With El Conde, writer-director Pablo Larraín continues his legacy of producing films that challenge traditional conventions. This time in a parallel and farcical world where dictator Augusto Pinochet is a vampire. The filmmaker had been toying with the idea of Pinochet as a figure that keeps appearing through history, our imagination and our nightmares.
El Condo is the tenth film directed by Pablo Larraín and the eighth made in Chile; this is another showcase of the unique approach the director has carried throughout his career. From extracts of Chilean history exploring power dynamics, such as No (2012), The Club (2015), and Neruda (2016), to groundbreaking gazes at the fates of women who have become worldwide icons, like Jackie (2016) and Spencer (2021),
Larraín has definitely left his mark on the film industry.
El Conde is a dark comedy/horror that imagines a parallel universe inspired by the recent history of
Chile.The film portrays Augusto Pinochet, a symbol of world fascism, as a vampire who lives hidden in a ruined mansion in the cold southern tip of the continent. Feeding his appetite for evil to sustain his existence. After two hundred and fifty years of life, Pinochet has decided to stop drinking blood and abandon the privilege of eternal life. He can no longer bear that the world remembers him as a thief. Despite the disappointing and opportunistic nature of his family, he finds new inspiration to continue
living a life of vital and counterrevolutionary passion through an unexpected relationship.
“I’ve have spent years imagining Pinochet as a vampire, as a being that never stops circulating through history, both in our imagination and nightmares. Vampires do not die, they do not disappear, nor do the crimes and thefts of a dictator who never faced true justice.
Together with my collaborators on the film, we wanted to show the brutal impunity that Pinochet represents. Showing him head on for the first time so the world can feel his true nature: see his face,
smell his scent. For that, we have used the language of satire and political farce, where the General suffers an existential crisis and must decide if it is worth continuing his life as a vampire, drinking the blood of his victims, and punishing the world with his eternal evil. An allegorical reminder of why history needs to repeat itself in order to remind us of how dangerous things can become”
“Sometimes ideas come from very specific things and other times they’re more abstract. I had seen some photos of Chilean generals wearing capes and then another photo of Pinochet wearing a cape,” says Pablo Larraín. “That’s when I started connecting the dots. And then I got into vampire literature, which is all about evil and eternity. This was during the pandemic, and I called Guillermo Calderón, who wrote the script with me, and we had a lot of free time. We ended up spending hours on the phone.”
“Then I called Jaime Vadell, our main actor, and we spoke many times and started discussing the possibility of making this movie. We thought it was interesting that Pinochet could be a vampire and end becoming young again in order to be present in Chile as a leading threat that never goes away – as if to say, this part of history is not over. This could happen again at any minute.”
“This is my 10th movie, and I did some television too. I have the luxury to work with very wonderful actors, and I’ve never made a movie where the actor pulls off every single take. But with Jaime, this man was just on it on every single take. My fear at first was, who’s going to play Pinochet, but Jaime just nailed it. Pinochet had a very specific way of talking – which was very annoying, by the way – but Jaime was determined not to do that. He came up with his own way of speaking that allowed him to really inhabit the character and that sense of power and violence. Fascism, as we know, starts with fear and then becomes violent.”
“It was important to shoot the film in black and white because it gives the perception of a different reality. I’m very interested in movies that were made in black and white after color techniques came about. We had all these bold ideas, like Pinochet existing for 250 years over different generations, so black and white was a way to unify our stylistic ideas and create a uniform texture. I’m very grateful we did it like that because I think that making this move in color would give a sense of escapism from the reality of the story. ‘
“This film shows the essence of impunity – and extends it to 250 years through a vampire – and reveals how dangerous impunity is. When you don’t have justice, that person and his legacy become a permanent problem. Whether this movie leads you to think about that, I don’t know. I don’t have the power to do that. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but in the 50 years since Pinochet came to power in 1973, I hope that this film and other forms of art can create some healing for the future. Maybe we don’t have that healing now, but the problem is that the friction we’re feeling now is because he never faced
Director, Producer, Screenwriter Pablo Larraín is a prominent Chilean film director, producer, and screenwriter, as well as a founding partner of Fabula, a company dedicated to film and television production, commercials, podcasts, and production services.
Larraín has become one of the most significant representatives of Chilean cinema, directing ten feature films and two television series, among other productions, and achieving success at international festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, and Cannes.
He was nominated for the Academy Awards in 2013 for “Best International Feature Film” with No, and for the Golden Globe Awards in 2015 for The Club and in 2016 for Neruda, both in the same category.
Larraín began his directing career in 2005 with the feature film Fuga, and since then, he has directed a wide range of acclaimed movies, exploring relevant themes with a focus on social criticism. The filmmaker gained international recognition with films like Tony Manero (2008), Post Mortem (2010), and No (2012), the latter winning the “Best Film” award at the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival 2012 and receiving an Oscar nomination for “Best International Feature Film.”
In 2015, his fifth feature film, The Club, premiered in the Official Competition of the Berlin Film Festival and won the Silver Bear for “Special Jury Prize.”
The same year, he successfully released the biographical film Neruda, starring Gael García Bernal and presented at the Cannes Film Festival, and in 2016,Jackie, starring Natalie Portman, at the Venice Film Festival. The film Ema, starring Mariana Di Girolamo, Gael García Bernal, and Santiago Cabrera, was part of the official selection at the 2019 Venice Film Festival, where it received the ARCA Award. Years later, Larraín directed Spencer (2021) at the Venice International Film Festival. The screenplay, written by Steven Knight, narrates a fictional account of the story of Diana, Princess of Wales, portrayed by actress Kristen Stewart, who received an Academy Award nomination for “Best Actress” for her performance.
In the television department, Pablo is a producer for series such as El Presidente, directed by Armando Bo and co-produced with Gaumont Distribution and Kapow; both seasons of La Jauría, directed by Lucía Puenzo and co-produced with Fremantle; Homemade for Netflix; Señorita 89, directed by Lucía Puenzo for Starzplay and PANTAYA; 42 Days in the Darkness, directed by Gaspar Antillo and Claudia
Huaiquimilla for Netflix; El Refugio, directed by Pablo Fendrik for Starzplay and PANTAYA, as well as Midnight Family, directed by Natalia Beristáin for Apple TV.
Guillermo Calderón is an actor, director, screenwriter, and playwright with an extensive career in the theater and literature world.
In 2022, he wrote the screenplay for the film Burning Patience directed by Rodrigo Sepúlveda, based on the novel of the same name by Antonio Skármeta, which is the first Chilean film produced by Netflix. Additionally, he premiered his directorial debut film, Making it Up (2022), a comedy produced by Fabula
about the trauma of the pandemic, illness, and economic instability, in Mexico.