The Settlers

Spanish, English Subtitles

How many innocent people must die for a nation to be born? In The Settlers a trio of gunslingers are sent into the gorgeous mountainous expanses of Chile’s southernmost region with one mission - conquer the land for Chile, and kill everyone in their way. We view the story through the eyes of Segundo, a mixed race indigenous man, who travels through Patagonia on horseback alongside a deranged British soldier and a cowboy from Texas. The story may start off as a classic Western adventure, but very quickly the atrocities of colonization become unavoidable, as the European obsession with conquering and “owning” the land leaves nothing but blood and destruction behind.

 

The first feature by Chilean director Felipe Gálvez Haberle is simultaneously a cutting takedown of the colonial cowboy fantasies propagated by Hollywood, as well as being one of the best Western movies in years. With stunning photography of Patagonia’s natural locations, a gorgeous musical score, and an expansive scope that rivals great Hollywood westerns like The Searchers or Stagecoach. The Settlers initially premiered to rave reviews at the Cannes Film Festival, and has since played at TIFF, Telluride, and the New York Film Festival. It is Chile’s official submission to the Oscars this year.

Indigenous people around the world have suffered greatly at the hands of European colonizers. The Settlers tells the tragic story of Chile’s campaign to clear the land of indigenous people and the ultimatum that was given to the survivors of this genocide; either assimilate or die. Throughout our continents, from the southernmost tip of Patagonia, all the way to the northernmost point in Nunavut, colonizers have not just attempted to claim the land, but to erase the indigenous inhabitants entirely. The Settlers directly forces us to confront the uncomfortable and tragic truths of how every nation in the Americas was founded. This is not an easy film to watch, but it isn’t meant to be. It is our duty to interrogate the history we have been taught, and films like The Settlers are necessary viewing.