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No [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres français)

Gael García Bernal , Alfredo Castro , Pablo Larraín    Blu-ray
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Based on a true story, when Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet, facing international pressure, calls for a referendum on his presidency in 1988, opposition leaders persuade a brash young advertising executive, Rene Saavedra, to spearhead their campaign. With scant resources and constant scrutiny by the despot’s watchmen, Saavedra and his team devise an audacious plan to win the election and free their country from oppression.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Film of the Pinochet Plebiscite. Aug. 24 2013
General Pinochet came to power by a coup d'état in 1973 when he overthrew the democratically elected government of President Allende's `Unidad' Popular party. Pinochet was made President and de facto dictator heading a notorious junta that suppressed all opposition through fear, intimidation and murder, or `disappearances as they liked to call it. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher thought he walked on water after `supporting' her war to retake the Falkland Islands from Argentina. But enough of the potted history lesson and back to the film. The plot comes together in 1988 when after years of pressure El Presidente decided to hold a plebiscite on the future of dictatorship.

The question to be put to the people was simple, they were asked to vote yes or no; yes for more of the same and no for a democratic future. Everyone believed that it was a stitch up or that the junta was so far removed from reality having bought their own lies and propaganda that they could not lose so each side was given fifteen minutes a night to state their case, and then the fun began. This film from Pablo Larraín (`Tony Manero' and `Post Mortem') continues his excellent career in making off the wall films that mix Chile's history with superb story telling and inspirational cinema. This stars the brilliant Gael Garcia Bernal as Renee Savadrea who is an advertising executive. He gets asked to head up the `no' campaign, but is more used to advertising fizzy drink commercials and initially says no to `no'.

The no campaign is a loose confederation of a rainbow alliance featuring all the unwelcomed politicos of Latin America, commies, etc.
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Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Enjoyed the whole election story and the flashbacks, but did find the subtitles often difficult to read and too rapidly gone.
We showed it (with distributor's permission and fee) to a large audience, and those comments were often reported.
The subtitles for the Metropolitan Opera HD series are much more easily legible.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  58 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Revolution without a drop of blood: `Chile: happiness is coming!' June 27 2013
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
The close examination of the 1988 referendum campaign called for by Chile's military dictator Augusto Pinochet provides not only a fascinating peak inside politics, but it also is a true story of how the Chilean people successfully staged a bloodless revolution to free themselves from the power of a dictator. Based on fact as depicted in a play written by Antonio Skármeta, molded into a screenplay by Pedro Peirano,and directed with a keen sense of period by Pablo Larraín, the film uses substantial bits of archival film footage that enhances the impact of this moment in history.

NO is the story of the advertising campaign surrounding the 1988 referendum that was supposed to `elect' General Pinochet to another eight years of dictatorship in Chile. The referendum campaign will last 27 days leading up to the October 5, 1988 vote, with each side getting fifteen minutes of uninterrupted television air time each day for their campaign. The "no" coalition decides to hire René Saavedra (Gael García Bernal), a young, brash, in demand advertising executive to spearhead their campaign, which causes problems if only because his boss, Lucho Guzmán (Alfredo Castro), is an advisor to Pinochet. Saavedra's troubled home life - his ex-wife Verónica Carvajal (Antonia Zegers) believes the referendum is simply Pinochet propaganda and shares custody of their son Simon (Pascal Montero) - interferes with René's focus, but he eventually devises a plan to spearhead the NO campaign by putting a positive, consumerist spin on it with plenty of humor to be had. Instead of reminding the Chileans of the horrors of Pinochet's reign he instead infuses the campaign to unseat Pinochet with symbols of rainbows, hope and the happiness that the people can enjoy if they vote to end the dictatorship. In the end, despite the attempted disruption of the campaign by the YES campaign that want to re-seat Pinochet for another 8 years, the people's revolution slogan of `Chile: happiness is coming!' is a bloodless lesson for the world that revolution can come form the hearts of the people instead of being the result of bloody battles.

Gael García Bernal shines in his understated portrayal of René Saavedra , a fact that makes his intelligent media focused mind more appreciated. If at times he seems physically uncommitted to the campaign at hand that only reinforces how he used his mind instead of brawn to accomplish is assignment. There are moments of tenderness, frightening scenes of the cruelties form the Pinochet dictatorship brutal rise to power, and all of this is blended with filmed archives and in the moment film that result in an intelligent and empathetic film. Grady Harp, June 13
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jarring and Stirring March 22 2013
By Jiang Xueqin - Published on Amazon.com
"No" in its first minute is a jarring visual experience. It's grainy and shaky, as though it were a youtube video blown onto the screen, and it's only well into the movie when we realize that the visuals are meant to evoke the visuals of late 1980s Chilean television so that actual television footage from that era could match seamlessly with the rest of the film. Once we overcome this psychological hurdle we come to appreciate "No" as a moving and stirring tale.

It's 1988, and Pinochet's military dictatorship of Chile has endured for fifteen years. Facing growing international pressure (namely, US pressure), the dictator decides to hold a referendum whether to extend his rule by another 8 years. It seems to the majority of those most opposed to him (40 percent of Chileans live below the poverty line, and there are tens of thousands of political dissidents either killed, exiled, or disappeared) that the referendum is just a sham, and they are determined to ignore it. But one adman (played by the always wonderful Garcia Bernal) is determined to get the apathetic (the young) and the scared (middle-class women in their sixties) to vote, and to finally topple Pinochet from power.

There are two dimensions to the film, both equally powerful and effective. The first dimension is how a political/media strategy is formed and executed with limited resources. Knowing that Pinochet's first weapon of choice is to instill fear in Chileans, the adman wisely decides to instill hope, excitement, and optimism with a colorful, funny, and irreverent media campaign. He carefully calibrates that to stir people into action you should not remind them of the terrible times and sacrifices made in the past (people would rather forget these things), but remind them of the good times ahead if Chile were to become an open and free democracy.

The second dimension is the adman's personal struggles that reveal the deep tensions within Chilean society, and here the director has used a lot of creative license. The adman is married to a political dissident who lives with an artist when she is not in jail, and she constantly reminds him how by seeking to struggle he is helping to legitimize the fraud that is the referendum. His boss in the ad agency is close to the dictatorship, and he becomes the dictatorship's main media strategist, and thus the adman's antagonist. And he has a son whom he is trying to protect from Chile's political turmoil while fighting to create for him a better future.

The premise of the film -- that a media campaign that lasted for 15 minutes on television for 27 dyas -- toppled Chile's military dictatorship is shaky at best, pure fantasy at worst. Nevertheless, "No" is a very stirring film that will be celebrated by Chileans for a long time as its "Birth of a Nation."
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Democracy as a saleable commodity Aug. 17 2013
By Roland E. Zwick - Published on Amazon.com

In 1988, fifteen years into his reign as President of Chile, General Augusto Pinochet agreed to allow the people of his nation to hold a national referendum, leaving it up to them to determine whether or not they wanted him to remain as their leader for another eight years. On the surface, this might have seemed like a turn toward democracy for a man who came to power as a result of a military coup and who ruled his nation with an iron fist - sending many dissidents to prison and to their deaths - but many who were opposed to him eyed the elections with a great deal of skepticism and distrust, believing that the vote would be rigged and that his preordained victory would only further strengthen his grip on power and, simultaneously, enhance his image in the eyes of the world.

But hold the election the nation did, and it is against this backdrop that the movie "No" is set. Gael Garcia Bernal stars as Rene Saavedra, a divorced advertising executive who lives a profitable and comfortable life with his young son, Simon. Hitherto, he has remained largely apolitical in a country where to voice an opinion on the government or its leaders can put one's own life and freedom in jeopardy (his ex is herself a leftist activist who often finds herself abused and imprisoned for her actions). But when the plebiscite is announced, Rene, somewhat hesitantly at first, agrees to work for the No Campaign, bringing his expertise on advertising for the first time into the realm of politics.

While most of the people involved in the campaign want to take this opportunity to expose the horrors of the regime through a hard-hitting series of 15-minute ads, Rene argues instead for a more upbeat, feel-good approach on the theory that people are more likely to respond positively to something that makes them feel happy than something that makes them feel outraged or depressed. The result is a series of TV spots so impossibly bland and innocuous - filled with deliriously happy performers dancing and singing a jingle - that they might as well be selling toothpaste. And I guess that's one of the points of "No" - that in a consumer-conscious society even freedom and democracy eventually become commodities like everything else and can be sold as such.

Written by Pedro Peirano and directed by Pablo Larrain, "No" is of more interest as a historical and social document than as a drama, since its characters remain largely superficial throughout. And while the narrative earns points for resisting the temptation to over-dramatize an already highly volatile situation, the perhaps inevitable price of that restraint is a picture that actually feels UNDER-dramatized at times. However, the bravery of these individuals in the face of some obvious attempts at intimidation does shine through. In order to more seamlessly blend the action of the story with actual archival footage from the era in which it`s set, the movie has been given a deliberately grainy, over-lit appearance by cinematographer Sergio Armstrong that helps to heighten its authenticity.

Not quite as emotionally powerful as one might wish it to be, "No" is, nevertheless, a true-life tale of a national uprising well worth paying heed to.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Political thriller of a different kind April 16 2013
By Paul Allaer - Published on Amazon.com
Last Fall, we were treated to the triumph that was "Argo", a historical political thriller the likes of which we hadn't seen much since the 1970s. About the same time, another historical political thriller from Chile was released in certain foreign markets, after making a splash at the 2012 Cannes film festival. The movie is now finally being released into US theatres, with a DVD release on the horizon as well.

"No" (2012 release from Chile; 115 min.) brings the true story of how the military regime of Pinochet, under pressure from the international community after 15 years of dictatorship, called a referedum in 1988 on whether General Pinochet should stay on for another 6 years. A "yes" vote meant another 6 years, and a "no" vote meant the end of the Pinochet regime. As the movie opens, we are introduced to René Saavedra (played by Gael Garcia Bernal), an advertizing wizzard (we see him presenting a new, US-style, commercial for the "Free" brand of cola). Saavedra is approached by the NO campaign to bring some new ideas to the table. We get to see the actual commercials that were being considered or used by both the YES and NO campaigns, and they are dreadful on both sides. When Saavedra makes his pitch to the NO side (namely, "we need to sell a product that people will want to buy"), the initial reaction of the NO campaign is very negative, even hostile. At that point we are just about half-way into the movie and to tell you more would ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Several comments: first and foremost, writer-director-coproducer Pablo Larraín does an outstanding job in bringing us a good feel for the build-up of the NO campaign (at some point someone exclaims "We need more content! We'll never be able to fill 15 minutes of TV airtime every day!"), and how it all leads up to the frantic last days of the campaign. Second, the movie is shot as if to bring you the late 1980s for real: the movie is shown in a 4:3 ratio (rather than the usual 16:9 widescreen ratio), and is shot as if this is a home movie, with heavily grained images and light contrasts. Third, I read somewhere that the movie was made on a shoe-string budget, proving once again that you don't need a hunder million dollars to make an exciting and engaging movie. The art-house theatre I just saw this at here in Cincinnati was absolutely packed, which is great news indeed. If you are in the mood for a top-notch quality foreign movie, you cannot go wrong with this. "No" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Missing something Aug. 14 2013
By William Cormier - Published on Amazon.com
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The film is way too focused on the main character, who does not exemplify any heroic virtues and yet he is the protagonist who wins at the end, giving the plot some confusion. The film portrays the other aspects of the story very well: the activists, the oppressors, the challenge, but not enough to give the audience a real sense of understanding. Perhaps if it had focused less on the main individual.
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