Chile's first feature, like other Third World films, was made specifically for its own people and intended as a critique of the social conditions in that country. Littin chose the true story of an illiterate peasant who had murdered a widow and her five children when drunk, to drama- tise his belief that the crime was as much the responsibility of the state as it was the individual's. The killing is reconstructed as a blind emotional reflex against the accumulated despair of a life of abject, uncomprehended poverty. Sentenced to death amid enormous publicity, the 'jackal' is taught to read and write, to make guitars, to be a 'useful' citizen. The society which is responsible for his original illiteracy and poverty gives him his first 'sense of life' with one hand and a firing-squad with the other. The film leaves you enraged not only at the futility of capital punishment, but also at the whole repressive system whose essential inhumanity is never more clearly indicated than in the final, furtive murder of their scapegoat, a shallow exorcism of their own guilt. JDuC.