The drama A Twelve-Year Night is about the civil-military dictatorship of Uruguay (1973-1985). This film shows how the left-wing urban guerrilla group, the Tupamaros, were violently defeated in the coup d’état of 1973 and nine of its members were held by the dictatorship as “hostages.” Three of the nine “hostages” are dramatized: Mauricio Rosencof, Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro and José Alberto “Pepe” Mujica Cordano.
Through flashbacks, we see how the Uruguayan government captured Rosencof, Huidobro (also known as El Ñato) and Mujica. As the viewer sees how many years and days go by for the three, the “hostages” were tortured and humiliated every day. Rosencof and Huidobro were able to contact each other at different times via Morse Code due to the government seeing Mujica as the most dangerous “hostage;” Mujica was placed in solitary confinement with no human contact.
As time passes, so does the imprisonment as the three move from location to location to hide the government’s illegal activities. There are some moments of humor and humanity: Rosencof helps a general to win a girl’s heart with romantic letters; Mujica receives a stern lecture from his mother about not giving up, and Huidobro receives visits from his six-year-old daughter and uses his memories to survive. There was also a humorous moment where Rosencof and Huidobro wonder who or what was Abba in 1976.
After 13 years, the dictatorship suffered its dreaded defeat: a referendum was made so that Uruguay can vote on whether to keep the dictatorship or restore democracy with a “yes” for the military and a “no” for democracy; Uruguay voted “no.” In 1985, democratic power was restored to Uruguay, and all political prisoners were liberated. In the end, we discover the fate of the three “hostages:”
Rosencof became a famous playwright, poet, and journalist. He became the Director of Culture of the Municipality of Montevideo since 2005 and currently lives in Montevideo.
Huidobro became a politician, journalist, and writer. In 2011 he became the Minister of Defense and stayed on until his death on August 5, 2016 at age 74.
Mujica became a politician. He was the Minister of Livestock, Agriculture, and Fisheries in 2005 after becoming a senator. He then became the 40th President of Uruguay in 2010 and became famous worldwide for being humble (he lived on his wife’s farm away from the presidential palace and declined staff and security; he conceded to have his three-legged dog Manuela as his only personal security). He also discourses advice to Latin American nations with so much wisdom that the world stops and listens to what he has to say.
A Twelve-Night Year is currently streaming on Netflix. It is a must-see movie about perseverance, tragedies and eventual triumph against inhuman situations. It also serves as a reminder that humanity has yet to grow up in a relative sense.