'El Conde' warns of the monstrosity of unchecked power

“The whole film is about the seduction of fascism, done as a satirical comedy,” says “El Conde” cinematographer Edward Lachman, who alongside director Pablo Larraín spins an alluring horror story about Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet as a bloodthirsty vampire living out his final days. Pinochet’s unchecked power lasted for 17 years beginning in 1973 and influenced every corner of the country, including the church. Depicting the religious perspective in the narrative is Carmencita (Paula Luchsinger), a nun sent to perform an exorcism who instead is seduced by Pinochet and wants to become a vampire herself. With a single bite she drops her rosary beads and flies outside. Photographing the sequence was done practically over green screen for its realism. A rigging crew specializing in aerial work was brought in to hang Luchsinger from wires attached to a large crane. Camera crews then filmed her performance as she glided through the sky like a bird finding its wings. “Working off what’s there, the light, the wind, her movement in that space, all those things contributed to a visceral experience,” says Lachman. The moment of power doesn’t last long for the character — a fitting warning for those who try to seize it for their own gain.

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