Salvador Allende. You may never have heard this name. You may not know of the man or his politics. You may not have seen the famous image of him moments before his death, with military helmet on, waiting for the end. You might not know dictator Augusto Pinochet. After watching Missing, you might want to develop your knowledge of the history of Salvador Allende and the coup that saw the CIA collude with the Chilean military. Costa-Gavras is clever to never mention the country at its heart but it helps add grounding to what you have seen.
What do you see? American Charles Horman (John Shea) (Based on the real life person of the same name) is arrested by military police after a coup in the south American country he is living in. When his wife Beth (Sissy Spacek) tries to locate him, it proves impossible and he is declared missing. His father Ed (Jack Lemmon) travels from the US to meet his daughter in law and maybe resolve with the embassy staff a way to find his son. They say that everything is being done. When nothing turns up and Ed starts looking instead, the truth is far more complex then first believed.
Costa-Gavras shot to attention with the political masterpiece Z. A film that wholly transformed the commercial, political film. Some 13 years later he made Missing (having made three others in between). I have nothing but praise for Z and for Missing. Missing won the Palm D’or at Cannes, it was a financial success and it is an important film. It has a stunning central performance from Lemmon (he has measure and persona that keeps you drawn in and compassionate.) It is directed with an eye for document and not sensationalism. It has a script that never pulls a punch, nor twists an emotional tear muscle. Most of all, it is so truthful in narrating events that you feel you aren’t intruding on pain but are instead fighting to find a resolution. Like Ed and Beth, you are trying to find the man who has done nothing wrong. Nothing except be politically different.
Those extras, you want to know about them! Well the transfer is lovely enough. No excess correction, light loss or dulling of external scenes. It is remarkable how Powerhouse get it always right but Criterion sometimes get it so wrong. Now I am not going to mention the booklet but I recommend reading Crowdus interview. Start there. Their are five astounding extras on the disc. The fifth great extra is Costa-Gavras interview. It covers much of his career but Malcolm seems to tease extras out of him. The parts about issue with distributions in the US is interesting, Costa-Gavras bats it away. Also how you work with actors in ‘real films’. Insightful comments returned by him. At Four is Costa-Gavras Cannes interview. Put simply it opens us to how and why he is motivated to make ‘true’ films and how he perceived film and reality. Its short and sweet. At Three Keith Gordon evaluates the commercial heart of American cinema with political edge. He might skirt around stating that Americans warmed to a film that showed an American family fighting the powers to find their son, being popular because he is American and they are basically foreign but its implied. It also done with more tact then me. At Two Jack Lemmon wonderful Guardian interview. Packed insight, funny memories and takes on reaction and perception. Little on Missing but a lot of depth and honesty. Take his comments on self analysis. He seems to understand the lack of clarity many have with this. At One. Well I commend all who worked on this. An interview with Joyce Horman. Real life wife of Charles. Don’t be fooled, its as powerful as the film. voiced from the heart and stomach.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES:
- High Definition remaster
- Original mono audio
- Audio commentary with actor John Shea and critic Jim Hemphill
- The Guardian Interview with Jack Lemmon and Jonathan Miller (1986): archival audio recording of an interview conducted at London’s National Film Theatre
- Keith Gordon on ‘Missing’ (2018): a new filmed appreciation by the filmmaker and actor
- Archival interviews with director Costa-Gavras
- Original theatrical trailer
- Image gallery: promotional photography and publicity material
- New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
- Limited edition exclusive booklet with a new essay by Michael Pattison, an overview of contemporary critical responses and historic articles on the film.
- UK premiere on Blu-ray
- Limited Edition of 3,000 copies