It’s 1948 and the Cold War has reached Chile. In congress, Senator Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco) accuses the government of betraying the Communist Party and is swiftly impeached by President González Videla (Alfredo Castro). Police Prefect Oscar Peluchonneau (Gael García Bernal) is assigned to arrest the poet. Neruda tries to flee the country with his wife, the painter Delia del Carril (Mercedes Morán), but they are forced into hiding.
Inspired by the dramatic events of his new life as a fugitive, Neruda writes his epic collection of poems, “Canto General”. Meanwhile, in Europe, the legend of the poet hounded by the policeman grows, and artists led by Pablo Picasso clamor for Neruda’s freedom. Neruda, however, sees this struggle with his nemesis Peluchonneau as an opportunity to reinvent himself. He plays with the inspector, leaving clues designed to make their game of cat-and-mouse more dangerous, more intimate. In this story of a persecuted poet and his implacable adversary, Neruda recognises his own heroic possibilities: a chance to become both a symbol for liberty and a literary legend.
This playful and inventive feature (in Spanish and French) from director Pablo Larraín (Jackie and Oscar-nominated NO) is the story of the escape, the investigation and the literary legend of a man once hailed as ‘the greatest poet of the 20th century’. The film plays out like a road movie, inviting us to soar alongside Neruda in his poetry, his memory, and his deeply held – sometimes paradoxical – political ideals.
Out on Blu-ray and DVD from Network Releasing from 10 July 2017
• BFI’s Maria Delgado interviews Pablo Larraín and Gael García Bernal
• Theatrical Trailer