The Fall of Fujimori

"Very Good"

The Fall of Fujimori Review


If you're feeling dismayed about the state of American politics, here's a thought to cheer you up: at least you don't live in Peru. That such a small county has suffered through such huge political upheavals in the past 20 years without simply falling apart is, as they would say in Lima, un milagro. The Fall of Fujimori is a documentary account of eight of those years and of the man who led Peru through them.

Flashback to 1990. Peru is under siege by Maoist Shining Path terrorists who rule the jungle and launch assaults on cities. Peru needs a man who will be "tough on terror," and the country chooses Alberto Fujimori, son of immigrant Japanese parents and a so-called man of the people. He brings with him Vladimiro Montesinos as his right-hand man, a move that will prove costly.

Fujimori goes after the Shining Path with brutal force, terror tactics of his own, and a disregard for human rights, and many Peruvians applaud. Things get even more rough in 1992, when, after being accused of corruption, Fujimori overthrows his own democratic government, disbands congress, and assumes absolute power to move even quicker against terrorists, or so he says. Again, Peruvians seem to go along with the plan.

And it works for a while. Eventually his wife leaves him and launches a presidential campaign against him even while they still live together. He's reelected, and in 2000 runs again and wins an unconstitutional third term. By then, however, the government is crumbling as secretly recorded video shows just about every member of Congress taking bribes, with Montesinos accused of everything from murder to gun-running. As things spin out of control, Fujimori tries every technique in the book to reassert his power before fleeing to Japan seeking political asylum, and Peru is left to pick up the pieces.

Director Ellen Perry has access to Fujimori, and he gives her his first interviews since his fall from grace. He couldn't seem more sensible and avuncular. It's hard to know what to think. A highlight of the film is the saga of the terrorist occupation of the Japanese Embassy in 1996-97, an ordeal involving dozens of hostages that went on for months until Fujimori hatched a plan for the army to blast their way in and save the innocent, which they did.

In fact, this documentary couldn't be more timely because it addresses all the important questions about how far a government should be allowed to go to protect its citizens from terror threats. Fujimori's answer: pretty far. Secret tribunals, hooded judges, lack of due process, death squads... they're all in his game book.

Today Peru is basically free from terror, but there has been much collateral damage, and the people seem a bit shell shocked. In fact, just this year they brought back into power the man who bankrupted the country in 1990, paving the way for Fujimori in the first place. Round and round it goes. Could Fujimori be President again some day? Who knows? In Peru it seems anything is possible.

Still standing, baby!



The Fall of Fujimori

Facts and Figures

Run time: 83 mins

In Theaters: Friday 5th May 2006

Distributed by: Stardust Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 11 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Ellen Perry

Producer: Ellen Perry

Starring: Alberto Fujimori as Himself (archive footage)

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