Imagining Argentina is a 2003 Spanish-British-American drama historical film written and directed by Christopher Hampton and starring Antonio Banderas, Emma Thompson, Leticia Dolera and Rubén Blades. It is based on the award-winning homonymous novel by Lawrence Thornton. It was nominated for the Golden Lion at the 2003 Venice Film Festival.
The film, centered on a couple living through the ominous last military dictatorship in Argentina (1976-1983), depicts graphic images of suffering, such as rape and torture. The closing caption states that around 30.000 Argentines disappeared during the beginning and end of the regime.
During the last civil-military dictatorship in Argentina, the military government is abducting those opposed to its rule. Cecilia, a dissident journalist living in Buenos Aires, is kidnapped by the secret police to join the ranks of the disappeared. Cecilia had earlier published a provocative article in her outrage over the forced disappearance of students protesting the bus fares.
As her husband Carlos, a theatre director, begins to search frantically for her, he realizes that he has acquired psychic power that enables him to predict the future. This not only puts him in high demand by those who have also lost a loved one, it helps Carlos to foresee what happens to his wife and other detainees. At one point, Carlos visits the Naval Mechanics School, the notorious torture centre.
Peter Bradshaw for The Guardian wrote: `well, what can I say about something destined to be a cult classic of awfulness? Imagining Argentina is an excruciatingly misjudged attempt to impose a layer of occult spirituality on an important political subject... The spectacle of Banderas exercising his sensitive magic powers, intercut with Thompson getting horribly raped and beaten - with close-ups on her droll, quizzical face contorted in agony - is truly wince-making`.
Directed by Christopher Hampton
Produced by Michael Peyser
Geoffrey C. Lands
Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
Based on Imagining Argentina
by Lawrence Thornton
Starring Antonio Banderas
Music by George Fenton
Cinematography Guillermo Navarro
Edited by George Akers
Green Moon Productions
Imagining Argentina Productions Ltd.
Tide Rock Entertainment
Distributed by Arenas Entertainment (USA)
Manga Films (Spain)
United International Pictures (UIP) (Argentina)
Release date(s) 12 September 2003
Running time 107 min.