When the Mountains Tremble (1982) introduced indigenous rights leader Rigoberta Menchú as the storyteller in her role to expose repression during Guatemala’s brutal armed conflict. Winner of the Special Jury Award at Sundance, the film was seen worldwide and translated into 10 languages. It helped put Menchú on the world stage and 10 years later she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
This new, remastered version of the 1983 classic on war and social revolution in Guatemala is a vigorous and persuasive documentary. It describes the struggle of the largely Mayan peasantry against a legacy of state and foreign oppression. Centered on the experiences of Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú, a Maya K’iche indigenous leader, the film knits a variety of forms— interviews, direct address, re-enactment, video transmission, and on the spot footage shot at great hazard— into a wide-ranging and remarkable cohesive epic canvas of the Guatemalan struggle.
Despite the long history of oppression it depicts, the overall effect of the film is exhilarating; with clarity and energy it conveys the birth of a movement for social justice.