El Chacal de Nahueltoro (English: The Jackal of Nahueltoro) is a 1970 Chilean film by Chilean director Miguel Littín. Much like Jorge Sanjinés, the Bolivian filmmaker whose The Blood of the Condor was the focus of the first entry in my YouTube Film Treasure Series, Littín is a political leftist who’s made a career of films about history that often focus on the plight of the poor.
The Jackal of Nahueltoro is based on a real life murder: a man kills a woman and her children. He’s apprehended, imprisoned and eventually sentenced to death and executed by firing squad. Before he dies, the government educates him (“improves” him) and gives him a shiny new pair of shoes. The irony, of course, is that nobody cared about the man before he committed murder. The government didn’t want to educate him. He didn’t have nice shoes. If he would have had these things, he might not have become a criminal. Giving these things to citizens chosen to die rather than those fated to live is also a waste of resources. That’s the message, but it’s Littín’s raw, visually expressive presentation that makes the film unforgettable.