3.5 Stars
Year Released: 2005
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 83 minutes
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Alberto Fujimori was born in Peru as a son of poor Japanese immigrants, but found a surprising level of popularity and became the most powerful man in his country. When all was said and done, the loved and hated right-winger won three terms as president despite brutal tactics that forced him to resign in the early months of his final term in 2000. In her thorough and fascinating historical documentary “The Fall of Fujimori,” Ellen Perry creates an objective yet not overly dry character study of the man, now a fugitive living in Japan, as he recalls his days in power.

Perry isn’t interesting in judging Fujimori, and makes the most of his only extensive interview since his resignation, after which he fled to Japan where he became a wanted international criminal. Perry introduces the facts, which may be considered defendable to some while unforgivable to others, of his “self-coup” in 1992, when he allied with the military and took unilateral control to curtail the rampant terrorism that had plagued Peru. Different people weigh his success and failure in various levels. Some think that it was the only way to beat the terrorists, others think that police detectives located the terrorists without the help of the government’s brutality. One success that can’t be denied is his handling of a hostage situation in which he refused terrorists demands while managing to save all but one of around 80 hostages. However, his reaction to the terrorism was almost glee, as if the threat kept him in power. The detached objectivity sometimes hurts the film’s thematic structure, but usually reflects honest history that speaks for itself. The people accepted Fujimori’s actions and reelected him (against an incredibly odd challenge from his now-ex wife) in a landslide after he reinstated democracy, but lost his reputation after a scandal involving Vladimiro Montesinos, Fujimori’s right-hand man in the war against terror who tortured and murdered people and bribed members of congress, quite likely with Fujimori’s knowledge.

Editor Kim Roberts precisely combines a slew of incredible archival footage with interviews from people offering various perspectives in favor of and against Fujimori’s methods. A home video shot by his son reveals that he at least knew he had to cover things up, while today he claims that he knew nothing and only wanted to help Peru. Sometimes Perry puts Fujimori in front of archival images from his presidency, showing his face and the event at the same time. Here is a soft spoken man, hero and villain, who changed a country and now can’t enter it, but still waits for the day he returns to power.

Posted on January 22, 2005 in Reviews by

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