with a series of milestones in Chilean history and in this way the thesis sheds light on new perspectives for the study of music and cinema in Chile and Latin America more broadly.