Contribute Now
America Reframed: Purgatorio | Topics | WMHT
  • Click to contribute to WMHT
  • Click to make/update a sustaining contribution to WMHT
  • Click to join the WMHT e-news mailing list

America Reframed: Purgatorio

Posted by WMHT Web Editor on


Watch Tuesday, January 6, 2015 at 8pm on WORLD.

Leaving politics aside, Rodrigo Reyes looks anew at the brutal beauty of the U.S./Mexico border and the people caught in its spell. The evocative Dantesque essay film reimagines the border as a mythical place exploring the vulnerability of the human soul, the violence man creates and the destruction left in its wake. 

The film opens with Reyes’ own words: “Close your eyes. Try to imagine what the world was like, many, many years ago. Try to imagine when borders did not exist.” His invitation is for us to think about a world where time, wonder and mystery converge seamlessly. He continues, “And then we arrived.” Later, as the camera sweeps across an endless expanse of desert, Reyes adds, “We tore it apart into a thousand pieces. And in the madness that followed, we discovered violence, hate, and finally, separation.”

In the auteur tradition of caméra-stylo, Purgatorio captures a stunning mosaic of compelling characters, empty edifices and stark landscapes along the border to deliver a haunting meditation and visceral experience. Exposing both the flaws of human nature and the incongruities of the modern world, the filmmaker reflects on questions that are impossible to answer. Reyes’ epic film transforms a treacherous reality into a fable of humanity.

Independent Lens Blog

Filmmaker James Solomon Peels Back the Mythology of the Kitty Genovese Story

The Witness (which premieres on PBSs Independent Lens Monday, January 23, 2017; check local listings) may be James...

History of 911: America’s Emergency Service, Before and After Kitty Genovese

On a cold winter night, March 16, 1964, at around 2:40 in the morning, 28-year-old Kitty Genovese was attacked with...

NPR People & Places