One of the most symbolic participants in the returning exile days of 1983 was Fernando Solanas, the co-founder of Cine Liberacion and co-author of its manifesto for a “third cinema.” And, just to show how times had changed and how different films could be under democracy, Solanas, the militant of yesteryear, was coming back from exile to make a musical.
Called a tanguedia (tango plus tragedy plus comedy) by its maker, <i>Tangos</i> treats the subject of exile from the point of view of Argentines who, like Solanas, are camped out in Paris dreaming of home. Continuing his life-long project of honing a new language for Latin American cinema, Solanas haunts his own film with the figure of Carlos Gardel, the greatest hero of tango, the legendary singer who came to represent Argentina to Hollywood. Thus, Solanas manages to annex both a history of exile and a connection to popular culture for his own narrative. His troupes of Argentines live out their lives, full of financial woes, sexual discovery and artistic struggle, as they get bits of news from Buenos Aires, search for a backer, and raise a new generation that is intensely Argentine even as it knows less and less of the homeland. The tango becomes the symbol of Argentina’s soul, whether it’s the scratchy refrain of Gardel himself, or the defiant exile performance of tangos banned by the military, or the exuberant tangos composed for the film by Astor Piazzola.
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