Precarious Images: Media and Historicity in Pablo Larraín’s No

  • James Cisneros
Part of the Global Cinema book series (GLOBALCINE)


Set against the historical backdrop of the Chilean Referendum of 1988, Pablo Larraín’s No (2012) presents a fictional account of the television campaign that sought to depose General Pinochet. Larraín structures the film around archive images taken from the “Yes” and “No” campaigns, which make up roughly a third of the film, and fictional sequences shot with the same audiovisual technology from the eighties: U-Matic video and Tube cameras. With this singular formal composition, No invites us to consider how the historicity of its footage—new images shot with old technology, archive images recuperated by digital means—interacts with the ongoing history of the moment it represents. While the film seems to comment on the continuity between the dictatorial past and the democratic regime that replaced it, echoing a position held by sociologists and cultural critics, Larraín’s wish to seamlessly integrate documentary and fiction, effectively erasing the temporal difference of the archive images, also seems to contribute to a sense of historical stasis. We explore these questions through contextual readings of how artists and activists conceived of media technologies, and especially video and photography, in the Eighties, and of how Larraín evaluates digital and analog audiovisual formats, as well as through analyses of the film’s narrative, casting, and audiovisual aesthetics.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Cisneros
    • 1
  1. 1.Université de MontréalMontreal, QCCanada

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