The Count (Jaime Vadell) in a black-and-white picture. He wears a uniform and stands in an office filled with books.

El Conde

Pablo Larraín considers Augusto Pinochet’s legacy in the dark comedy co-written with Guillermo Calderón.

14 September 20233 min read

Augusto Pinochet, the notorious Chilean dictator who seized power of his country in a coup d’état and ruled with an iron fist through the 70s and 80s, left behind a legacy of human rights violations, embezzlement, and corruption when he died in 2006. In director Pablo Larraín’s film El Conde, however, Pinochet is not dead, but rather a 250-year-old vampire. 

Joining the literary characteristics of the gothic vampire protagonist with historical fiction, the beautifully shot black-and-white film embraces satire in questioning what is eternal in the legacy of a figure like Pinochet. “Using black comedy, we want to observe, understand and analyze the events that have occurred in Chile and the world in the last 50 years,” says Larraín. 

Larraín, the acclaimed director of intimate biographical films like Jackie, Spencer, and Neruda, explores the turbulent history of his home country with dark humor in El Conde. The film finds Pinochet (Jaime Vadell) when he is finally ready to die, plagued with dishonor and familial friction. Vadell previously worked with the director on his Oscar-nominated 2012 film No, which depicted a pivotal ad campaign that led to Pinochet’s resignation.

Larraín co-wrote the screenplay with frequent collaborator Guillermo Calderón (Neruda), and the film is produced by Fabula, the production company founded by Larraín and his brother, Juan de Dios Larraín. In El Conde, Larraín and his filmmaking team have the opportunity to further examine a figure who has often had a presence, both on- and offscreen,
in the director’s work.

All interviews included in this piece were completed prior to May 2, 2023.